Words of Faith 10-1-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:  "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.  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
 "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?  For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him,  saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'
 "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.  In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
 "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.
"He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
What do building construction and war have in common? Both are costly. It is costly to contemplate war or to contemplate building construction. Jesus knew something about both.
Jesus grew up during a construction boom. Just a few miles from Nazareth, Herod Antipas built a new capitol city called Sepphoris. Scholars agree that it is quite likely that Jesus and His stepfather Joseph would have gone to this construction boom to find work. Jesus had observed a good bit about construction costs.
Jesus also observed the cost required to maintain a military occupation, since Jesus lived His entire earthly life in a land under the domination of Rome. Jesus knew what He was talking about when He spoke of weighing the cost.
In our text, Jesus addressed the crowds as if to say: It is easy to stay in a crowd. Crowds are safe. Crowds are anonymous. Crowds disperse quickly. It is easy to be in the crowds. But I am not calling you to be in a crowd. I am calling you to be a disciple and that is costly. If you are considering being a disciple you should count the cost. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is costly. Like the costs of war or the costs of construction, a disciple must weigh the economy of following Jesus.
Jesus and His stepfather may have even observed firsthand the foolishness of someone who begins a construction project without counting the cost, only to run out of resources and have to quit. The unfinished foundations remain as a tribute to shortsighted living. History is filled with the tragic stories of military leaders who failed to weigh the actual cost of a siege and came up short.
The same is true if we determine to follow Jesus. Many are in the crowd but only a few will finish. We need to carefully estimate the cost of being a disciple of Jesus. Jesus was very specific about the currencies in which discipleship is tendered, the arenas in which we pay the cost of discipleship.
One of those currencies is that of family. "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.
Jesus chose a way of making this statement that should not be misunderstood. In the ancient Middle East there was a figure of speech that stated a matter in such an extreme so as to make a point. Jesus used that figure of speech when stating that a disciple will hate his or her family.
It would be like saying "When I am serving you, I no longer exist" or "When I am in your army, I have no family at all.” It is a way of stating great devotion by framing that devotion in comparison to our greatest loves. We are to love God so much that by comparison our great emotions of love for family would seem as hate.
Jesus did not command the disciple to do the opposite of what all Scripture commands, to honor family. But Jesus did make it clear that discipleship requires a price that is paid in a currency that is very precious to us, family. Nothing could be more valuable. Being a disciple of Jesus is costly to our family.
We sometimes forget that in the romantic days of Galilee, to follow Jesus as a disciple meant that people left their families. We don't know that these families were unattended or not cared for, but James and John left their father Zebedee. Peter left his wife and mother-in-law in Capernaum. The disciples were not a bunch of unattached bachelors having a series of camping trips. There was a cost in the currency of family. There were sacrifices to be made.
Jesus starts here because this is the point of our greatest value. We can pay money. We can give time. But family is our greatest treasure. If you have family you know that. If you do not have any family you know it even more.
So what does Jesus mean by this? We are to give over our families to God. Those people we love the most, we are to turn over to the care and even the discipline of God. Those who are saved we rejoice in. Those who are not saved we give over to the care of God.
We are to love our families but be willing to sacrifice even in the care of our family if the Lord calls us to such sacrifice. I am not talking about preacher or ministry leader who neglects family while building kingdoms of his own design. I am talking about the genuine call of God to live sacrificially even when it comes to our families.
Being a disciple of Jesus will be costly to your family. There will be times that the Lord will call you away from your family. There will be things that the Lord will call you to do that cause sacrifices to be made by your family. From the view of the world, something as simple as tithing is costly to your family. It is, in fact, the very best thing for our families.
But obedience to the Lord, as HE directs you, may mean that you don't take the vacation trip that everyone else in your neighborhood is taking, or that you don't drive a new model car every year, or that you don't have the latest in designer fashions hanging in your closet, or that you don't live in the largest house you can afford to finance. Your children may not have the latest fads or attend the most prestigious schools or drive new automobiles on their 16th birthdays. Many will point out the enormous blessing that comes from such a simpler lifestyle but the truth is that these are the smallest of sacrifices.
As I was studying this passage I found myself drawn to the story of Corrie Ten Boom. Corrie is one my heroes. Her family found their discipleship tested during World War II when the Nazis came into Holland and began rounding up Jews for the concentration camps. It would have been easy to look the other way as many did. It would have been easy to cling to the safety of family. But instead, the Ten Boom family chose to risk everything in order to hide Jews in their home and smuggle them out of the country. Their home became the center of the Dutch underground.
Corrie told of an incident in which she asked a pastor who was visiting their home to help shield a mother and newborn infant.
The pastor replied, "No definitely not. We could lose our lives for that Jewish child."
Corrie goes on to say, "Unseen by either of us, Father had appeared in the doorway. 'Give the child to me, Corrie,' he said. Father held the baby close, his white beard brushing its cheek, looking into the little face with eyes as blue and innocent as the baby's. 'You say we could lose our lives for this child. I would consider that the greatest honor that could come to my family'" (The Hiding Place. Ten Boom, 1971, p. 99).
In the end, helping the Jewish people cost the Ten Boom family their home and security and their family. The Ten Booms were placed in the concentration camps. Corrie's father died ten days later. Corrie and her sister led worship services in the concentration camp. Corrie's older sister, Betsie, died there. Discipleship should not have to be so costly, but sometimes it is. Corrie, knew exactly what Jesus was talking about. Her father was a disciple of Jesus Christ. As much as he loved his family, by comparison to the love He had for Christ, it would be hate. His obedience was costly.
Father, only by Your grace can I follow Jesus. Give me the grace and strength to set Jesus and His call above everything. In Jesus' name.