Week 11 | The Fifth Sunday After Epiphany
Almighty and Everlasting God: as your Only-begotten Son was presented and received in the temple, so may we welcome and proclaim him as the light of the nations and the glory of your people; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
Deuteronomy 33:8-11: They kept your word and maintained your covenant.
Psalm 68:19-20: God is our salvation!
Matthew 10:37-39: Anyone finding their life will lose it.
Luke 14:25-33: Count the Cost
This parable is intended for those who want to be disciples of Jesus.
Jesus had been performing some awe-inspiring miracles and had been saying some wonderfully enlightening things. His doing these miracles and saying these things had many people wondering if he was, in fact, the Messiah, the Chosen One who had come to set the nation of Israel free from Roman rule, and that had caused some of the religious leaders to be upset.
Because of all the excitement that Jesus had been generating, many people were flocking to be next to Jesus, and many chose to follow him as disciples. The crowds were huge! In some instances, the crowds were larger than five thousand people. Jesus knew that some people were following him just because of the excitement that He was generating. Jesus wanted to let people know after all the excitement wore off what they should expect and what they were getting themselves into. Jesus wanted people to follow him because of who he was and not what he did or said.
To prepare those would-be disciples, Jesus gives them two problematic statements.
The first statement was, “if anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife, and children, his brothers, and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:26).
That type of demand seems extremely tough and unlike Jesus and seems to have nothing to do with grace.
The second statement was, “anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
We all know now that Jesus was going to die on the cross; however, at that time, it was not evident to the crowds of people that we were listening. It may seem that Jesus is asking his followers to follow him even in death on the cross…but if we were going to die…then why would Jesus have to?
When Jesus said to them that his disciples would have to carry their cross, they knew that the cross was an instrument of death and that if someone thought that they wanted to follow Jesus, they would have to be prepared to suffer. Jesus probably knew that some of his disciples listening to that day would die on the cross, which is a very sobering fact.
Many scholars believe that Jesus told his followers that they would have to die for themselves and give up their rights and wants.
Regardless of what Jesus meant, it was more than likely that due to his rejection at the hands of the religious leaders, a follower of Christ would probably experience persecution of some type. Jesus wanted his followers to be prepared for what they were getting themselves into. To emphasize this, he told two stories to teach them to be ready for what was coming.
By telling these stories, Jesus wants to ensure that those that want to follow him have seriously considered the consequences of the commitment it takes to be a follower of Jesus.
The first story is that of a man building a tower.
Just because you want to build a tower doesn’t mean you can just get up one morning and start building a tower. Jesus says that if you’re going to build a tower, you need to consider the cost involved, the time it will take, and see if you have enough money to buy the supplies and pay for the work. Many building projects are delayed or, worse, stopped because someone did not plan properly and ran out of money or went over budget.
By telling this story, Jesus was pointing out to those who would be his disciples to consider the consequences of such a decision seriously. They needed to consider whether they committed to follow him or not.
The second story is about a king going to war. Once again, just because a king wants to win does not mean that he can. He must consider the number of troops he has compared to his enemy and if his troops are adequately trained. If the king did not believe he could defeat his enemy, he should look for peace instead of war.
All of this is to say that it is not enough to merely want to be Jesus’ disciple. Neither the coolness nor the attractiveness of being a disciple is the wrong motivation for becoming a disciple. You cannot be a true disciple until you know all that is involved and your commitment to Jesus. You must see if you are willing to submit to his will or not.
Sadly, many who want to go to heaven are not willing to come to Jesus on his terms and prefer to live life their way and not Jesus’.
Consider the cost of discipleship before you start the journey.
Come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout for joy and sing songs of thanksgiving to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us sing because the Lord is a great God.
He formed us; created, he holds the universe within his hands.
Come, let us worship, let us bow down, let us kneel before our Lord, our Maker, our God.