Count the Cost and Be Valiant
Well, here we are again, meeting a Jesus that just doesn’t sound like the Jesus whom we hear so much about – you know, nice, warm, inviting, picking daisies all along the way. Instead what we see here, in the Scriptures, are “great crowds” following him. And Jesus turns to these crowds and says to them, in no uncertain terms, “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.” Wow! I get the feeling that Jesus was exasperated. Here was this great throng of people following him as he draws closer and closer to his life’s mission of dying on a cross in Jerusalem, and it is obvious that these people have no clue. And it wasn’t for lack of trying on Jesus’ part.
Okay, so scholars tell me that Jesus’ use of the word, “hate,” is a Semitic expression. I accept that. But it still does not detract from what Jesus was trying to tell these people – and us. There are conditions for being a follower of Jesus, and he couldn’t be any plainer than he is here. We must love Jesus more than any and every one else and any and every other thing in this world. “Well, everyone knows that!” Really? We must understand that “love” in the Bible is not a warm, fuzzy feeling; it’s an action. Indeed, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15), not, “If you love me, you will feel good about yourself and be successful.”
Then Jesus draws two very sharp illustrations. Does a man begin to build a tower before determining whether he can finish it? Does a king go into battle before deciding if he can win it? And do we not mock people who do such foolish things? In other words, there is a cost to such endeavors, and you must decide ahead of time whether or not you are willing to pay the price. And following Jesus is such an endeavor. It is costly; indeed, it will cost you everything you have. That is why Jesus ends with this, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
We must not domesticate Jesus. Aslan is not a tame lion. I am wondering if God is about to bring the church in America to her knees. We are surrounded by Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, all around, and they are demanding that we bow the knee to Baal, and are calling us “haters” when we don’t. A man will only fight for a valiant general. Praise the Lord we have such a general. Will we be such soldiers? If so, know the cost.