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“Under What Conditions Will You Serve Christ?


(Luke 9:57-62)

Introduction: The gospel has been preached in the world for many years now, since the
first coming of Christ, and many have made their profession of allegiance to Him. But
obviously not all of these have truly embraced Christ. In this country alone, somewhere
around 80 - 90% of the population claim to be “born-again” Christians. But if this is true,
why is there so much moral evil in this nation? Could it all be from so small a percentage
of people? It is either that true Christians are really not that much different from the
world, or that a great majority of those who believe they are following Christ, really are
not. If we examine what the Bible says about the nature of believers, we find that we
must take the second option. John tells us in his first letter, “No one who is born of God
practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of
God” (3:9), and “We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of
God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him” (5:18). Not only does the one who is
born of God not practice sin because of God’s grace in him through Christ, but he also
practices righteousness by means of that same grace. “If you know that He is righteous,
you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him” (2:29), and,
“Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous,
just as He is righteous” (3:7). As I have said on numerous occasions, it is not the
professing of Christ that makes one a Christian, for there are many who profess to know
Him who are yet on the broad road to destruction. But it is the living of the Christian life
from the heart that makes one a Christian, for that can only be done by God’s grace. Jesus
said that if you love Him, if you really love Him from the heart, then you will keep His
commandments, you will show yourself to be a true Christian.
Our text this morning bears this out. It is the account of Christ’s interaction with
three men, all of whom wanted to be His disciples, but yet had something of the world
which was in their way. Like the seed that had been sown among the thorns, these were
hindered by the cares of the world. It is my hope that God, by His Spirit, will use this
passage to reveal to us if our hearts are divided, partly to Him and partly to the world, that
He might once and for all wean us from the things of the world, and separate us entirely to
Himself. What this passage tells us is that

You may not have the world and Christ too. If you come to Christ with any
conditions, anything which you are not willing to give up for Him, you cannot come to
Him at all. Christ wants us unconditionally, or He will not have us.

I. Let Us First, Then, Look at the Hasty Disciple.


A. Luke records, “And as they were going along the road, someone said to Him, ‘I will
follow You wherever You go.’”
1. This was the time of Christ’s great popularity. People were flocking around
Him, wanting to associate with Him, wanting to see the miracles He performed
and hear Him teach.
2. And as they were walking along, someone from the crowd said to Him, “I will
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follow You wherever You go.”


a. This man, Matthew tells us, was a scribe, one who was schooled in, and who
taught, the Law of Moses.
b. He seemed to be interested in following Christ. He seems to have wanted to
become one of His disciples. He said to Jesus, “I will follow You.”
c. Notice too that there didn’t seem to be any limit to what the man was willing
to do for Him, for he said, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
d. He apparently was deeply affected by the things which Christ had said and
done. He was convinced that following this man was the right thing to do,
even though many others of his kind were deeply set in opposition to Him.
e. Certainly, on the surface, this man looked ripe for discipleship. Many who
looked at him would have judged him to be a converted man, especially in
today’s church.

B. But notice how Christ responded to him. It shows us that He knew something
about this man, and all men, which could not be seen on the surface. He said, “The
foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere
to lay His head.”
1. He points out that, though, through the benevolence of His Father, all the
creatures of the earth have their homes and places of rest, He has nowhere upon
which to even lay His head.
a. Christ was not rich, nor did He expect to gain riches through His ministry.
b. Rather, Christ was poor. He was completely dependent on the hospitality of
others even to carry on His ministry (Luke 8:3).
c. I believe that He became such that He might show us the emptiness of worldly
possessions, and that He might purchase for us something better than this
world’s wealth, something eternal, something infinitely valuable. Paul writes,
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet
for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become
rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).

