Luke 14:33 So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
Sometimes in reading the accounts of Jesus calling of the apostles, we look at the words of those texts, "and they left all, and followed him;" as though they were figurative, and not literal. Because, if you have to leave everything, who is ready to pay the price? Who is willing to pay the price? that is also the point that the story of the rich young ruler, when Jesus called on him to sell his possessions, and follow him, the young man went away sad, for he had great wealth. And so it is that this text builds on all those other texts, once again reminding us of the cost of discipleship. It is necessary to renounce all, all you goods, all your wealth, all your power, and even your family Ė to follow Jesus and to truly be a disciple.
And before you say the cost is too great, perhaps we ought to consider the cost. Do you start building bigger barns, before you even have money to pay for the foundation? Of course not! Do you start a war, if you are already outnumbered 2 to 1, unless you have a clear advantage; Of course not! The problem is that while the examples are clear, the application is not always straightforward.
The one universal problem of man is sin, and its consequences, guilt, shame, and the prospect of punishment. The one universal answer to the question of sin, is that we had best live a good life, according to the law, for in our hearts, indeed, in the hearts of all people, they already know that the wages of sin is eternal death; they already know that God is the righteous judge, they already know that they are guilty. Thatís why all prudent people are seeking to make peace with God.
So it is that we live in a world which is always at war with what we know we ought to do. We live in a world where the enemies of our soul outnumber us 2 to 1. We live in a world, that if we would go along with us, it would drag us down to Hell. Against such overwhelming forces, who is able to go it alone? Who is able to stand by their own reason or strength? But the answer is NOT to make peace with the world, BUT it is to make peace with God in Jesus Christ. We make peace with God in Christ, by leaving everything, and following in faith Ė for we have learned that Christ has already won the victory over sin, over death and over the devil. It may sometimes look like we are outnumbered 2 to 1, but Christ our Savior is a very superior force, he single-handedly over came all our enemies.
You see, God has counted the cost. Not only was he able to vanquish all our foes, and defeat all our adversaries, but he was able to build not just a foundation, but fully furnished heavenly homes for all who believe. Wonderful eternal homes which need no maintenance, no lawns to mow, and not leaves to rake, and never a new coat of paint. And all this, the peace, the victory and the eternal home are ours, not because we have earned them, but are ours as a free gift.
God holds this gift before us, and offers it to us, a gift so great we could never earn it, a gift so great that we could never hope to repay God for his grace and mercy. So it becomes time to count the cost Ė can we afford to decline Godís gracious invitation? Can we afford to lay aside the forgiveness of all our sins? Can we afford to lay aside the everlasting places prepared for us in heaven? And if we are still unsure, then we need ask, what is it that we cannot let go of, that is a greater treasure, that all this that is offered us in Christ our Lord?
Daily we must choose whom we will serve. This is why daily we remember our baptism, and daily we drown the old sinful nature, and daily we rise to the new life which is ours in Christ. So also, daily we examine ourselves, and seeing our sins, we turn from our sins and turn to God, and his grace mercy and love, which are ours in Christ. The strength to daily turn from sin, is not ours of ourselves, but it comes to us by grace through faith. And that we might be assured not only of forgiveness, but of all Godís gracious promises, we come together to the Lordís Table to receive the blood of Jesus which washes away all sin, and which enables us to rise to the new life which was created in us at Baptism. You see, leaving all is really leaving nothing, since Christ has already given us everything Ė and counting the cost, who can afford to leave the salvation that is ours in Christ. Its not always easy, sometimes it really does feel like we need to leave our family, to bring our family with us to Christ, but as there is salvation in no one else, even this, is not so hard. And that is what it is to be a true disciple.