I love the way the book of Luke weaves stories together. I particularly love this morning’s two chapters because of the contrast they present.
Chapter 14 ends with a serious call to sacrifice everything for the sake of following God. Jesus says:
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple… So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
This is some of the strongest language in Scripture, and rightly so. Jesus wants us to consider the cost of following Him. Then Jesus moves to three very familiar stories that make up chapter 15. The lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. Each of these stories centers around a character who will stop at nothing to receive back what they’ve lost.
The shepherd leaves his sheep in the country to find the lost lamb.
The woman turns her house upside down to find the lost coin.
And the father sacrifices his fortune and his dignity on his beloved son.
What does these stories have in common with the cost of following Jesus?
They all highlight the price that was paid for our salvation. They all display the cost that God incurred upon Himself on our behalf. He is the shepherd who leaves everything to find us wandering in the wilderness. He is the woman who searches high and low to find a lost coin. And He is the father who recklessly gives and gives for the sake of his son (both sons in fact).
The cost that God paid for us was high. Higher in fact than anything we could even dream of paying. He spent the life of His Son to purchase our freedom. He gave it all for us upon the cross, and He calls us to do the same.
“Take up your cross and follow,” Jesus says. In other words, “die for my sake.”
But there is a catch to all this dying and sacrificing. A glorious catch. Paul says it best:
To die is gain.
Our dying to the things of the world, our sacrifice of house and family and livelihood for the sake of the gospel is not really a sacrifice at all. It is the non-cost of discipleship. We give up what little we have to gain everything God has. We are co-heirs with Christ. Raised and seated with Him in glory. The sufferings and joys of this world are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed to us in Christ. God invites to the bountiful feast of heaven, where we will eat at the table of the King for eternity in the splendor of His beauty and glory of His grace.
God calls us to come and buy and eat and be satisfied in Him. We buy not with our money, but with the price He paid. Our meal is covered. Our ticket is paid for. Our flights have been arranged. Our room has been comped. We’ve got a free ride. Everything is on the house. Christ has paid it all.
He paid the cost.
We get the reward.