2. Jesus is saying to this man, “Realizing that there is nothing of the world to gain,
by following Me, will you still come?
a. Jesus is pointing him to the cost of discipleship, asking him whether or not he
has actually sat down and figured it out.
b. There will be no warm houses or soft beds. There will be no easy roads.
Have you considered what it will cost you? Do you realize that it will cost
you everything?
c. Christ asks us the same question this morning. Have you counted the cost?
d. Luke records, in 14:25-35, “Now great multitudes were going along with
Him; and He turned and said to them, ‘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 carry
his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of
you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the
cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a
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foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him,
saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.” Or what king,
when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and take
counsel whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the
one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still
far away, he sends a delegation and asks terms of peace. So therefore, no one
of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it
be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is
thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’”
e. It could be that this man had a false idea of what being a disciple of Christ
would really entail. Is that the case with any of you this morning?
f. Christ says that you must first count the cost before you should ever come
after Him.
g. This idea of trying to get people into the kingdom without showing them the
cost, lest we scare them away, is foolishness. We cannot even enter the
kingdom until we have decided that we are willing to pay the price.
h. Now don’t misunderstand. Salvation is free, but once we have been
redeemed by Christ, all that we are and all that we ever shall be becomes His.
It was really His all along, only now we recognize this and submit to it.
i. Have you counted the cost, and have you paid the price? Have you given up
everything to follow Christ as He commands? Are you holding anything
back? There are those who are willing to give up just so much, and no more.
But that condition they place on their submission is enough to miss out on
heaven.
j. Christ wants all of you. He wants you to devote all of your possessions, your
time, your strength, your energies, your health, and even your life to Him.
k. If you hold anything back, you are only deceiving yourself. The great
English martyr, Thomas Cranmer, realized this after he had recanted of his
Protestantism and signed a document to that effect to save his life. But when
he later recanted of his recantation, and was brought to the stake to be burned,
he first put out the hand that signed that paper into the flames, before that same
fire burned his body to ashes for his unwillingness to compromise.
l. Christ did not reject this scribe, but only challenged the sincerity of his offer.
We really don’t know what his response to Christ was. But Christ asks you as
well this morning, Are you willing to accept Him on His terms? If the grace
of God is in your heart, you have, and you will continue to do so.

II. Let Us Look Secondly, Now, at the Procrastinating Disciple.


A. Luke writes, “And He said to another, ‘Follow Me.’ But he said, ‘Permit me first
to go and bury my father.’”
1. The first makes to Christ a vow of allegiance, “I will follow You wherever You
go.” But to this one, He gives the command, “Follow Me.”
a. Now the call of Christ is a call to be heeded.
b. When He called Simon and Andrew, and James and John, they immediately
left their boats and their businesses and followed Him (Matt. 4:18-22).
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c. When He called Matthew, while he was sitting at the tax office, He said to
him, “’Follow Me!’ And he rose, and followed Him” (9:9).
d. The Spirit of God was active within them, giving them the desire to follow
Christ.

2. But this man did not immediately come.


a. He seemed to be willing, but was not willing just yet. He had an excuse.
b. He said, “Permit me first to go and bury my father.”
c. Since Jewish burial was usually performed on the same day in which a person
died, it is very likely that this man’s father was still living. He in essence was
saying, “Let me go back first, and perform the duty of a son to my father by
laying his head in the grave after he dies, and then I will come.”
d. This was not sinful. This was a noble and righteous thing. It is the duty of
all children to care for their parents until their time on earth is ended.

B. But Jesus’ response again cuts to the heart of the matter. He says, “Allow the dead
to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of
God.”
1. Now realize here that Jesus is not saying that taking care of your parents is not
important.
a. The fifth commandment tells us that we must honor our parents. We must
obey them, speak well of them and take care of them, especially when they are
old, even as they cared for us when we could not care for ourselves.
b. What this man wanted to do was good. It was right. But we must not forget
that there are priorities within the kingdom of heaven.

