Posts Tagged ‘Cost’

How Much You Got 9-8-19

In this sermon, based on Luke 14:25-33, I explore a troublesome teaching from Jesus about the cost of discipleship. He asks for all that we have, implying that even that isn’t enough…and yet…there’s some good news in this difficult passage.

You can listen along to the audio of the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/how-much-you-got-9-8-19

You can also follow along with the text here:

May the grace and peace of our Triune God be yours, today and forever. Amen

There is a character from a series of movies that, in my opinion, fits the bill for the quintessential title of dad who JUST wants to do the best he can for his family…and give them a great experience. And that character is Clark W Griswold Jr…played by Chevy Chase in about 4 or 5 different National Lampoons Vacation movies made through the 80’s and 90’s.

Now this guy, bless his heart…he tries hard…but in movie after movie…situation after situation…things never seem to go quite right…and that trend is established pretty quickly in the very first Vacation…in the midst of a cross country road trip…somewhere out in the middle of a desert…he misses a detour sign and promptly ramps his car right off the dead end of a construction site, messing up the car and blowing all four tires.

Following a few more hijinks…they finally get the car hauled off to a shop in a tiny isolated town…and when Clark goes to pay the bill…the shady shop owner asks him “How much you got?” (pause) They never actually say exactly how much the guy fleeces him for….but something tells me it costs him every dollar in his wallet…everything he has to give. (pause)

Now today’s gospel story doesn’t have any shady mechanics shaking someone down for cash…but in one similarity with the movie…Jesus is back on the road again.  We know he’s been slowly making his way towards Jerusalem…and at this point, we’re only about halfway through the whole travel narrative…and we continue to see Jesus moving around…sometimes hanging out in a community for a while…sometimes out in the wilderness…sometimes on the road.

And that’s where we find him today…on the move…and as per usual, he’s got a following.  I often wonder just what these scenes would have looked like…as the large crowds are following him around…listening to him teach…hoping for a healing…wondering what he’s going to do next. It stands to reason that the individuals in these crowds came from a wide variety of backgrounds…each with different expectations of what they think the Messiah is up to…

But in the simple act of following along… there’s an expectation being implied…to follow a teacher…or a rabbi…or a messiah, whatever term we want to use for Jesus…the person who takes this action also has a name…a disciple…and to be following along means that they are engaging in discipleship.

Now discipleship’s not easy…it might seem easy at face value…but there’s way more to it than just walking down the road behind someone.  To be a disciple means you carry an openness to what they can teach you…and with that comes the expectation of change…and change isn’t always easy is it? Because the things that need to change aren’t always something that we want to let go of.

In short…the idea of discipleship seems to indicate cost…it will cost us something…but if that’s true…and I think it is…then the next logical question is…what’s it gonna cost me?

And that’s the topic that Jesus is talking about today. Now admittedly…Jesus’ statements make me kind of uncomfortable today…maybe you as well…because he’s not really painting an overly pretty picture is he? (pause)

Anyone who do does not hate father or mother…spouse and children…siblings…even your very life…cannot be my disciple. (pause) What? You mean we have to be willing to sacrifice our family?  The people that love and care about us…that support us? That connect us into our communities and into our culture…and Jesus seems to say…yes. (pause)

Anyone who does not carry the cross and follow me…cannot be my disciple. (pause) What? You mean we might risk civil disobedience? We might have to stand up to the government, risking our freedom…maybe even death…and Jesus seems to say…yes. (pause)

Anyone who does not give up all your possession…cannot be my disciple. (Pause) What, we have to be willing to give up everything we have?  You don’t mean everything do you Jesus? Everything?  And Jesus seems to say…yes. (Pause)

I don’t know…this is pretty heavy Jesus…I’m not quite sure I really understand what you’re saying here…but HEY!!!! He tells a couple brief parables right? I bet those will shed some more light on just what he’s REALLY trying to teach us.

