Listen to Sermon Audio
Luke 9:18-27, 57-62; 10:25-28
Have you ever heard the story of the hen and the hog? They were walking down the street and came to a church with a sign outside: “HELP THE NEEDY.” They started to talk about it.
Hen: “I know how we could help. We could give them ham and eggs for breakfast.”
The hog was horrified and said, “That’s fine for you only giving a partial contribution, but for me, it’s total commitment.”
What’s the takeaway from that fable? Perhaps to consider whether we are offering ham or eggs to Christ.
In 1675, a German pastor named Philipp Spener wrote a work called Pious Desires. With uncommon vigor, Spener insisted that too many ‘so-called Christians’ had only the outward form of religion without the power. His call to holiness and intentional Christian growth was so inspiring it launched a movement called Pietism, which heavily influenced John Wesley and many others and eventually led to the First Great Awakening. Tell me if you think what he wrote in 1675 still applies today:
…there are not a few who think that all that Christianity requires of them (and that having done this, they have done quite enough in their service of God) is that they be baptized, hear the preaching of God’s Word, confess and receive absolution, and observe the Lord’s Supper, no matter how their hearts are disposed at the time, or whether or not there are fruits which follow. 1
Sounds like what Wilbur Rees wrote 300 years later in his book, $3.00 Worth of God:
I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please.” 2
Luke 9:51 invites you and me to consider whether we desire $3.00 worth of God, or if we desire more.
There are two reasons why Bible scholars point to Luke 9:51 (As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem) as the hinge on which the book turns.
First, the material up to Luke 9:51 is answering the question, “Who is Jesus?” The question is answered by Peter in 9:20 where he declares, “You are the Messiah, sent from God.” And from that point on, Jesus is defining the nature of His Messiahship: He will not accept the role of Messiah as a warrior king who will lead the Jewish people in revolt against the Roman occupying force.
No . . . “The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things,” He said. “He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day, he will be raised from the dead” (Luke 9:20).
Thus when Luke says Jesus “resolutely set out for Jerusalem,” He wasn’t referencing so much a geographical journey as a thematic journey that will culminate in the cross and the resurrection.
The other reason, and the more germane to today’s message, Luke 9:51 serves to divide the book has to do with what it means to be a follower of this Jesus.
Prior to that crucial verse, the disciples are delighting in the opportunity to hang out with Jesus. Who wouldn’t; He’s casting out demons right and left, He’s healing people of all manner of sickness and disease, He has even raised two people from the dead, He has fed well over 5,000 people by miraculously multiplying five loaves and two fish into a feast! He’s the peoples’ champion! And the disciples are hitching their wagon to His star! Jesus is a rock star! And the disciples are His groupies! It’s exciting and wonderful and hip and chic to be a follower of Jesus.
And then comes the jolting reality of Luke 9:51. Until Luke 9:51, the disciples don’t have any skin in the game. They haven’t even bought $3.00 worth of God yet.
But from that time on, they are going to discover that it takes ham rather than eggs to follow this One they call the Messiah.
As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head” (Luke 9:57-58). In other words, one cannot let the daily worries of this life overcome the demands of being a disciple.
He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:59-60). In other words, discipleship has an urgency to it that should have first place.
Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say goodbye to my family.” But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:61-62). In other words, God does not issue His call for a season, but for a lifetime.
What one word captures the essence of these three mini-vignettes? Priorities!
In his fine commentary on Luke, Darrel Bock writes:
Service for the Kingdom begins at the moment we receive Jesus and continues until the Father calls us home. What does this look like? In detail, it is different for each person. Some are called to serve where they grew up; others are called to journey thousands of miles away. Some live I hardship and lose their life for their faith, like Peter who died for the faith; while others live a long life, like John who died of old age. What is the same for all, is that the call of discipleship should have priority over everything else. 3
After Luke 9:51 the disciples discover that it will take allegiance, commitment, dedication, determination, devotion, faithfulness, fortitude, grit, loyalty, perseverance, resolve, and especially sacrifice. Indeed all the disciples save one, John, are martyred for the cause.
