God's truth for today's world

Take Up Your Cross Message Introduction

Today, we’re beginning a new message series called “Bondservant.” We’re going to be talking about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and to follow Him. Jesus said in …

Matthew 10:25a (NASB)  It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master.

Jesus is the teacher and those who follow Him are disciples. What does it mean to be a disciple? A disciple is someone who learns from or is a student or apprentice of the teacher. The goal of a disciple is to become like his teacher. Not only is Jesus the teacher, but Jesus is also the master or Lord (kurios). A master has slaves, those who are owned by and serve their master. Those who are believers in Jesus are both His disciples and His slaves. Jesus said in …

Luke 17:10 (NASB)  “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'”

A slave simply does what his master or lord commands him to do. That is his duty and responsibility. The Greek word translated slave in the two verse we’ve looked at so far is doulos. Unfortunately, many modern translations translate doulos as servant most of the time, which is actually another Greek word diakonos.

Although the two words are related, they are different. For example, is I go to a restaurant, someone will wait on or serve me, they are a servant to me. However, I would never call them my slave. A slave is someone who is owned by a master, who gives them orders. So there is a great difference between slave and servant.

The Bible teaches that everyone in the world is a slave, either to sin or to God.

Romans 6:16 (NIV)  Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

When a person puts their faith in Jesus Christ, they are set free from being a slave to sin and become a slave or bond-servant of Jesus Christ. The Greek word doulos, often translated as slave, can also be translated bond-servant. Every believer is a bond-servant of Jesus.

A law in Old Testament, found in Deuteronomy 15:12-17, beautifully illustrates how we become bond-servants of Jesus. If a Hebrew was the slave of another Hebrew, he would serve for 6 years and then be set free on the 7th year. If the freed slave loved his master and did not want to be set free, he would tell his master. The master would pierce the slave’s ear, signifying that he had chosen of his own free will, to remain a slave to his master for life.

In the same way, those who have been set free from being slaves to sin by Jesus, freely choose to follow Him as their Lord and master, as His bond-servant for life and eternity. A bond-servant of Jesus is not a special class of super believers, but is true of all true believers. Every believer is a bond-servant or slave of Jesus Christ. One day, when we get to heaven, every true believer will hear the words of Jesus …

Matthew 25:23 (NASB)  “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

So, in this series called Bondservant, we are going to look at growing as disciples or bond-servants of Jesus Christ. Today’s message is entitled “Take Up Your Cross.” We going to look at a passage in Luke 14 where Jesus teaches on the cost of being His disciple.

What a disciple of Jesus does

Luke 14:25 (NIV)  Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:

Our story begins with large crowds traveling with Jesus, as He ministered in Palestine. These crowds listened to what Jesus had to say. They watched the things that He did, including the people He healed and the miracles that He performed. Probably, many in those crowds thought they were Jesus’ disciples or followers. However, Jesus’ next words make clear that it takes much more to be a disciple of Jesus. A disciple …

Love Jesus more than anything

Luke 14:26 (NIV)  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.

This is one of Jesus’ hard sayings that has some people scratching their heads. Why would Jesus tell his followers to hate their own families? One of the principles of proper biblical interpretation is to interpret the difficult in light of the easy to understand.

Jesus in many other places teaches us to love our neighbor, to even love our enemies. So, what does He mean here? Jesus means that our love for Him must be so absolute that our love for others could be regarded as hate.

For example, if your faith in Jesus required you to obey Him in an area of life, that your family disagreed on, you would follow Him, not your families’ wishes. In Muslim countries today, to become a believer often means to have to turn your back on your family, as you’ll be ostracized or even killed for your faith.

Not only must you love Jesus more than your family, to be His disciple, you must love Him more than your own life. You must be ready to die to your own desires, even your own life for Jesus. A disciple of Jesus …

Follow Jesus wherever He leads

Luke 14:27 (NIV)  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Here Jesus describes this hatred of your own life apart from Jesus as carrying your cross. Today, the cross is kind of cool, all kinds of people wear crosses as jewelry and decoration. In New Testament times, the cross wasn’t cool. It was a symbol of a cruel form of execution that was very disturbing to see.

To carry your cross does not mean to wear a cross necklace, although there’s nothing wrong with that. To carry your cross is to die to following your own plans and desires in life. Giving them up in order to follow Jesus.

To follow Jesus means you follow Jesus’ example, His words, God’s Word and the voice of the Jesus’ spirit, the Holy Spirit. Jesus has a plan and purpose for your life and a disciple of Jesus follows it.

I heard a story about a man who ordered plans for a birdhouse. Unknown to the man, the plans that were sent were plans for a sailboat. The man tried to put it together, but it just didn’t seem right. He couldn’t figure out what kind of bird would live in such a house.

So, he returned the kit to the company. The company apologized and added “If you think it was difficult for you, you should have seen the man who got your plans trying to sail a birdhouse.

You know, when we try to follow our own plans for our lives, it ends up like trying to sail a birdhouse or trying to get a bird to live in a sailboat. It just doesn’t work. That’s why so many people have so many issues in life.

Jesus has the masterplan for your life. Love Him and follow wherever He leads. I guarantee you that you will have the best life possible as a disciple of Jesus.