A man plans to build himself a tower…but before he does so he sits down to calculate the cost…making sure he has enough resources…enough to spare…enough to give or trade so that this project will come to completion and fulfillment…because on the flip side…holy cow…if he lays his foundation and then runs out of resources…well then there’s physical evidence of this guy’s inability to do it on his own…and everyone will mock him….hmmmm.

Well maybe the second one…what king…as he plans to go out and meet another king in battle…will he not first sit to determine if its possible with his 10,000 fighters to defeat the other guy…who’s marching up with 20,000?  Well that makes sense right? 2-1 odds?  Pretty sure this first king is gonna end up dead, or in the very least disgraced if he tries that…better to do the alternative…and send out a delegation to ask for peace right?  (pause) Or is it? Because in that scenario…king number 1 is at the mercy of king number 2…and whatever deal they strike to keep #2 from laying waste anyway is probably gonna cost #1 pretty dearly…so maybe neither alternative is really all the great. (pause)

And so…with these two illustrations, we consider Jesus’ teaching…his rather blunt statements about the cost of discipleship and it leads to the obvious conclusion of (Long pause)  WHAT?

It kinda seems that Jesus is telling us that discipleship does come with cost…and in all likelihood…it might be more than we are willing to give…because discipleship…following Jesus might just cost us absolutely EVERYTHING we have…and even that might not be enough…and if his parables are to be believed…it almost seems like Jesus is saying “if you aren’t willing to give what its gonna take…you might as well just stay home and not…even…try.” (pause)

I don’t know about you but that strikes me as a pretty tough pill to swallow.  Isn’t Jesus the one who tells us “come follow me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light?” Isn’t he the one who teaches us over and over again that all are truly welcome and included…even the ones who have pushed so far to the margins that we forget about them?  Isn’t he the one who calls all who are weary and he will give us rest?

Yes…all of those things are true…but in this difficult teaching from Jesus it seems like discipleship is asking more of us than any of us are willing to give…and maybe even more than any of us are even CAPABLE of giving. And if that’s the case…then what do we do with it?  It is a lost cause?  Are we a lost cause?  Should we just throw up our hands and go home and figure “Well we gave a shot, I guess that wasn’t enough?” (pause)

Here’s the thing…when we zero in on single aspects of scripture…single teachings…single verses or ideas or concepts…when we do this…all too often to try and prove point to someone we disagree with…we miss the bigger picture…context matters…overarching teaching matters…and the larger message of Christ matters.

And so…in order to try and make some sense of this oddball teaching from Jesus that sounds like “all is lost.” I looked ahead to the next chapter…anyone know what happens in Luke 15? (Pause) Jesus tells some more parables…about a shepherd with 100 sheep who leaves 99 to go find 1 that’s lost…and then a woman with 10 coins who searches diligently all over her house until she locates the one that went missing…and then a father with 2 sons, both of which go wayward in one way or another…and that Father looks longingly…for them…until they are brought back in. (pause)

The gospel teaches us that we have a God who made ALL of this…and even though we’ve done a REALLY good job of screwing it up in just about every way imaginable…this same God does not see us as a lost cause…and this is why Jesus was here in the first place.

Whatever it was that God was accomplishing in the life and the death and the resurrection of Jesus…it seems that God was paying that cost that is too great for any of us to manage on our own…that somehow…God was offering a way to overcome that brokenness and division that exists in our reality…peace in the face of that which has divided us from one another and even from God. (pause) That’s what those three parables coming up in the next chapter reveal to us…that we have a God who will defy all logic and sense and do what we are incapable of doing on our own…of finding us when we are lost.
That’s what caught me…and knowing that, I circled back around to today’s difficult teaching to find the good news in a passage that seems devoid of it.

When the king realizes that he can’t do it…a delegation for peace is sent…but the gospel tells us that the one who actually sends the delegation is not the weaker king, its the stronger king. (pause)  Jesus was sent into the world to bring about peace on our behalf…knowing that we are unable to achieve it. (pause)
And now here’s the take away…especially today as we kick off another program year…what is it that we are doing here at church if not engaging in opportunities for discipleship? It takes on many forms, but its here…this chance to gather with one another and learn from the one who calls us, and asks for our entire selves.

