Worship Theme: The Gifted Life Keeps Jesus as the Highest Priority
Sermon Theme: What Price Are You Willing to Pay?
In Luke 14:25-35, Jesus asks us all to consider what it will take to follow him! He assures us that there will be a cost, and then he asks us “What Price Are You Willing to Pay?” September 4, 2022.
Darby Island is one island in the chain of islands called the Exuma Cays which is a part of the country you know as the Bahamas. Darby Island is 554 acres and has 21,650 feet of waterfront, many of which are beautiful white sandy beaches. The island has a natural harbor as well as a spectacular 7,000 square foot residence. And the best part is it’s for sale! The whole island could be yours! It’s always good to know something about your neighbors. If you owned Darby Island, you would know something about your neighbors. The two closest islands are owned by illusionist David Copperfield! It all could be yours. All you have to do is come up with $39 million. (I bet if you paid in cash, you could get it for cheaper!)
The C SEED 201 is quite a TV. It weighs 3500 pounds. It has 201-inch display and it is custom built for outdoor viewing. It is produced by Porsche Design Studios. You might be thinking, that sounds more like an engine or motor company than a TV brand. You’ll understand in just a second. At the touch of a button its 7 LED panels fold up into its housing which then retracts into its underground storage compartment. Once folded, the doors of the compartment close and hide it from sight. Similarly, with another touch of a button, the same happens in reverse – the 7 panels emerge and arrange themselves to be one giant screen. Can you imagine hosting a Packers’ party with that in your backyard! How much fun would that be! Oh yeah – I should mention that the TV costs $680,000!
If money weren’t an issue there are a lot of nice things that you could have in life – right? But the thing is that money is an issue? Whether you are talking about a big purchase like a house or a car (or an island) or something simple like tools or clothing or groceries – it’s a question that needs to be considered: What Price Are You Willing to Pay? What benefits will you gain buying this house over that one? What is all included in the asking price? How much home can you afford? Is the quality and style that you get from an expensive article of clothing make it worth it to purchase or would you be better off getting two items of a cheaper brand? Will the tool that you purchase save you enough time and effort to justify the price tag or is it something that you can accomplish by hand? Is the higher price worth it to get the organic produce or are you content with purchasing the regular produce? Is DiGiorgio’s pizza worth it or would you rather have 3 Jack’s pizzas for the same price?
Anyone who has ever been to a store of any kind has asked and answered the question What Price Are You Willing to Pay? By the things that you put in the cart and also by the things that you left on the shelves, you determined what was worth buying and what was not.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks us all to consider what it will take to follow him. He assures us that there will be a cost, and then he asks us “What Price Are You Willing to Pay?”
If it’s unwise to build a tower without considering the cost…if it’s foolish to go into a war without deciding first if it’s even possible to win…how much more foolish is it to begin a journey without considering what it will take to finish?
Think about that for a second. What if you decided this afternoon that you wanted to travel to Los Angeles. You don’t have a car, but you like to walk. What would happen if you just started walking? You know that you have to go generically west and a little south, but you aren’t exactly sure what is the best route. Even if you knew the best route, there’s still a problem. I know a few things that you might not know: There are 2005 miles between Milwaukee and Los Angeles. On foot it would take you 671 hours to walk! 671 hours – that’s 29 days – without stopping! So, in reality this is a 2-month excursion that you would be considering. You’d be wise to stop and consider if that’s a feasible and safe plan. Is that a journey that your body will be able to handle? Where are you going to sleep, what are you going to eat? What about wild animals and the Rocky Mountains and the heat of the American southwest?
So, if you wouldn’t start a 2-month journey without stopping to consider the risks and the costs, why would you even begin to consider a life long journey without carefully considering the cost. Is it worth it to follow Jesus? What Price Are You Willing to Pay?
Jesus tells us a bit about the cost in following him: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Jesus uses strong language to relate a truth that he is strongly serious about. Following Jesus means making him the most important thing in our lives. He is to be more important to us than even those who are closest to us in our lives. He is to be closer to us than spouse or sibling, parent or child. Jesus isn’t calling on us to be unloving to our family, but he is calling on us to be quite clearly more willing to listen and live for him than for anyone else.
But perhaps the most difficult phrases in Jesus’ words to us today are the ones that he speaks about our relationship with ourselves. It’s not just other people that God calls on us to hate, he says that following him means that a person must hate - yes, even their own life. That means that discipleship requires that we choose him instead of ourselves. In another place where Jesus was teaching this same truth he said “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it (Matthew 16:24-25).
And this is a problem for us, because we are selfish creatures. We are far more likely to live the way we want to than to subject ourselves to anyone else. We stand up for our own liberties and loathe the thought of being answerable to anyone. And it shows in our attitudes. That’s revealed in our actions. To use Jesus’ words – we strive to save our lives and, in the process, we end up deserving to lose them.
Strong language again, but Jesus speaks about people who can’t or won’t pay the price of discipleship. He speaks harshly about those who don’t put their money where their mouth is by actually living fully and faithfully for Jesus. “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. We deserve to be dispensed with – thrown away from God’s presence cast forever into hell.
We are full of ourselves and for that we deserve to be emptied and humbled. But there is one for whom the opposite is true and we can thank God for it. Christ Jesus was full of holiness and perfection and glory – and yet he emptied himself. He humbled himself and came to live in our place. He humbly lived the life of a servant. He lived a perfect life to satisfy God’s demands of us. He gave us his perfection and in return he took on our sin. He was willing to pay the price that we deserved to pay. He was willing to suffer and even to die, so that we could be forgiven. Jesus’ blood was the price, the only price, that could pay for our sins. Jesus paid that price to cover our debt and the payment was accepted by the Father! God proved it by raising Jesus from the dead. Jesus lives to show us that death can’t hold us either. Because Jesus paid the price to win our forgiveness, now we are empowered to live our lives for him.
And empowered to live for Jesus, now we can live the disciple’s life that he describes. We can thank God for the close relationships he blesses us with while always making our relationship with him number one. We can gladly pay the price of discipleship, because Jesus has paid a far bigger price to make us who are. With Jesus in our lives and his Spirit living in our hearts we can live out our faith and celebrate his love in all that we think, say or do. We can live lives of obedience, ervice and love because our Savior has shown us the way. With him at our side, we can live disciple lives – facing all that life in this world might bring. With Jesus’ help and in his strength, we can carry the cross and give our all to the one who gave his very life for us. We can resist temptation and bear up under hardships because as the Apostle Paul once said “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
With Jesus living in our hearts and working with us as we live our lives, we can now do what was impossible for us to do before – we can follow our God. We can live as his children and rejoice to be in the best family of all.
There’s a price to pay to follow Jesus – but it’s a price that he makes possible for us to pay. So, consider the cost. Then rejoice that faith makes it a no-brainer. Jesus is our only Savior. We’ve been loved and adopted by our heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit puts faith in our hearts to believe his words of promise. We will follow in the footsteps of our God - wherever he might guide us, onto whichever paths he leads - because he knows that he is the one that holds us and will never let us go. He is the one who has opened heaven and promised to take us from this world of tears to the place of unending joy. He loves us and he always will!
So, lead on, gracious God, and we, with joy, will follow! Amen.
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