My first experience in contracting was as a “go fer”. You know, “Dave, go for this, and Dave, go for that”. In between running from construction site to construction site, I would sometimes work as a laborer. One day as I was nailing on some sheathing, the foreman came up to me and said, “Erl (the owner of the company) wants to see you in the office after work.” All that I could think of was, “I’m going to get laid off. I can tell things are slowing down, and I’m the most recent one hired.” So bracing myself with prayer, I drove to the office on Green Island Ave, in Latham, New York. “Lord, what am I going to do? You know our needs! How will I provide for Sharon and Kyle?” As I walked with trepidation into the office, expecting bad news, Erl asked in his usual straight to the point manner, “How would you like to estimate for me?” I was quick to reply, “I’d be glad to, but I don’t know anything about estimating buildings.” His simple answer was, “That’s no problem; I’ll teach you.” So began my career as a construction estimator!
Sometime later as I was reading through Luke, I “found” verses 28-30, which became my “life’s verses” as an estimator. I have had farmers tell me that they had a real-life understanding about what Jesus meant in passages like Luke 9:62. I think I have a similar appreciation for 14:28-30. I could tell you many stories about construction estimating. But the main point of this passage is not about estimating the cost of buildings or preparing proper strategy for a war. Instead, Jesus is confronting the crowds following him about the true cost of discipleship, of following Christ.
Let us not mistake what Jesus is talking about. He is talking about eternal life, for to be saved in the teaching of Jesus is to be a disciple or follower of Christ (Matthew 28:19). But in this passage the Lord Jesus is not talking about how to be saved, which is by turning from one’s sin to trust in Him, but about the character of those who truly turn from their sins to be saved by faith in Christ alone.
The Lord Jesus made solemn statement about following him. First, think about the form of this solemn statement.
- It is a conditional statement in the general form, “If anyone does not… he/she cannot be my disciple.”
- This conditional statement is repeated three times. When anyone repeats in this way, he is obviously and deliberately making a point. Jesus is clearly saying that some people cannot be his followers. This bothers people, and it ought to! But Jesus seeks true followers, who will receive eternal life, not false followers, to whom he will say those most terrible words, “Depart from me. I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23).
This was a shocking statement in Jesus’ time and it still is in ours. People are impressed by numbers. If the crowds are present, people think that something is successful. But one thing that you learn as you study the Bible is that the Lord is not afraid to “thin the ranks”. God is not impressed by crowds of people or by anything else he created. He wants quality before quantity. A graphic example is the size of Gideon’s army. The Lord reduced it from 32,000 to 10,000 to 300.
We must watch out for a trap of the enemy at this point. The evil one will attempt to use this to lessen our zeal and to draw us into inactivity. He will whisper, “That’s right! Just minister to the few you have. Build them into strong converts. Most large churches are terribly shallow anyway. Don’t be like them!” The trap is that the evil one wants us to think that the choice is between, on the one hand, large and zealous and, on the other, small and spiritual. But the truth is that we ought to be both zealous and spiritual and let God take care of the results.
The Lord Jesus Christ wants us to understand that no one can follow him unless he or she truly repents. A deep change of mind about God, Christ, oneself, sin, and salvation is required! Until this happens, a person cannot really follow Christ. Oh, we might be religious, attend church, read our Bibles, but have we truly become followers of Jesus Christ? Are we pursuing Him?
“Hark, Ten Thousand Harps and Voices”: (second verse)
Jesus, hail! Whose glory brightens all above and gives it worth;
Lord of life, Thy smile enlightens, cheers and charms Thy saints on earth:
When we think of love like Thine, Lord, we own it love divine.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen!
Do you have this view of the Lord Jesus?
Grace and peace, David