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The Cost of Discipleship

"18 When Jesus saw large crowds around Him, He gave the order to go to the other side of the sea. 19 A scribe approached Him and said, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go!”
20 Jesus told him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”
21 “Lord,” another of His disciples said, “first let me go bury my father.”
22 But Jesus told him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead."
Matthew 8:18-22 

We've all heard the saying, nothing in life is free. So, what is the cost of discipleship? Jesus urged His followers to count the cost, but have any of us really taken the time to think about the cost of following Jesus, and have we settled in our hearts that we are willing to follow Him, no matter what the cost?

Martin Luther said, "A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing."

And my personal favorite:
"If you want to follow Jesus," remarked the activist priest Berigan, "you had better look good on wood."

Good Morning Beloved,

Thank you all for joining us today
It is my great honor and privilege, to be able to share with, through Matthew, this incredible account of the life of Jesus Christ. His divinity is unquestionable. His power is astonishingly unfathomable.
His purity is undeniable.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for Your Word and the privilege of worshiping You
Help us O Lord, to be obedient to Your Word and apply the truths revealed to us today
Lead us to live for the eternal, and not the earthly. Strengthen us to preach the good news of Jesus Christ, all for Your glory and increase in the kingdom. Help us to set our priorities on those things which are above. Create in us a heart with a willingness to sacrifice all for You, as You sacrificed Your life for us. Give to us a desire to give up everything we have, knowing full well, we've lost nothing, as You give back to us, far more than we can ever imagine. Help us to  know that it’s not what we have in this life, but it’s our attitude toward what we have.

O' precious Lord, may this ministry make no disciples who walk away from Christ because of personal comfort, personal possessions, personal relationships. Father, we pray that we might be contemplating how Your Spirit applies this to our own lives first before we think of asking others to apply it to theirs
We pray these things in Christs' name.

Today's Message: The Cost of Discipleship

Jesus Christ, men marveled at His miracles, Jewish religious feared His authority.
He has been either loved, hated, feared, rejected or denied by every man on planet earth, for the past 2000 years. He healed the sick, raised the dead, confronted the self-righteous, convicted those who misused and abused their power and position, He forgave the unforgivable, and yet He died for them all.

Let’s open your Bibles, if you would, to the gospel of Matthew, the 8th chapter. Today, we'll be studying this marvelous gospel, which records of the life our Lord Jesus Christ, as seen by Matthew by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I’ve entitled the message this morning from verses 18 through 22,
Matthew 8:18-22. Allow me to read this to you to get settled in our minds this rich and marvelous text.

"When Jesus saw large crowds around Him, He gave the order to go to the other side of the sea. A scribe approached Him and said, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go!”
Jesus told him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”
“Lord,” another of His disciples said, “first let me go bury my father.”
But Jesus told him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead."

The world has been a difficult and trying place for those who are seriously committed to following Christ. The following are a few statistics that I've gathered from the World Evangelical Encyclopedia:

Since the death of Jesus Christ, 2000 years ago;
43 million Christians have become martyrs
Over 50% of these were in the last century alone
More than 200 million Christians face persecution each day, 60% of whom are children
Every day over 300 people are killed for their faith in Jesus Christ.

This is exactly what you expected, to see in the list right? I doubt that many proclaimed Christians today, realized there is a actually cost for following Christ.
Why Going To Church Every Week Matters - HelloChristian

Somewhere along the way, we have become convinced in this country that Christianity is "easy". Just add holy water and wala – instant Christianity. All you have to do was go to Church once in awhile, say a few prayers, read your bible from time to time, and invite Jesus into your heart as your personal Savior, and you are good to go! You can go on living exactly the same way you did before, sin included, your can hang out at happy hour with your friends, pursue your own selfish goals and ambitions, you can make life the way you want it to be, and you can do it "your way", you can still "do you," still get to heaven, its all good. Oh, lest I not forget and if you need something, just rub the magic "Jesus lamp", He'll pop out, and come running to grant your every wish! Easy enough, right? Wrong! Nothing could be further from the truth!

If you want to follow Christ, it will only cost you... EVERYTHING!

This is not what Jesus intended! So what does it really mean to be a follower of Christ? Is there a difference between a believer and a disciple? And if, as is stated in our mission statement, our goal as a church is to "Make Disciples", then what should be happening in the lives of those who attend our Church? Are we really becoming "fully devoted followers of Christ"?

Beloved, there is a difference between those who follow Christ for fishes and loaves, and those who follow Christ with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. Jesus indicated this quite often in His teachings. Today, we'll look at what Jesus has about the cost of discipleship. Open with me please, your Bibles to Matthew chapter 8, as we'll be examining verses 18-22. Matthew 8:18-22. Allow me to read that to you know:

"When Jesus saw large crowds around Him, He gave the order to go to the other side of the sea. A scribe approached Him and said, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go!”
Jesus told him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” “Lord,” another of His disciples said, “first let me go bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead."