Its not just a call to bring our kids and drop them at the front door…or to sit and listen to me jabber for 15 minutes once in a while, or to drop a couple bucks in the offering plate on occasion.  This call into discipleship asks for everything…and it might cost everything…we don’t know how all that’s gonna shake out.

And so what do we do with that? Are we gonna be lukewarm about it? Because if that’s the case Jesus seems to be saying you might as well stay home. And that’s blunt…but sometimes we need to hear a blunt word to remind us that the creator of the entire universe looked at everything…and decided the universe needed one of you.  And not only that…but that same creator of everything has offered you the life changing news that you have been claimed as a beloved child, not through anything that you have done…you have not earned it…but it has been given to you freely…So let that truth permeate everything aspect of your being…and together let’s be willing to give all of ourselves…and see where God is going to lead us. Amen.

So What Does The Cross Really Mean 9-4-16

In this sermon, based on Luke 14:25-33, I explore some rather harsh statements from Jesus regarding the cost of discipleship. Different audiences can and likely do hear his words differently.

You can listen to the audio of the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/so-what-does-the-cross-mean-9-4-16

You can also follow along with the text of the sermon here:

Grace and peace to you in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

If there is a single type of movie that society would consider to be the “most popular” right now…my vote would be the comic book movie. They are everywhere…you can barely turn on the tv anymore without seeing a commercial for someone flying around in a cape.

Now I’m not complaining about this in the least possible way…because I love them…and I’m a big fan about how each of the major organizations that are making these movies are working to create a shared universe…namely, that all of the different movies and characters and stories that fall under their particular brand occur within the same universe.

Now if you’re familiar with the universe, if you’ve seen the different movies…then you can typically pick up on the different little details…but on the flip side…if you aren’t familiar, then it can get really confusing.  (pause) This was on full display at my house the other night. My son Jack and I had been channel surfing and we happened to find Iron Man 3…and so we were sitting there watching it.  If you’re unfamiliar, Iron Man falls under the Marvel brand, alongside other names like Captain America, or the Hulk, and Thor…and one that I’m guessing you’ve at least heard of before…the Avengers.

There are all kinds of movies mixed in with tv shows…in short…there’s A LOT in the Marvel universe…and Iron Man 3, the particular movie we were watching, came out about 3 years ago…so there’s been a lot more story that’s developed in the mean time.

That being said, Jack and I were watching…making comments about things in this movie that set up stuff that came later on…comments about characters and settings…all kinds of stuff…and my wife…well…she was completely lost…to her credit…she was asking questions…trying to understand…but we might as well have been speaking another language…and I think that all she was really getting out the movie was a bunch of flashy explosions. (pause)

This whole deal points towards an important point.  Audience is important…different audiences will understand things differently…they’ll interpret things differently…and this is true whether we are speaking about individuals, as well as when we get a little more generic and talk about groups…in short…our experience changes how we understand something…and this is important because today’s gospel lesson puts this truth on display. (pause)

I’ve often talked before about the differences in how people in Jesus’ time would understand a particular situation…and how that can often be different from the way we do…and it’s the result of many different things…but mainly boiling down to the differences in context…and to offer even a tiny glimpse at this…within today’s story Jesus talks about a king going out to war. At that time, the notion of 10,000 men fighting 20,000 hand to hand made perfect sense…but they would have zero notion of what to make of airstrikes or nuclear submarines, something that we take almost for granted. (pause) Context determines understanding for different audiences.

