The Christian needs Radical Meals
Luke 14:25-33 ESV
Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 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.
Today we conclude a short series of messages on the theme “Radical”. The idea came from some reflections on the book Radical, but this series is by no means a repetition of that book. We are using the word radical in this way: Jesus came to bring people to a fundamental and extreme change in our relationship with God and our way of life before God. Here is a list of the subjects we have looked at from Luke’s Gospel to this point:
True Christianity is based on the Radical Redeemer – everything depends on Christ and the gospel
Women can be radical followers of Christ
Christ calls all his followers to radical faith
Following Christ’s example, we should use meals in radical ways
To fulfill our mission, we need radical love
Men also can and ought to be radical followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When we look at our text for this morning, we see something unexpected. Usually when people are trying to build a movement, they seek ways to attract more and more people to their cause. What Jesus does here is totally contrary to that method. In fact, it can seem calculated to destroy the movement growing around him. Picture yourself being part of one of those large crowds. You have experienced something of Jesus’ power and authority. You’ve seen him perform miraculous signs and proclaim God’s message. You feel yourself drawn to follow him. Here is the One who knows God and people. Here is the One who is able to satisfy. It is all very exciting!
But then Jesus does something unexpected. He speaks words that must have seemed like letting loose a flood or whirlwind or volcano into the crowds that you are part of. We need to listen to the Lord like we were part of those crowds, and not like casual observers watching a movie in order to be entertained.
I.We must re-evaluate our commitments (14:25-26).
A.Our relationships with people form a major part of our lives.
1.How we interact in these personal relationships will determine much that happens. For example, if you are happily married, your life will be happy, other things being equal. But if you have marital strife, everything else in your life will be affected—usually adversely affected. So what you do in your relationships has great significance in your life.
2.Jesus talks to the crowds about the most important relationships in any person’s life: parents, spouse, children, siblings, and even one’s own self. The demands of those in our family weigh heavily on all we do or wish to attempt to do. For example, if you’ve ever thought about moving or making a career change, your family members will exert pressure on your decision. “You’re moving where? You shouldn’t do that!” Therefore, Jesus wants all would be followers of him to think through this issue.
B.Jesus uses forceful language to make us think about how very serious this issue is.
1.He uses Hebrew hyperbole to make his point. Every language has colorful expressions that add emphasis to what we say. From the time of the Patriarchs, Hebrew speaking people used the words love and hate in pairs to express contrast in relationships. Listen to Gen 29:30-33 ESV. So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years. When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.” She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon.Leah was loved less than Rachel, so Leah considers herself to be hated. By the way, Jesus is not counseling us to hate our family members, because he and his apostles clearly taught that we are to love others.
2.So then, Jesus Christ requires the foremost place in our affections. Since he is God, we must make this choice, in line with the First Great Commandment. Since he is the Sovereign Redeemer and has purchased us, we must love him first. We must choose him above all others. His counsel, as the counsel of the one we love most, outweighs the counsel of everyone else. This personal issue must be settled first, or the other significant people in your life will deflect you from following Christ. And yes, that includes the self-talk that you constantly give to yourself. Instead, you must learn from his words. Love for the Lord Jesus Christ must be the major influence in your life and your choices. If it isn’t, you will turn away from Christ at critical moments.
Apply: Does the Lord Jesus have first place above all others?
II.We must re-evaluate our cross (14:27).
A.We must understand the meaning of the cross in that culture. We have said this before, but it bears much repetition.
1.The cross was the instrument of violent, shameful death. It was crude, vulgar language to talk about the cross in polite society. People shuddered at the horrors of the cross. But as we are seeing, Jesus intends to shock us, so that we all understand his message. He is not sugar coating anything. Since I was recently at Tower Hill in London, I will phrase it this way. “All you people following me,” he says to the crowds. “You are not following me unless you are carrying your ‘ax and chopping block’ along with you.” Jesus was not looking for nice little gold crosses around their necks. He was looking for people carrying big, heavy, ugly, wooden crosses upon which each one must be prepared to die.
2.Have you ever watched the movie, “The Passion of the Christ”? Most people find the depiction of Jesus’ sufferings in it rather troubling to say the least, and many look away from the scenes, because they are so terrible to see, right? I’ve heard many people say that it showed them more of what Jesus did for them. Have you heard or said something like that? Now comes the tough part. If you carry your cross and follow Jesus, where is the logical place where you might finally be hanging? That’s right—on that cross you’re carrying. This is not the worldly way for building a people movement!
B.When you follow Jesus, be ready to die.
1.There are attitudes, words, and actions that you must put to death (Col 3:5-11). If you are trying to follow the Lord Jesus, you already know how hard and painful it is to rip such sins out of your life. If you think it is easy and painless, let’s talk right now about greed. You can want it out, but it is a noxious weed that too easily returns. In our garden, I am at war with the morning glory weed that chokes out the rest of the garden. Every time that I go out to weed, there are some more to pull out by the roots.
2.Some will have to suffer economically, losing their jobs, because of their faith in Jesus. Some will have to suffer physically, in prisons and torture chambers. Some will have to die. Our Chinese brothers and sisters understand this after more than sixty years of persecution. Yet they are sending out missionaries into the Middle East, saying, “We can do this, because we know what it means to suffer and to die for Christ.”
Apply: If you are hoping for worldly wealth and pleasure, don’t bother saying you are a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. All his followers carry crosses, upon which they are already dying. Jesus is not looking for spectators who demand entertainment. You cannot follow Jesus unless you believe that in eternity he will give you much more than you may lose in this life for his honor and glory. Do you think he is worth it? Do you think that he rewards those who trust him?
III.We must reevaluate the cost (14:28-33).
This is not talking about the cost of salvation, which is only by the precious blood of Christ (1 Pt 1:19). Salvation is always and only the gift of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Instead, it is talking about the cost of the consequences of trusting in Christ as your Lord and Savior in this world. The cost of these consequences can be very high in this world. Following Christ is not a game, but a matter of sorrow and joy, of life and death.
A.Jesus follows the first two clarifications about following him with two stories. Both lead to this third clarification and make the point about considering the cost from slightly different angles.
1.The first story is about a person who wants to build a large building. Before you start to build, you have to make sure you have enough money to pay for the completion of the tower. If you don’t, you will become the object of ridicule and contempt. Jesus wants people to consider the cost of learning who he is and then of the necessary imitation of his way of life (1 Jn 2:6).
2.The second story also talks about considering how many resources one has available to finish a task. This time it is about impending war. Can the king defeat the enemy who is coming against his country? If he doesn’t think he can, he will seek terms of peace before destruction comes. The point here is that you must choose. There is no third way. You either follow Jesus or reject him, but either way a choice must be made. You must count the cost of following him.
B. The Lord Jesus understands people. He knows how much we value our possessions. He knows that if our money and property hold our heart, then we will not be fully committed followers of him. We are fascinated and distracted by homes, cars, vacations, food, drink, furniture, gadgets, entertainment, and the money needed to acquire all these things. And every one of them eats up part of our time and attention. They control our lives, and we cannot be fully committed followers of Christ if they do. David Platt talks about this in his book Radical with many fine illustrations. I choose to conclude by asking us all, including myself, a few questions.
1.How much time are your possessions taking away from you serving the Lord and others?
2.How much time do you spend thinking about how to improve your lifestyle or to gain more wealth?
3.How willing are you to change your way of life in order to reach others with the good news of Jesus?
4.How will you open your life to other people in order to make disciples? Will you open your home to others?
5.Are you investing your life in God and other people or in yourself and all your things? Where is your real interest?
Pastor Dave Frampton
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teachers and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.