Just out of curiosity, what is the most expensive thing you’ve ever purchased? Was it a house? Car? Boat? What did it cost you? Was it worth it? Many of us spend our lives in the pursuit of things. We work really hard in the hopes that our work will afford us things like a house, car, a huge tv, maybe a boat. For guys, of course, the toys are always bigger and more expensive. They say a man’s most expensive hobby starts at $.97 (which refers to Hot Wheels). Growing up, cars were a very important part of my life. To this day, my dad’s biggest obsession is with cars and racing. When it comes to the things that are most important to you, though, the question really isn’t how much does it cost. The real question is what are you willing to sacrifice for it. How much are you willing to give for the things that are most important to you?
Jesus never shied away from talking about the cost of being His disciple. Luke 9:23 – 27 (NIV) says “The he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.’”
Today, we are closing out our series on the Sermon On The Mount. I hope that you have all been challenged over these last 16 messages, and that you have been able to apply each message to your everyday lives. My prayer for this series is that we would all grow from it, and I can personally attest to how challenging the last 3 months have been, both personally and spiritually.
In the closing part of the Sermon on The Mount, Jesus talked about wise and foolish builders, and he talked about how one counts the cost before beginning a project, lest he look like a fool if unable to complete it. There were times, during this series, when I thought about how easy it would be to simply skim over the last few sections of Scripture in one broad message and be done with it. After digging in to each section individually, however, I’m very glad that I didn’t do that. In studying each section, and forcing myself to look into each topic and how it relates to my own life, I have grown in ways I could have never imagined, and I hope that others can say the same.
There are 3 different sections of the Sermon on the Mount we are going to cover in this message, because I believe they all discuss the same topic, even though they have been broken up by man into different categories. Our first section is Matthew 7:13 – 14 (NIV), which says “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” That brings me to my first point.
1. Real Faith Will Always Cost You Something
I’ve had several friends over the years who have stopped coming to church because they say that the church is full of hypocrites. While I believe that will always be the case, as none of us will ever be perfect, it also saddens me to see so many people who come to church on Sunday’s, then go back into the world on Monday and live as if they had never been to church. Kyle Idleman, pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Kentucky said “Can you really say you’re carrying your cross if it hasn’t cost you anything?” You see, Jesus doesn’t just call us to believe in Him. He calls us to sacrifice everything for Him. Look at Matthew 7:21 – 23 (NIV), which says “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evil-doers!’” It is not enough to simply have faith in Jesus. In his book The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” This does not necessarily mean that we are to die physical deaths, although many have given their lives for their faith. What he is saying is we must be willing to sacrifice everything, even our lives, to follow Christ. Colossians 3:5 – 8 (NIV) says “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature; sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” My next point is this:
2. Following Christ Should Be Our Greatest Pursuit
In Matthew 19, Jesus meets a man who is referred to only as the rich, young ruler. He asks Jesus what he must do to be saved, and Jesus tells him that he is to obey the commandments. When he says that he has, Jesus challenges him further by saying “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21 NIV). We are told that the man walked away sad, because he had great wealth.
Pursuing Christ should be the most important thing to us, and we should be willing to sacrifice everything to do so. Jesus often used moments when He had the biggest crowds to say the things that He knew would not go over well with them. He was not afraid to challenge people, because He knew that what He had to offer them was more than the world offers. In her book Passion & Purity:Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Control, Elizabeth Elliott says “We are not meant to die merely in order to be dead. God could not want that for the creatures to whom He has given the breath of life. We die in order to live.” The life that we give up when we decide to follow Christ is nothing compared to the joy that awaits us in eternity.
John 12:20 – 26 (NIV) says Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to workship at the Feast. They came to Phillip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee with a request. ‘Sir’, they said, ‘we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” My last point is this:
3. Others Should Know We Are Servants of Christ By The Way We Serve
If we are not willing to serve God and others, then we cannot say that we are truly followers of Christ. Matthew 23:1 – 12 (NIV) says “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples; ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men called them Rabbi. But you are not to be called Rabbi, for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth father, for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called teacher, for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” As followers of Christ, we are to be humble, and treat others as better than ourselves. In his book The Pursuit of God, AW Tozier says “Jesus calls us to His rest, and meekness is His method. The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort.” My prayer is that we all count the cost of follow Christ, and decide to do so.
We are so thankful that You call us to follow You, and that the life that You offer is so much better than what the world can offer us. I pray that each and every one of us would answer the call to come and die, and be raised up with You. Lord, we need You so much, and so much more than we are willing to admit most of the time. Thank You for meeting us where we are, no matter where that is, and still calling us to follow You. It’s in Your Name we pray.
Next week, we will be starting a new, 3-week series called Grace Wins, and we will begin with a message entitled Grace Wins Over Sin. I pray that you have all been challenged over these 16 messages, and that you use them as a guide to help you in your walk with Christ. Have a blessed week.