What does this look like for us?
One way for us to consider this is by reminding ourselves of a document that our leaders created a couple years ago. CrossPointe’s Marks of a Mature Member were our attempt to encapsulate what it means to be a committed disciple:
I am a church member. I have been adopted into Christ’s universal church through faith in Christ to my forgive sins (Ephesians 5:5-7). I will join with other members at CrossPointe Community Church to participate in the body of Christ” (I Corinthians 12:27). I will attend corporate worship services to honor Christ and to grow in grace. I will individually engage in prayer and the reading of the scriptures in order to become more like Jesus. I will help build up the body of Christ by loving, serving, giving, and offering Christ to the people in my sphere of influence.
I am a church member. In addition to my personal prayers, I will pray for our church’s leaders and our ministry. I will pray that God’s Kingdom will come, that His will be done on earth (in our midst) as it is in heaven. I will also pray for fellow church members as the need arises (Matthew 6:10, Colossians 4:3).
I am a church member. I will be a source of unity in His church. I understand that people in the church are not perfect; that includes me. I will not be a source of gossip or conflict. I will not judge others. I will do all I can to humbly accept, love and forgive others (Ephesians 4:1-6).
I am a church member. I am in this church to serve others and to serve Christ (Romans 12:1). Therefore, I will not let my preferences and desires adversely affect my participation. I will humbly follow the directives of our church leaders who have been called by God to advance His Kingdom.
I am a church member. In order to honor Christ, I will make a prayerful, informed decision about the giving of a portion of my income to Christ’s Church (II Corinthians 9:7).
I am a church member. I will view this membership as a gift of God; therefore, I will not take membership for granted. I am humbled and honored to serve and to love others through the church and thereby participate in building up the Kingdom of God.
I am a church member. And I thank God that I am.
Did you hear the “I wills”? There are sixteen of them in that document? Did you hear the verbs? “Attend, engage, love, serve, give, offer, pray, accept, forgive, and follow.” The 16 “I wills” coupled with the 10 verbs indicate that following Christ is almost as challenging for disciples today as it was for disciples then.
I read about a Christian woman asking her pastor about what his idea of commitment was. He held up a blank sheet of paper and said, “It is to sign your name at the bottom of this blank sheet, and to let God fill it in as He will.”
And I thank God for you, my friends, for accepting the challenge; for signing your names, for your continued commitment, etc to Christ’s church in this place. For adhering to this document to the best of your ability for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom!
It’s not easy, but following Jesus is what makes life thrilling!
For as you know, Jesus doesn’t ask us to follow Him solely for our own benefit; to be sure, being a disciple of Christ helps us to live well. But Jesus implores us, as He implored the disciples to follow Him primarily so that we could assist Him in bringing God’s Kingdom to earth.
And that is what makes living life great. I can’t think of a more exciting way for you and me to live than remembering that we have the opportunity every day to help Christ build His Kingdom one act of love at a time, one life at a time.
Knowing that He is inviting us to participate with Him in Kingdom building enables us to add bravery, enthusiasm, joy, and zeal to our allegiance, commitment, dedication, loyalty, and sacrifice.
When Julius Caesar landed on the shores of Britain with his Roman legions, he took a bold and decisive step to ensure the success of his military venture. Ordering his men to march to the edge of the Cliffs of Dover, he commanded them to look down at the water below. To their amazement, they saw every ship in which they had crossed the channel engulfed in flames. Caesar had deliberately cut off any possibility of retreat. Now that his soldiers were unable to return to the security of the continent, there was nothing left for them to do but to advance and conquer! And that is exactly what they did. 4
Let it likewise be said of us that we, each of us, are sold out to advancing Christ’s Kingdom one act of love and service one life at a time. Let us be said of us that on October 15, 2017, we rededicated our lives to being mature members of Christ’s Church. Let it be said of us that we have recommitted ourselves to being His disciples and that we never looked back.
We have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back!
2 Swindoll, Charles R. Improving Your Serve, [Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1981] page 29.
3 Bock, Darrell, L. Luke: The NIV Application Commentary. [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996] pages 288-289.