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The Cost of Discipleship


Gospel – Matthew. We’ve been reading through the gospel of Matthew together. Simply b/c it’s important to understand the life of Jesus.

And this weeks text is a doozy.

We’re going to be reading from Matthew, but there’s also some really good related stuff in Luke, so we’ll be there as well.

Title: The Cost of Discipleship

Salvation costs you nothing, but discipleship will cost you everything.



Let me read some scriptures to you, then we’ll come back and discuss them.

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16)

Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. (Matthew 10:17)


“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. (Matthew 10:21)

You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22)

Verse 32

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. (Matthew 10:32)

But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. (Matthew 10:33)

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:34)

For I have come to turn “ ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— (Matthew 10:35)

a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ (Matthew 10:36)

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37)

Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:38)

Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:39)

“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. (Luke 14:26)

Jesus was a terrible salesman.

People were always coming to him and wanting to be a part, and then he would say stuff that would scare them away.

Of course the whole ‘eat my flesh & drink my blood’ thing was very unpopular and then there’s this whole thing that he has about hating your family.

Sometimes I wonder how Jesus’s ministry would do in America in 2017.

We live in a society where churches value growth above everything else.

And I think often times the result are these safe, boring ministries that never say anything real or hard because they’re scared of scaring people off. Especially the rich people who pay the bills.

‘Seeker Friendly’ I want to be ‘seeker friendly’, just not more seeker friendly than Jesus.

Title I ALMOST used : Hate your mom and follow Jesus. But how can you put that on facebook?

And it’s actually not just your mom, it’s your dad too, and your wife or husband! And your kids!

And you might be thinking: “Well it must be a translation error! – People obviously mistranslated the greek text” – Nope, they didn’t.

My mom. I know most of you know my mom.

I do NOT hate my parents. My parents are the best. I know you think your parents are the best, they’re NOT the best, mine are the best.

NOT – Literally hate

So just to show my hand a little, Jesus is OF COURSE not saying that you literally must hate your family members.

  • Eph 5 – Husbands MUST love their wives.
  • Titus 2 – Wives should love their husbands.

We’re supposed to love and care for our kids, and love our parents, he’s saying that God is in a totally different category.

So what is he talking about?

Luke 14

Let’s look again at Luke 14

“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. (Luke 14:26)

What an intense thing to say! It’s intense in our day, and it was intense in their day. These are people that KNEW the 10 commandments.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the 10 commandments. But I’d make a GUESS, that if I called you up here right now to say the 10 commandments, that you couldn’t do it.

I remember when I was in bible college, we’re all these young bible scalars wannabes, and a professor walks up to us, and says ‘Hey you guys know the 10 commandments?’ And we’re like “PSH! YEAH!!! Of course we do.” We didn’t.

The 10 commandments are a summation of the law of Moses.

Commandment 5 – Honor your father and mother.

So this is shocking!!


Darrell Bock : “The call to hate simply means to love less. The image is strong, but it is not a call to be insensitive or to leave all feeling behind. Following Jesus is to be the disciple’s first love. This pursuit is to have priority over family members and one’s own life, which means that other concerns are to take second place to following Jesus.”

“The call to hate simply means to love less. The image is strong, but it is not a call to be insensitive or to leave all feeling behind. Following Jesus is to be the disciple’s first love. This pursuit is to have priority over family members and one’s own life, which means that other concerns are to take second place to following Jesus.” (Darrell Bock – Great theologian)

Language of Bible.

Jesus here is using the language of the Bible.

You could say it like this: ‘Hate’ means to ‘choose against’.

Jacob & Esau.

You’ll recall in the Old Testament, there were two brothers, Jacob and Esau. In Romans 9, God says: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” Which seems like a very mean thing to say. – Especially when you consider that Esau was pretty much the victim and Jacob was the scoundrel.

It’s not saying that God just hated the older brother for no reason, but loved Jacob. No, it’s saying that he chose to bring his people through Jacob.

So when Jesus says ‘I’ve come to turn son against father.’ He’s not saying that we should hate each other, he’s saying that we have to choose God OVER each other.