And today’s story…perhaps more than any other that I’ve really come across highlights this…typically when this comes up there are two possible audiences…but today, there are 3…Those of us hearing it today, bringing with us all of our experiences and ideas…then there would have been Luke’s audience…individuals living approximately 75 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus…individuals who would be 2 or 3 generations down the line from the events described in the story….and then there would have been the audience of Jesus…standing there in the crowds actually listening to him that day…and I’m guessing that all three audiences…21st century upper Midwest Lutherans…early 2nd century believers…and early 1st Century Jews…all three probably pick up things a little differently. (pause)

Now this particular passage is often referred to as the cost of discipleship…sparked off when large crowds are following Jesus…likely for a very wide variety of reasons…and Jesus lays out some truth for them to make sure they actually understand what it means to be his disciple…now Jesus lays this out in the first portion of the reading…with these shocking words about hating parents, spouses, children, siblings…even our very lives…and then picking up our cross to follow him…the rest of the reading about building the tower and the king going to war are just illustrations intended to highlight this notion. (pause)
But for everyone who hears these words…I’m guessing something specific…and likely different…jumps out. Now admittedly, this is a hard passage…to hear Jesus, the one we are so used to hearing talk about love and acceptance…say that we are supposed to hate our family…that’s a hard pill for us to swallow…because we are so used to the big picture…we’re used to hearing those other teachings from Jesus…and because of that…this comes across really harsh.

But let’s back it up…what about the audience of Jesus that day? Most of them would have been Jewish…and I’m guessing that this was even more shocking…hate your parents? Well that breaks one of the commandments…hate your family? By no means!!! These individuals was culturally engrained to think about their family, their heritage…it was central to them.

But then what about Luke’s audience…those 2nd century believers who had very likely experienced this sort of thing first hand…Remember just how divisive the gospel was at THAT time…these would have been individuals that were cast out of community…out of their synagogues…they would have been disowned by family members that could NOT tolerate this new belief…and so for those people…hearing these words of Jesus, while painful, would have served as more of a reminder of the life they were living…the choices that they had made to follow Christ. (pause)
And there’s another statement that Jesus makes that really falls under this whole situation as well…Anyone who does not carry the cross ad follow me cannot be my disciple. (pause)

Now how do we hear that? I fear that the first thought that enters our head is the very common statement “that’s my cross to bear” which if you’re family is typically used to describe some uncomfortable situation…but we think of it as our personal cost…the thing that we have to endure simply because we are believers in Christ…but perhaps at the same time…our Lutheran theology always makes us think about the cross as a symbol of hope…and the notion of what God accomplished through the death of Jesus on the Cross and his subsequent resurrection…2000 years of history and interpretation lead us to that…that’s what we think of.
But let’s back up…and what would the other audiences hear? For Luke’s audience…those 2nd century Christians…those people who lived under the threat of being martyred…those individuals who had likely watched friends or family be tortured and killed, perhaps even crucified…because of their faith?  Well that’s going to mean something dramatically different than it does for us won’t it? (pause) And finally, what about Jesus’ audience that day…those people in the crowds who hear “carry the cross.” What would they think?

Because keep in mind…at that point…the Cross as we think of it…it hadn’t happened yet…The crucifixion of Jesus…hadn’t happened yet…His death and resurrection was not yet a reality…and so for those people there THAT day…all they could possibly think of is who they’ve seen carrying a cross.

And that…is the one who has been condemned…remember that crucifixion in general was VERY common…it was the Roman’s favorite form of public execution…intended to send a message…and the worst part of it…when you were condemned to die by crucifixion, you had to carry your own cross. How horrible is that? (pause) And so, for Jesus’ audience…they would hear “those who do not willingly recognize that they are condemned cannot be my disciple.” (pause)

Let me say that one more time…those who do not recognize that they are condemned cannot be my disciple. (pause) Think about that for a moment…Harsh? Utterly devoid of hope or promise?  Shocking…you better believe it.

But that…that right there…that is precisely how we need to hear these words today…Now there are times when we look for the gospel in the midst of Jesus’ words…and there are times when we look towards the greater overarching story…but then again…sometimes the Holy Spirit smacks us directly with his…exact…words. To be a disciple of Christ is to see ourselves as the one who is already condemned. (pause)
Now I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently…likely because of the fact that our congregation has experienced 2 deaths…2 funerals in the past 2 weeks…and one of the themes that emerge in and around funerals is the truth of death within our reality…and additionally that death is the result of sin.