Count the cost of being Jesus’ disciple

Luke 14:28 (NIV)  “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?

Jesus gives the example of someone wanting to build a tower. Such a person, would take the time to figure out what it would cost to build the tower and if he had enough money to complete it. It’s just basic advance planning.

Jesus is going to apply this illustration to deciding whether to be a disciple of Jesus. What He is saying, is that is you want to be my disciple, you need to think about whether you are willing and able to pay what it’s going to cost you? As we’ll see, as we go on, it will cost you everything you have.

Jesus goes on with his story about building the tower. The builder needs to …

Follow through on your commitment

Luke 14:29 (NIV)  For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him,

If the builder starts but does not have the resources to finish, it’s not going to end well. He might as well not have started in the first place, if he was not able to follow through on his commitment.

Jesus is saying, if you’re going to follow me and be my disciple, follow through on your commitment. Don’t just start with me and then fall back into your old way of life. Finish what you’ve begun as a follower of Jesus.

Others are watching your life

Luke 14:30 (NIV)  saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

Other people were watching this builder and would ridicule him if he didn’t finish the project. In the same way, other people are watching you. If you’ve said that you’ve become a believer in Jesus, they’re keeping an eye on you. If you fall away from your faith, not only will they ridicule you as a hypocrite, they’ll use your example to reject Christ for themselves.

Jesus is saying, count the cost of being my disciple. It’s going to be a high cost, but you have what it takes to finish the plan that I have for your life.

A man named John Oros spoke of his experience as a Romanian church leader under Communism. He said that when he preached, people would come forward to say they wanted to become Christians. He always told them, that’s good, but there is a big price to be paid. Many things can happen to you that will be difficult.

A large number of people would continue on with a discipleship class. At the end, many people decided to be baptized. Again, John will tell them. That’s nice, but when you give your testimony, informers will be present who will note your name. The next day your problems will start. Count the cost, You may be demoted, lose your job, lose your friends, you can even lose your life.

Yet, many said, even if I lose everything, I want to follow Jesus.

Are you willing to pay the price to follow Jesus and finish His course for your life? What that means is that everything you have is now His. Your family, your house, your job, your money, your time, your talents, your very life. That’s what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

Consider the power of King Jesus

Luke 14:31 (NIV)  “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?

Jesus gives another illustration about counting the cost of being His disciple. In this illustration a weaker king is considering whether to engage in a battle with a stronger king. Jesus instructs us that the weaker king should weigh his options.

Who do these kings represent? Essentially, we represent the weaker king and Jesus represents the powerful king. If you do not submit to being a disciple of Jesus, you have chosen to oppose and be at war with Him. So, the only reasonable course of action is to …

Surrender to Jesus’ terms of peace

Luke 14:32 (NIV)  If 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.

If the weaker king decides that he cannot win the battle, he will send a delegation to the more powerful king and ask for terms of peace. We as mere humans are in no position to oppose King Jesus, so we should see what His terms of peace are. Jesus terms of peace are simply total and unconditional surrender. We must …

Give up everything to be Jesus’ disciple

Luke 14:33 (NIV)  In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

As the weaker king had to surrender to the stronger king, so Jesus says that we must give up everything in order to be His disciple.

As we saw in our last message series, at the end of time, Jesus will defeat and destroy every enemy. So a wise person will submit to Jesus’ terms of peace. What are Jesus’ terms of peace? Simply to believe in Him and submit our lives to Him as our Lord and Master.

In Jesus’ words, give up everything you have in total surrender, becoming a disciple and bondservant of Jesus Christ. That is the only wise course of action, when you consider the power of King Jesus.

A couple of adventurers were rafting the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe at the base of Victoria Falls, the largest in the world. In the US, the highest-class white-water rapids you are allowed to raft is a Class 5. The Zambezi’s whitewater rapids can top Class 8.

As the adventurers strapped on protective clothing and crash helmets, the guide gave instructions. He said, “When the raft flips (not if the raft flips), when the raft flips, stay in the rough water. Don’t be tempted to swim toward the calm water at the banks of the river. Because in the calm water, the crocs wait for you. They are large and hungry. Stay in the rough water with your guide.

In the same way, when you make a choice to surrender your life to Jesus Christ, He is going to take you on the adventure of a lifetime. Jesus is going to take you into rough water, but He’ll never leave you or forsake, He’ll be your guide.

You may be tempted to take an easier road than following Jesus as His disciple. You may be tempted to head for the calm water, apart from Jesus. But if you do, the crocs of Satan will get you. Stay in the rough water as a disciple of Jesus and He’ll get you through.

A disciple of Jesus loves Jesus more than anything and follows Jesus wherever He leads. A bondservant of Jesus counts the cost of following Him and follows through on His commitment.

A disciple of Jesus considers the power of Jesus and surrenders all he has and is to King Jesus. And what do you gain when you become and persevere as Jesus’ disciple? You gain an opportunity to live out Jesus’ grand adventure for your life. And when that adventure is over, you begin an eternal adventure with Jesus that will last forever.

 Message Audio, Outline & Study Guide

Bondservant Message Series

The Ultimate Wedding (Revelation 19 & 21)
Grow to Spiritual Maturity (1 Peter 1-2)
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