Let’s keep reading


Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:27)

He’s talking about your Christianity costing you something.

Jesus when talking about the cost of discipleship uses some of the strongest language in his entire ministry.

Not just someone who ‘believes’ in Jesus, but someone who hangs their entire life on that belief.

Jesus is going to ask you whether or not you truly want to be his follower.

BTW – this has become a saying in modern culture ‘It’s my cross to bare.’

“My car broke down and I have to take the bus, it’s my cross to bear.” No it’s not.

To carry your cross, is a death sentence. This is walking the green mile. He’s talking about death.

Your Christian faith costing your everything.

What the crowd wanted, and still wants, is just for Jesus to provide great things. – Healing, and lots of money, and I want you to make me feel real good about myself.

But Jesus says there’s a COST to following me.

You have to count the cost. Meaning: You have to decide if you’re willing to make the sacrifice required to follow me.

Count Cost


“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? (Luke 14:28)

For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, (Luke 14:29)

saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ (Luke 14:30)

“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? (Luke 14:31)

If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. (Luke 14:32)

So again: Following Jesus will cost you something.

Comparison – builder building tower. / King.

And Jesus makes the comparison of a builder building a tower. And he says what kind of dumb builder starts building something and not knowing how much it’s gonna cost? Or what dumb king goes to war without knowing how many men he has compared to how many the other King has?

In the same way, we have to consider the fact that following Jesus costs us something.

So are you saying there’s not benefits?

OF COURSE there’s benefits! “Bless the Lord of my soul, and forget not all his benefits.“ Psalm 103.

But what I AM saying is this: His benefits come at a cost.

He sums the whole thing up in vs 33:

In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. (Luke 14:33)

The cost of following Jesus is that we have to be willing to give up everything.

Jesus talks a lot about what we would call the ‘cost of discipleship’ a phrase made popular by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Which was a German pastor, who was ultimately hanged by the Nazi’s for speaking out against hitler.

So it’s a man who knew something about beliefs costing something.

He’s saying that your relationship with God has to be far above, in it’s own category, above any other relationship you have.

No one can be as significant to us as Him. No one.

Matthew 8:19-22

Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” (Matthew 8:19)

Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20)

Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” (Matthew 8:21)

But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:22)

So here’s 2 guys who want to follow Jesus, but aren’t willing to make the sacrifice. BTW, regarding the whole ‘Let the dead bury their own dead’ thing, – What you may not understand here is that this process could take up to a year. And this man was likely just making an excuse for not following Jesus.

Jesus warning — following Him – cost lives.

So Jesus was warning these guys that for them, following Him would likely cost them their lives. And in the case of the 12 disciples, this of course WAS true. They were all executed expect for possibly one – John – who church history tells us was boiled alive in Oil, but survived, so they just banished him.

That’s not likely going to happen to you. If you’re an American Christian, you almost certainly haven’t experienced persecution. – “But they don’t say God bless you at the mall anymore!” – Yup, not persecution.

“I took my bible to school and another kid called me a dork!” – Not persecution.

So for us, the ‘cost’ of Christianity is much lower than it has been in centuries past. It just is.

But that’s not to say that following Jesus doesn’t cost us anything. It does. Or maybe I’ll say it this way: It SHOULD.

Jesus is saying that if you want to follow me, there’s certain parts of you that you have to way ‘goodbye’ to. Or at least say ‘You’re less important than Jesus.’

2 sources of identity that we must leave as followers of Jesus.

1. Leave our Social Identity

Family is GOOD.

It’s part of God’s good creation.

I’m a family guy.

So that’s why it’s intense when Jesus says I have to leave my family to follow Jesus.

Again, he’s not saying you don’t love your family, but he’s saying you have to love your family less than you love Jesus.

In certain cultures, choosing to follow Jesus results in you being cut off from the family. In fact, there’s extreme cultures in the world where if you depart from the family faith a choose Christianity instead, they’ll have a funeral ceremony for you. Even though you’re still alive.

Jesus is warning you that not everyone will approve of a life committed to him.