Let’s begin by looking more closely at verse 18:

"When Jesus saw large crowds around Him, He gave the order to go to the other side of the sea." Jesus has been ministering to the crowd near Capernaum. He had healed many diseases and driven out evil spirits. He had preached and taught the people, and so many of them followed Him that they were pressing against Him at the beach. Then Jesus gave His disciples an order: "We need to move to the other side of the sea."

Why would Jesus want to do this? Of course we know that He had come to seek and to save that which was lost, and that He had indicated often, that He must keep moving from town to town to preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God.

But the way Matthew has worded verse 18 indicates that the motive for Jesus crossing to the other side was more than just wanting to reach the people on the other side. Matthew writes: "When Jesus saw large crowds around Him, He gave the order to go to the other side of the sea."

Jesus saw something in the crowd that was not right. Perhaps it had grown too large, but we know that Jesus preached and fed more than 15,000 people at a time when he fed the 5,000 men and their families. I think it is more likely that He observed in the crowd a desire to follow Christ solely based upon His miracles, and not out of desire to change their heart. They were excited about what Jesus could do for them, but they did not have a heart to become 'like Jesus.'

Beloved, there is a vast difference between the crowd of believers we find in our country today, as there are more than 40 million "proclaim" to be born again Christians,  and those who are fully devoted disciples of Christ.

Here are a few of the differences that I have observed:

The crowd loved Jesus and sought Him for the help He could bring to their troubled lives. There was nothing wrong with that at first. Jesus loves people and He cares for their needs, illnesses and sorrows. He came as a healer and  He restored people to life. But the disciples had grown from following Jesus out of a hunger for His miracles to following Him out of a hunger for Him. They wanted more that just what Jesus was willing do for them. They wanted Jesus. It wasn’t the blessing, but the one giving the blessing that mattered most to them.
Jesus Teaches to Those Who Listen

The crowd enjoyed hearing the teachings of Jesus, but the disciples wanted to learn to think like Jesus and pray like Jesus and become like Jesus. They wanted to emulate the person of Jesus Christ.

The crowd wanted a Savior to rescue them from all of their problems. The disciples longed for a King to rule over their lives.

The crowd received what they needed from Jesus and then went on with their lives, but the disciples gave up everything to be with Jesus and to join Him in His Work.
The simplest definition of a disciple is ‘student, or one who learns’. But it really means much more than that. A disciple is someone who follows a Master. It is someone whose life is shaped by the teaching of the Master. It is someone who becomes like the Master in every way, adopting the values, attitudes, actions, and principles of the Master teacher. In short, a disciple is molded and shaped into the Master’s image.

Jesus calls us out of the crowd and into discipleship, but in order to become a disciple we must ‘do something’. We must cross over with Jesus to the other side. We must step out of he crowd and get into the boat with Jesus. We must commit ourselves to Him, to travel where He travels, to do what He does, and to live with Him as the center of our lives day after day after day.
Have you made a decision to do that? Are you in the boat with the Lord, or are you satisfied when Jesus occasionally shows up to take care of a problem you’ve been facing? Where are you with Jesus today?

To further understand this call to commitment, Matthew talks about two people who approach Jesus with a desire to become His disciple. One asks Jesus for permission to follow Him. The other is asked by Jesus to follow. But both struggle with this call to commitment and the cost of discipleship. Let’s look at each in our final two points.

To follow Jesus as a disciple means that I must sacrifice.
Look at Matthew's account of the scribe as given in Matthew 8:19-20.
"A scribe approached Him and said, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go!”"
Jesus told him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head."
We don’t know who this scribe is. We know nothing of his background, only that of all the other scribes and teachers that followed Jesus from time to time, this was one of the few who responded to Him.

Christ with a desire to become His disciple. Perhaps He had been a part of the crowd that had heard the Sermon on the Mount and had then seen Jesus do many miracles of healing in Capernaum. And now He wants to know more. He wants to become a disciple of Christ.
But Jesus doesn’t just welcome him with open arms. Instead, Jesus asks this scribe to count the cost. Following Jesus as a disciple comes at a cost. It involves sacrifice. No servant is above His Master. If Jesus was rejected and harassed and criticized and even killed, the followers of Christ should expect no better treatment.

Jesus had nothing. He gave up His home and His income. He had no furniture. He didn’t own a car. The only possessions He had in life were the clothes He wore and those would eventually be won in a gambling contest at the foot of the cross.
Jesus lived a life of service to others. He was pressed upon by crowds of people wanting help. He spent many sleepless nights in prayer. He depended upon God the Father for every physical need. Even the animals have a place to call their own, but Jesus had no home. His home was in heaven with His Father.

As followers of Christ, we too become sojourners, travelers and aliens living on a planet that is not our home. Our home is in heaven with God. We pass through this life and what we think we possess is really not ours. It belongs to the Lord, and we simply are stewards.
To be a disciple of Christ means you must be willing to sacrifice many of the pleasures of this world. You must be willing to suffer for the sake of Christ. You must be willing to die to self, and to live for others. You must daily take up your cross and follow Him.
Are you willing to pay the price?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who you may recall was the Christian who stood up to the Nazi’s and was killed in a concentration camp in 1945,  put it this way:
"The cross is laid on every Christian. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death–we give over our lives to death. 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."