This is the reality for each and every one of us…each of us experiences 1 death…it is inevitable and it is the result of the presence of sin within our individuals lives…the apostle Paul reminds us that the wages of sin is death…and there are no exception…we are each subject to it…you might say that we are each condemned. (pause)

That’s the reality that Jesus’ audience would have heard that day…that to be his follower is to recognize that you are condemned…and there was no joy to be found in the cross yet…and so that raises the question of what does it mean to be people of the cross in the here and now…while we are in the midst of this life…and that’s a great question…perhaps one that we cannot truly answer…because that is not our reality.

We live in a reality where the cross…the crucifixion…the death AND the resurrection of Jesus HAS already happened…and we are shaped by the history that has occurred…and we cling to the hope that the cross represents for us…and we call things what they are. YES…we are condemned by the presence of sin in our lives…but through the cross…through the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the power of sin and death has been overcome…and so when Jesus reminds us to carry our cross as his disciples, we are simply acknowledging that alone, I am as good as dead…but thanks be to God that God didn’t leave it there.  (pause)

So what does the cross really mean? Well…it means something different to everyone…but the hope that we cling to…the hope and the faith that we express each and every week here in worship…is that through the cross…through the death of Jesus followed by his resurrection, our lives today are lived in the promise of life everlasting…and we live in that freedom right here, right now. (pause)

Now that being said, this does not mean that our lives as disciples of Christ are going to be easy…often times far from it…and that’s where the rest of Jesus’ words today are still important for us to hear…there is cost to discipleship…and its different for every single individual…for some it might be the loss of family connections…it might even be the loss of our very lives…and yes there are parts of the world, even today, where this is still a very real thing.

Our faith in Christ is both unbelievable easy…because we don’t have to do anything to get it…but at the same time it comes with extraordinary cost…because through it, your life will never be the same…so keep that in mind as you follow where Christ leads. Amen.

Counting the Cost

In this sermon, I explore the difficult teaching of Jesus regarding the cost of discipleship. Salvation from sin is free by the grace of God…but discipleship of Jesus does cost you something. 

Hear the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/counting-the-cost-9-8-13

