The Cost of Following Jesus

Luke 14:28-33
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
     Luke 14:28-33 serves as a pivotal passage for understanding the nature of Christian discipleship. It's here that Jesus invites us to count the cost of following Him, prompting an exploration into the depth of faith and the profound sacrifices it calls for. The passage begins with Jesus addressing a large crowd, sharing two parables that underscore the critical need for foresight and preparation. First, He describes a person intending to build a tower, who must first sit down and calculate the cost to ensure they can complete the project. In the second parable, Jesus narrates the story of a king going to war. The king must determine if he, with his 10,000 men, can face an opponent armed with 20,000. In both instances, Jesus highlights the dire consequences of embarking on an endeavor without fully understanding the commitment it necessitates.
     But why does Jesus use these parables in the context of discipleship? It's because the journey of faith is much like building a tower or preparing for battle. It's not a commitment to be taken lightly; it requires complete dedication, intense self-examination, and often, considerable sacrifice.
     Jesus makes this explicit, stating, "any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." This statement clarifies that discipleship isn't a path of convenience. It's a profound commitment that, at times, may necessitate relinquishing all we hold dear.
A powerful affirmation of this comes from the late missionary, Jim Elliot, who famously said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." Elliot, who lost his life while evangelizing the Huaorani people of Ecuador, lived these words. His understanding of discipleship was radical and uncompromising. For Elliot, to follow Jesus was to willingly risk everything in pursuit of eternal treasures.
     The writings of C.S. Lewis further illuminate this perspective. Lewis wrote, "If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next." This sentiment resonates with Jesus' teaching in Luke. Those who have left a lasting impact on Christianity are often those who've willingly surrendered their present for the sake of the eternal. They've counted the cost and deemed the price worthy of the unparalleled treasure that is knowing and following Christ.
     This passage in Luke calls us to an honest, self-reflective dialogue. Are we willing to pay the cost of discipleship? Are we ready to lay down our desires, plans, and possessions to follow Jesus wholeheartedly? These are challenging questions, prompting us to grapple with our understanding and expression of faith.
     The passage encourages us not to perceive this surrender as a loss but as an investment into a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Our faith journey isn't without challenges or costs. Yet, the eternal benefits far outweigh the sacrifices. Through His teachings, Jesus invites us to see beyond the temporal and to invest in the imperishable, through a life committed to Him. As followers of Christ, may we have the wisdom to count the cost, the courage to pay the price, and the faith to believe in the eternal treasure we receive in return.

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