We have changed in this country. We have given up the idea of sacrifice for Christ, and have replaced it with comfortable pews and easy services that don’t demand too much from us. But it has not always been that way:

Many churches years ago had mourner’s benches. Today, believers have come to believe, Christianity is more about personal satisfaction, that sacrifice, a delusional teaching of the modern church.

To be a disciple of Jesus means that I enter into training to become like my King. He will discipline me and train me through many trials and difficulties. All of this is done out of love, not to harm me, but to make me stronger – to make me ready for the Kingdom.
Are You Making Acceptable Sacrifices, Well-Pleasing to God ...

Our heavenly Father will take us through a regiment of discipline to become like Jesus. But are we really ready and willing to pay the price, no matter the cost? Are we willing to sacrifice everything in order to follow Jesus? Are we willing to get in the boat, even though there may be storms brewing out on the sea?

The final illustration comes from one of the disciples that Jesus challenged to cross over. Some speculate that this disciple was Thomas, or perhaps Philip. Would they be willing to pay the price and follow Jesus, no matter what the cost? In the parallel Gospel in Luke 9 we see that Jesus first approached this disciple and asked him to follow. But the disciple had an excuse.

When Jesus calls, we must not hesitate.
No let's look at Matthew 8:21-22.

"Lord," another of His disciples said, "first let me go bury my father." But Jesus told him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead."

At first glance this appears to be very cruel on the part of Jesus, but we must keep in mind, that in Eastern cultures, the dead were buried within the first 24 hours. So, what is most likely happening here is not that this man’s father had died. Certainly Jesus could have waited a few hours or a day.
However, the phrase used by this man was a common near Eastern figure of speech that referred to a son’s responsibility to help his father in the family business until the father died and the inheritance was distributed. Obviously such a commitment could involve a long period of time, thirty or forty years or more if the father was relatively young.

The expression is used in parts of the Middle East, even today. A few years ago, I read the story a of missionary who had asked a rich young Turkish man to go with him on a trip to Europe, during which time the missionary hoped to disciple this young man. When the young man replied that he must bury his father, the missionary offered his sympathy and expressed surprise that the father had died. The man explained, however, that his father was alive and healthy and that the expression implied in the phrase, "bury my father" simply meant staying at home and fulfilling his family responsibilities until his father has died and he received his share of the inheritance.

So, this young man in the story wanted to be sure to be around for the reading of the will. He was essentially saying, "I trust you Jesus, but I want to hedge my bets with my inheritance." For those of you have never heard the term, "hedge my bets," it means to play it safe, taking no risks.

The response given by Jesus indicates that when He calls us to follow, He expects us to obey without delay. The word: “follow me” is in the present imperative. Jesus is literally saying: "Today, this hour, right now, I want you to follow me and become my disciple."
The call of Jesus comes before any call of this world. Our obedience to Him must take priority over our obedience to any other obligation or duty we may feel we have. Jesus does not want us to neglect our families, but our families are never to pull us away from following the Lord. When there is a conflict, Jesus must always come first! So much so that at another point in time Jesus indicated that our love for our families must look like hatred in comparison to our love for our Lord.
Are you putting Jesus first? Are you paying the price to follow Him, or are you looking for any and all kinds of excuses to avoid obeying Him? Even if those excuses appear to be noble and full of good intentions, if they are keeping us from following Christ –then they are wrong! The cost of being disciples of Christ, the heart of a true disciple is, regardless of the cost and whether or not anyone else was doing it. Sometimes this commitment to follow can come at a great cost. Are you willing to sacrifice all? Or only what you're comfortable with?

Consider the contrast the attitude of the twelve, who walked away from everything and followed Christ, no matter where He was to go with the attitude of the disciple who wanted to stick around home until his father had passed and he had received his inheritance. Which one was worthy to be called a disciple of the Lord? Will you follow Jesus? Will you count the cost, step out of the crowd and step into the boat with Him? Knowing there's a storm coming?

We somehow have come to believe that giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $l0.00 bill and laying it on the table, or in the collection plate, and saying "Ok, Lord, here’s my life, Lord. I’m giving it all."

But the reality for most of us is that Jesus sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $l0.00 for quarters. We go through life putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there. We listen to the neighbor kid’s troubles instead of saying, "Sorry, I can't help." We go to a discipleship study meeting instead of that concert, we'd already purchased tickets for. We give a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home instead of the club, to hang out with our friends.

Usually giving our life to Christ isn’t glorious. It’s done in all those little acts of love, 25 cents at a time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it’s much more difficult  to live the Christian life little by little,  over the long haul."

Are you willing to begin today? 

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

Copyright © 2019-2020 All Rights Reserved

The Brian Monzon Ministries



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