And here is the text file of the sermon. As usual, disregard the odd punctuation and indications to pause. I gotta remember them somehow.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…Amen
Guilty pleasures. We all have them don’t we.  Be honest, you know you do. Most of the time, I think they are pretty innocent, but a guilty pleasure is something that can really rope you in. One of mine, and yes I do have several…is puzzles. Another is ice cream, but that’s neither here nor there.
I love puzzles, and not any one kind…but a lot of different kinds. And there are a ton of different types of puzzles aren’t there? Think about it. There are table top puzzles ranging from innocent little 10 piecers for small children up to 5 or 10,000 piece monstrosities that can take weeks or months to complete.  There are number puzzles like soduko. Mental puzzles like crosswords. Many different video games involve puzzles…some simple and as any gamer can tell you, some huge intricate and almost most impossible.
While I do some of these more than others, I do love a good puzzle and the challenge that comes along with it. Most recently I’ve gotten hooked on a specific puzzle game. It’s an app available for free on smart phones and you can play it through Facebook as well. Perhaps you’ve heard of it, or like me, have gotten utterly and completely addicted to it.  Candy Crush. (pause)  Anyone else out there want to fess up?  You know you love it.
Like any good puzzle, it’s rewarding…and its also wildly irritating. The first few levels are easy. They always are. That’s how they hook you.  But then as time goes on, the levels get more and more difficult. Candy Crush isn’t the only game of this nature. There are countless titles with the same sort of premise. Angry Birds is another popular example.
If you’ve ever played this sort of game you know how it works. You’re given a puzzle and by swapping different candy pieces around, you gradually work through the puzzle to beat the level. But as the levels get harder…and trust me…they get harder…there are times when it feels like you will never beat it. You try over and over again…sometimes getting it down to a single piece left to clear and then you run out of moves…or your run out of lives and you have to ask for help. Candy Crush is a social game after all…but as you make attempt after attempt…and achieve nothing but failure after failure…you feel like your head is going to explode and you cry out in anguish. “TRY AS I MIGHT…I AM NEVER GOING TO BEAT THIS LEVEL!!!!”
But then…every once in a while…the pieces all fall together…given enough time…given enough effort…it all comes together and you emerge…triumphant…at least until you try the next level.
In a lot of ways, that’s a good life lesson isn’t it? Keep trying. Don’t lose hope. Persevere. Eventually, everything comes together. YOU CAN DO IT!
But does that attitude…that never say die…keep on pushing through attitude really apply to everything?  (pause)
That’s the question that’s been rattling around in my head this week as I’ve pondered on today’s scripture lesson…it’s a bit of a doosy this week isn’t it? Jesus…our Savior and Lord…God himself in human form…seems to be a bit of buzzkill this week doesn’t he?
Here’s the scene. Jesus is traveling around the countryside. He’s been gradually making his way towards Jerusalem for a while now. Luke’s gospel makes a pretty big deal in about chapter 9 when Jesus turns his face towards Jerusalem…and we all know what’s going to happen in Jerusalem don’t we? We know where this story is headed…the eventual betrayal at the hands of his own disciple…his arrest…his trial…his crucifixion. (pause)
In today’s story…we’re about half way there. We’re getting there…but Jesus still has about 6 more chapters to walk through before he makes it to the city…but as we see at the beginning today…he’s already making waves.  Like any good public figure…he’s developed a following…and we see that large crowds are following him around.
Perhaps it comes as no great shock. Look at some of the stuff that he’s pulled off so far…countless healings of the sick and lame…the feeding of the 5000….he’s cast out demons…he’s even managed to bring a couple of people back from the dead.  No wonder he’s got giant crowds traipsing along behind him. Wouldn’t you be interested to see what this guy…this Jesus guy…is gonna do next?
That seems to be the case with this giant crowd…this mixed bag of people. Who knows what different types of people were there but we can assume that it involved all different sorts. Poor, rich…Jews, Gentiles…religious leaders, roman officials…at different times in Luke’s Gospel we hear about all of these people and other’s as well.  Certainly, Jesus attracted all kinds of people to follow him wherever he went.
But today…Jesus seems like he wants to thin the crowds out a little bit…and he makes some pretty shocking statements…three of them that seem to cover different situations…but all three with the same apparent result.
Whoever comes to me and does not hate their families…cannot be my disciple. (Pause)  Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me…cannot be my disciple. (pause) Whoever does not give up all your possessions…cannot be my disciple. (pause)
Can you imagine? Jesus himself…this pillar of love and acceptance…this man who welcomes sinners and cripples…this man who teaches about the love of God for all humanity…this amazing man that everyone wants a piece of…denying people…how can that be? (pause) Its shocking isn’t it? Jesus denying people.
Or is he? (pause)
Is Jesus denying anyone from following him?  Or is he simply issuing a realistic warning?  A warning about the TRUE cost…of discipleship? The TRUE cost…of being a believer…the TRUE cost of following Christ. (pause)
Perhaps you hear me say the word cost…and it makes you a little uncomfortable.  Cost? I thought that Christianity was free…I thought that our salvation from sin and death is a free gift…only by the grace of God…so what’s this cost that you’re talking about?
