Text: Luke 9:23-27, 57-62 | Listen to Message
In Part I, we looked at what it means to deny – or even die to – yourself in order to follow Christ.
In Part II, let’s go further in the same text and consider what it means to accept a new priority and agenda for your life.
In this conversation that Jesus has with the crowds and with a few specific individuals, he shows us four things we tend to give our first and ultimate allegiance to:
1. Power, Prosperity, and Peace. This is what it means to “gain the whole world” (v. 25). We are driven to seek the comforts, the control, and the material wealth that the world offers. It feels so benign when we call it “The American Dream,” and we simply chase what we see everyone else chasing.
2. Reputation. Why would a believer be ashamed of Jesus and his words (v. 26)? Because we want our peers to accept us, to approve of us, to like us. We mask our relationship with Christ and self-censor our words so that we can be thought well of by those who reject our Lord.
3. Tradition and Cultural Norms. One of the would-be followers of Jesus wanted to first go and bury his father (v. 59). That sounds perfectly reasonable to us. But in the actual historic context, all this man meant is that fulfilling his obligation to tradition was a greater priority than following Jesus. We do the same whenever our first allegiance is to our traditions and cultural mores, and we just fit Jesus in where we can after the fact.
4. Family. Another would-be follower wanted to go and say farewell to his family first, and then come after Jesus (v. 61). Again, sounds pretty reasonable. But how often do we put the routine and reasonable demands of family ahead of our allegiance to Christ? And we never actually get around to prioritizing our Savior because our families will always have needs.
Jesus’ main point in all of these episodes is that following him means accepting a completely new priority and agenda for your life. He’s not saying it’s bad to have money or to be comfortable – any more than he’s saying it’s wrong to love your family. What he’s saying is becoming a Christian reorders and transforms everything, including your perspective on blessings like a paycheck and a marriage.
Essentially, Jesus calls us to let go of our conditional discipleship – things that sound like, “I’ll follow you, IF….I’ll follow you, WHEN….I’ll follow you SO LONG AS…” We should never be telling God, “I’ll follow you, but first…” (which amounts to telling the Lord he’s second or fifth or twelfth place in our lives).
The heart of a true disciple says, “I will follow you first, Jesus, whatever that means and wherever you lead.”