Not some cult. So Jesus isn’t saying we’re not supposed to love our mom and dad, and sister, and brother, and husband, and wife, and kids. We’re not some cult that says ‘You can’t call your mama anymore! We’re your family now.”

No, he’s saying we have to take our love for our family and “subordinate” that to your love for Jesus.

So we actually acknowledge that there’s something that unites us that even deeper than blood.

The best of both worlds is this: If you’re a follower of Christ, and you have family members who follow Christ, you can be both natural AND spiritual family. That’s the best of all.

So Jesus is simply saying that you CAN love your family more than you love him. But don’t. You can’t be more devoted to your family than you are to him.

2. Leave our Political Identity

I’m sure you’re tensing up.

It’s just like Jesus was saying with hating mom and dad.

It’s not that you hate them, it’s that your love for those things are ‘subordinate’ to your love for Jesus.

Same – true – love of country. Same is true for your love of country. – Super cool to love your country. You’re an American, you SHOULD love the country you live in, but you ‘subordinate’ your love for country to your love for Jesus.

Let me just say it like this:

It’s fine to be a republican, just so long as you’re more Christian than republican. It’s fine to be a democrat, just so long as you’re more Christian than democrat. It’s ok to be Green Party, independent, tea party, just so long as you’re Christian first and that stuff second.

It shouldn’t be close.

And how can you tell? By how you spend your time.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we don’t find our identity in either who we support politically OR who we oppose politically.

It’s fine to support and oppose people and policies and all that, but we just keep in mind that that’s not our main thing. It’s our side gig, but we never let it become our main thing.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. I don’t know if you knew this or not, but Martin Luther King Jr wasn’t just a social rights activist, he was also a pastor. He said some INCREDIBLY unpopular things.

Sermon: “Pauls Letter to American Christians” – Preached in Alabama in 1956

There are many Christians in America who give their ultimate allegiance to man-made systems and customs. They are afraid to be different. Their great concern is to be accepted socially. They live by principles such as this: “everybody is doing it, so it must be alright.” For so many of you, Morality is merely group consensus. You have unconsciously come to believe that right is discovered by taking a sort of Gallup poll of the majority opinion. Too many Christians are giving their ultimate allegiance to this way.

But American Christians, I must say to you as I said to the Roman Christians years ago, “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Or, as I said to the Philippian Christians, “You are a colony of heaven.” This means that although you live in the colony of time, your ultimate allegiance is to the empire of eternity. You have a dual citizenry. You live both in time and eternity; both in heaven and earth. Therefore, your ultimate allegiance is not to the government, not to the state, not to nation, not to any man-made institution. The Christian owes his ultimate allegiance to God, and if any earthly institution conflicts with God’s will, it is your Christian duty to take a stand against it. You must never allow the worldly demands of man-made institutions to take precedence over the eternal demands of the Almighty God.


We live in a society filled with quitters. “When things get hard, it’s ok to quit.”

So people quit on God, they quit on their marriage, they quit on their kids, their quit on their calling.

Everything that matters is hard.

Everything that matters costs you something.

There will be a time when you being a Jesus follower costs you something.

Continue to follow Him above all else.

Funeral yesterday I did a funeral yesterday, and doing funerals always puts me in this place of thinking about life. So let me say this: 100 years from now, we’re all gonna be dead. And some of us are gonna have sometime to show for our lives and some of us won’t. So be the person who follows after God above everything else. Do you really want to be a person who’s remembered for following after money?

Let your life matter. Let your life matter. Have the courage to push through even when it costs you something. Even when it costs you everything. Push through, do something beautiful.

Prepare – Communion

So what I want you to do is what Jesus told us to do: Count the cost.

Is there anything in my priorities that is out of whack.

Social / family / money / political ?

(Apostles Creed)


Serious about being your followers.

And we hear you when you say we have to count the cost.

We’re being honest – it’s hard. B/C there’s a lot of fear.

Some of us are terrified at the idea of renouncing and leaving the world behind.

We ask – you would speak clearly

Make that ‘Christ follower’ part of us the most real.