It costs to follow Jesus.
“The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“Push back against the age as hard as it pushes against you. What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross.” -Flannery O’Connor
I’ve read two Lifeway Research articles this week that reveal the same thing this text does. And it makes me see how much we are like the rich young ruler who turns away from following Jesus. The research revealed that pastors see comfort as the most significant modern-day idol that has a significant influence on their congregation. They also see people’s apathy or lack of commitment as the most challenging people dynamics in their ministry.
Many people, Christians even, don’t want to pay the price that comes with following Jesus. We would rather have comfort and not commit to something that might impose on our schedule or our comforts. But I want to tell you tonight, whatever the cost is that comes with following Jesus, he is worth it.
Jesus is worth it.
When you aren’t in Christ, when you’re not saved, when you’re not regenerate, you have faulty hardware. You’re not working properly. Your mind deceives you. Your desires entice you. You can see the things of the world as greater than Christ. You can even see God as evil and repulsive. Romans 1:18-25 makes this very clear to us. The truth is suppressed because of unrighteousness.
Some people will say, “Well if I view God as evil and manipulative and bad, he is. Who are you to say any different? If I view him that way, he is that way to me.” A lot of people live this way. What they think or feel is what reality is. I want you to think about this, though. We don’t live this way with our physical bodies…why would we expect to with spiritual realities?
Let’s take Covid-19 as an example. What was one of the original weird symptoms? People were losing their smell and taste. I want you to think about this. Something was wrong with them. They had a disease that made them experience reality in a way that didn’t actually correspond with reality.
Here’s what I mean. You could eat a piece of cake and say, “That’s not sweet. It’s actually bitter.” That is how that person experiences cake. They could say, just like we saw before about God, “Well if I view cake as bitter and disgusting and bad, it is. Who are you to say any different? If I view it that way, it is that way to me.” Would they be right? No. We could factually say, “Look how much sugar is in it. This cake is in no way bitter.” They were experiencing real reality in a wrong way because they had a disease.
It’s the same with God. The disease is sin. The Bible makes it very clear. And you can deny it all day long, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the disease. And the only cure is Jesus. And once you are cured, here’s what the Bible says you will experience about God: “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!” –Psalm 34:8. Here’s what the Bible says you will experience about God’s Word: “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” –Psalm 19:10
It doesn’t only say that, but hear the next verse, which goes along with our encounter with Jesus in Luke 18.
“Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” –Psalm 19:11
We are warned of our disease, and we are told of the cure. And what follows if we listen and follow Jesus, even though it is costly, there is a great reward.
The reward for following Jesus is greater than what you give up to follow him.
Earlier in his ministry, Jesus said this to those that would follow him:
Luke 9:23 – And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Jesus said this before he was crucified. Jesus took up his cross so we could follow him.
We are going to talk about Peter in next week’s message. Peter was with him when he said these things about taking up our cross and following him. And he did follow Jesus, at great cost. Hear what Peter says in our text for tonight…after we read of the man not following Jesus because it was too costly. I want you to hear what Peter says, but more importantly I want you to hear what Jesus says in response.
The same Peter that spoke up and said that they have left everything, tradition says was also crucified upside down. Every day we are to crucify our flesh. That’s what it takes to follow Jesus. But what we gain in return is far greater than what we could ever give up in following Jesus. We taste and see every day that the Lord is good…and on into eternity.
Will you follow Jesus?
 The Habit of Being: The Letters of Flannery O’Connor, ed. Sally Fitzgerald (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1979), p. 229.