Well, that’s a good question…because on one hand you’d be right to pose it. It is true that we are saved from our sinful nature…rescued from the power of sin and death only by the grace of God. It is a free gift…offered freely to each and every one of us through Jesus death on the cross.
But discipleship still comes with a cost. Anyone how does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, even life itself…cannot be my disciple.  (pause) Has Jesus ever come between you and someone you care about? Think about it…think back over your life as a believer…has someone ever opposed you…or have you butted heads with someone…disagreed over your behavior or your attitude or your opinion because it has been shaped by Christ?
Believe me, it happens…and sometimes those we care about most in the world…hinder us to following Christ…but he asks us to put them aside. Can we really do that or will we deny him? (pause)
Discipleship comes with a cost.  Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me…cannot be my disciple. (pause) In Jesus day, crucifixion was common…painfully common…and the sight of some condemned criminal, carrying their own cross to the place of their execution happened all the time…but times have changed right? We don’t see that sort of thing…so what does this mean for us today?
Well, crucifixion was a civil punishment…handed out by the government…So is Jesus telling us that we can expect legal troubles simply for being a believer? Maybe so…perhaps this is a difficult thing to understand today. After all, we live in a country where we can express religious freedom…and following Christ isn’t illegal…but unfortunately that’s not the case everywhere…and in countless places around the globe believers are arrested, imprisoned, and still today, killed for their beliefs…are we ready to do that…to endure that? Or will we deny him? (pause)
If you do not give up your possessions…everything that you have…even your very life…you cannot be my disciple. (pause) This one is pretty obvious…Jesus is asking us to give up everything…EVERYTHING. Our material possessions…our homes…our health…our families…our lives…everything becomes secondary to following Christ. Can we do that? Are we willing to sacrifice absolutely everything to follow this man?  Or will we deny him? (pause)
I have found myself wondering this week, how the people in the crowd…that mixed batch of people from every walk of life…responded when they heard this.  Had they counted the cost…the true cost of discipleship?  Or were they just following him around, hoping to be receive some miracle?
It kinda makes you wonder how many people left…and how if there were any crowds left by the time they made it to Jerusalem, Jesus’ final destination…and actually, we can answer that question…A careful look at the original language in the story of the Triumphal Entry shows us that only a select handful of people…those that were familiar with Jesus, were still with him. This is very likely limited to the 12 disciples and a few select others that remained by his side.
And so now we ask ourselves…have we counted the cost…are we willing to sacrifice everything for Christ? Are we really willing to do that? Family…liberty…possessions…Everything? I don’t know about you…but that seems pretty daunting…in fact…as I sit here thinking about it…it seems downright impossible…impossible to deny all of that…all the time…for Christ.
And when we think about that, perhaps it comes as no great shock that the crowds abandoned him. Perhaps its no great shock that the multitudes were pared down a select few…the disciples and a couple extra people. (pause)
But it doesn’t stop there…because the disciples…his closest friends…individuals that Jesus considered closer than his own mother and brothers…they left him too…But what if we go even farther than that…what if we take it down to the leader…what about Peter…you remember him…the chief disciple…when we read between the lines we know he was really the head guy of Jesus’ crew right?  Think about Jesus’ own words. You will be called Peter, and on this rock I will build my church. 
Peter…the first pope for crying out loud…at least he made the hard choice right? Of course…Peter even said it. “Lord I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” (pause) Peter expresses faith…at least he thinks he does…but how does Jesus respond? (pause) “Peter, the rooster will not crow this day until you have denied me three times”
And we all know that its true…Peter denies Christ three times…3 times he turns his back on Christ…Peter himself…the greatest of the disciples…even he can’t do it.
So what are we supposed to do? Is there anything we can do? Can we truly pay the cost of being a disciple of Christ? Can we work out that puzzle…if we try hard enough…give it enough effort…if we’re just patient enough, will all the pieces fall into place?
Well, no. It would seem that its impossible for us…and you know what…it is. Even Jesus says so…when we cry out Lord this is impossible? Who can be saved? Jesus replies “What is impossible for mortals…is possible…for God.”
But rest assured…when God does the impossible in your life…you will be changed…the old you will be no more…and with that new reality…a reality freed from the powers of sin and death comes difficulties…and sometimes those difficult times mean sacrifice on our part…and sacrifice is never easy. I won’t give you false hope that it is.
So know this…if you’re gonna be a disciple of Christ then you better want it…and you’ve got to want it bad…because while salvation is free, it does come with a cost…
And I can’t stand up here today and tell you what that cost is going to be…because God leads us all down a different path…and God asks different things of all of us…and we all face different opposition but I will tell you this…its gonna happen. Ready or not…following Christ will cost you…but rest assured that one day…one glorious day…Jesus will be standing before you…and he will look you in the eye…wrap you in his arms that were once stretched out over a cross for you…and he will say to you… today, you will be with me in paradise. Amen