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Sermon Outline July 2, 2017

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1308

July 2, 2017 Luke 14:25-33

Dr. Ed Pettus

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)


“The Cost of Discipleship”



  • Do You Love Me More Than These?


Luke 14 25Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26“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.


These two verses, Luke 14:25-26, have troubled people for generations because of its apparent harsh language about family and the relationship to family in discipleship. What does Jesus mean that anyone who does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, even his own life cannot be His disciple? We have to consider that the term “hate” in this context is not what we normally think of as hate today. It is not that Jesus is telling us to hate our families as we might hate someone who harms us, but that we are to love Jesus more. It is mostly about our commitment to Jesus over and above all other commitments. One thing we might discover in this teaching is that putting our love for Jesus above all other loves will enable us to love father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters more than we are capable otherwise. On our own, we could never love our families as much as we can with God’s love first in our hearts.

Giving our lives to Christ, loving God with all we are redefines how we are then able to more fully love one another, more fully love and honor our parents, more deeply love our spouse, children, family and friends, even redefine how we can possibly love our enemies. If we do not have a heart for Christ alone, all other relationships will suffer. Jesus calls us to place no other loyalty above our loyalty to God and when we do, Jesus fills all our relationships with greater love than we could ever know. Our love for Jesus reshapes every single love relationship we have and all of them are refashioned by God’s love.


I think the best way to interpret this passage is to pair it with John 21 when Jesus asks Peter if he loves Jesus more than these.


15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”


I have heard testimonies of Jews who have come to believe in Jesus and they find that their families will disown them. They have a choice, to renounce their faith in Jesus and return to their families or to demonstrate their love for Jesus over their need to be loved by family. It is costly. It is painful. We do not all find ourselves in this type of situation, since most of us come from families that have loved Jesus for generations. But as we grow closer to Jesus and more and more willing to abide in his word, we may also find ourselves opposed by some family, some friends, and a growing portion of society.


What Jesus requires of us is total commitment. It has great costs, mostly to Jesus who suffered and died for us, but also costs to us. The deepest cost is our very lives. Jesus said we are to love him more than even our own life. This is a disturbing and strong message to the world. It also tempts us to water down the gospel to make it more acceptable to people, to be more attractive. But as soon as we do that we destroy what Jesus has said. We make the gospel a false gospel. Jesus requires more of us than that. And He requires more of all who are called – to love Him more than all others.


  • Requirements to Follow


27And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.


Jesus first calls us to love Him above all others. Now he adds that we must carry our cross. The cross is a symbol of death. It was the instrument of Jesus’ death that in turn gave life to all who believe. It has thus become a symbol of both death and life. Today we have Islamic terrorists who also use instruments of death, but instead of dying to self that others might live, they take the lives of others in the hope that they will receive a reward. Their religious zeal is the opposite of Christianity. Christ calls us to love by following Him alone, and carrying a cross reminds us that we sacrifice ourselves not others. We give of ourselves for those who do not yet know Christ in the hope that they will come to faith in Him.

Carry your cross. The cross symbolizes God’s love, sacrifice, self-giving, forgiveness, redemption, hope, cleansing, and so forth…we could take an hour to make a list! Taking up the cross daily means living the Christian life daily. There is no place for Sunday only or worse yet, Easter and Christmas only. Taking up the cross is about living the Christian life every day. We take up the cross to show others the truth that can set them free. We take up the cross as a witness and as a discipline of discipleship.


Paul says: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:19-20). What does Paul mean when he speaks of being crucified with Christ? To the Romans he wrote about the old self being destroyed… “If we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed and we might no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:5-6). For Paul this is a spiritual matter. The old self is characterized as living by the flesh. That old way of thinking and that old way of living is destroyed when we begin to live by the Spirit.


There is a way to righteous living, spiritual living, that is shown to us first in the cross of Christ. Jesus was “obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8). Jesus shows us through his life and death and resurrection what it means to live in obedience to the Father. This is the Father who loves us so much, that he sent Jesus to die on the cross for us.


Everyday we are called to deny ourselves and take up our cross to follow Jesus. This is a disciplined life, a prayerful life, a repentant life, and believe it or not, a joyous life!




  • Consider the Cost


28“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? 29For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31“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? 32If 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.


I feel like life is sometimes one series after another of cost counting. Is this purchase worth the cost? Is that investment worth the cost? We sometimes sit down and think about the cost of a house renovation project, for example, and the story is always the same, it cost more than we thought it would and it took longer than expected!

Jesus asks us to consider the cost of discipleship. When we first begin, we know very little of what the cost might be. As we grow in Christ we learn more. It is a constant learning experience and the cost continues throughout our lives. I remember the story of a woman who called a church to find out about a discipleship study the church was providing that had been advertised on television. She asked the secretary what the cost was for the study. “There is no charge.” “But it has to cost you something to provide the workbook and the time.” “Yes ma’am, but there is no charge to participate.” The woman inquiring kept insisting that it should cost her something and finally the secretary said, “Ma’am, the study has no monetary cost, but if you come and participate, it will cost you your entire life.” Now, that’s a church secretary!

The cost is our lives. That is what we consider. What will it cost us? Everyday we are learning what that means. It does not mean we blow ourselves up taking innocent lives with us, but it costs us everything in the sense of giving up ourselves to serve God with all we have received from God. The more we grow in love with Jesus, the less the cost is for us because loving Jesus, taking up the cross and following becomes everything that matters.



  • The Cost of Discipleship



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


It was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”1 When we talk about the cost of discipleship, we must think in terms of death. It is the death of our old nature. The death of self. Death to sin. Death to the worldly passions. Death to our attachments. Death to addictions. Death to ___________. These are the costs we endure, death to self and sin. Nothing else matters – buildings, programs, accomplishments, finances, numbers, everything is considered loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Jesus. That’s how Paul phrased it in Philippians 3,


7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

The cost is great from one point of view. But the surpassing value of knowing Jesus puts all the cost in a completely different perspective. In other words, faithful discipleship permeates every bit of our lives to the point that all our losses are garbage compared to the value of knowing and loving Jesus.

The cost is everything. It sounds right and we like to talk about what Jesus says here, but we really do not consider that cost because we really don’t realize the cost until we get into it! We love Jesus the most. We carry our cross. We consider the cost. We forsake everything for the sake of following the Savior. The cost is high, but worth it all. If any of us here today have not yet given over everything, do it today, for Jesus is calling and bidding us all to come, die on that cross that we might live to God. Amen.




1Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship, p. 99.