2. There was something vastly more important to do.


a. The kingdom of God was now near. There was need of those who would go
out and preach.
b. Taking care of his father and mother was important, but Jesus was calling him
to a higher calling. Leave off that duty, and go and proclaim the kingdom.
c. And Jesus tells him not to worry about his father. For there are others who
can take care of him. He says, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead.”
That is, allow those who are dead to the things of the Lord, those who are
spiritually dead, to take care of your father when he dies. They can do what it
is that you are so concerned about. But if you will follow Me, there is
something you can do which they cannot. You can proclaim the kingdom!
d. Again, we are not told what this man did, only what he needed to do. And of
course the same is true of us.
e. As we have already seen in Luke 14, Christ calls us to love Him more than the
closest of relations. He calls us to love Him more than father and mother,
more than wife and children, more than brothers and sisters, yes, more than
even our own lives.
f. We may not, in God’s Providence, ever be faced with such a decision as this,
having to leave off the care of our families in order to follow Christ, as this
man was called to do. But in whatever Christ calls us, we must obey, and we
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must obey immediately. We must not allow ourselves to make any excuses.
We must not procrastinate. We must be willing to sacrifice anything and
everything to do whatever our Lord ordains for us. Our love and allegiance to
Him must excel all. We must place no conditions on our following Him.
g. And again, if the grace of God is in our hearts, we will do so. We will not be
able to resist His will, because we will not want to. This is a mark of
regeneration, that we are willing to immediately sacrifice all to follow Him. It
doesn’t mean that we must give up everything right away, but if the Lord calls
us to do so, we will.

III. Having Seen the Hasty Disciple and the Procrastinating Disciple, Let Us Look
Lastly at the Wavering Disciple.
A. A third man said to Christ, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say
goodbye to those at home.”
1. He is like the first man in that he volunteered, “I will follow you Lord,” and like
the second in that there was one thing yet in his way, another condition, “But first
permit me to say goodbye to those at home.”
2. However, this man’s problem was not like the first or the second.
a. The first had not counted the cost to see if he was willing to pay the price.
b. The second wanted to follow Christ, but found what he thought was a
legitimate excuse to keep him from immediate obedience.
c. This man, judging from Christ’s reply to him, seems to have been willing to
part with everything, but yet he had the problem of looking back.

B. And so Christ says to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking
back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
1. Jesus replies, “You cannot put your hand to the work and have your heart turning
back to the world. That is like a man who begins to plow a furrow in the ground
as he prepares it for the seed and then turns around. Once he has done so, he
goes off the mark.”
2. The way of Christ and of His kingdom is very narrow.
a. There isn’t room on the highway of the righteous for yourself and the world
and your sin. There is only room for soul and body.
b. Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is
broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the
gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who
find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).
c. He said, “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to
enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:24).
d. If while you are striving to reach that narrow door, you turn again towards the
world, you will miss the mark, step off the path, and end up on the broad road
at last.
e. Jesus warns, “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32). Remember that she was
fleeing out of Sodom, which was a type of the world, but her heart was still in
it. She turned back, even though the angel warned her not to, and in the midst
of what would have been her salvation, she fell under God’s wrath. She was
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turned into a pillar of salt. This is a picture of what is true in seeking to enter
God’s eternal kingdom.
f. Jesus says that if our hearts are still connected with the world, we shall also
fall short of the kingdom of God. When He says, “No one, after putting his
hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God,” what He is
saying is that such are not suited to God’s kingdom, they are not useful in that
kingdom. They are like salt with no saltiness, or a lamp put under a bushel.
They are good for nothing, but to be thrown out and trampled under foot by
men.
g. And so we must again examine our hearts to see if we live in this world, but
are not of the world, or if we are indeed of this world.
h. Have you become engaged to Christ, only to continue to flirt with the world?
Have you put your hand to the plow, only to turn back? If so, you have never
left the city of destruction in the first place. You have yet to flee from Sodom.
If you have a divided heart, you will not enter into God’s kingdom, but will
eventually face His wrath.
i. It is the one who endures on the narrow road to the end that shall be saved.
The author to the Hebrews writes, “For you have need of endurance, so that
when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE, HE WHO IS COMING WILL
COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY. BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL
LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO
PLEASURE IN HIM. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction,
but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul” (10:36-39).
j. And so we have seen three things which can hinder us from entering the
kingdom: failure to count the cost, excusing ourselves from immediate
obedience to Christ’s commands, and having a heart which is divided between
Christ and the world.
k. Are any of these things hindering you this morning? Then realize that you
will only find victory over them in Christ. Only He can give you a heart to
give up everything that you own to Him. Only He can remove your excuses
and give you the resolution to move forward. Only He can give you a true
heart which is committed only to Him.
l. If you hear the voice of Christ calling you in the Scriptures this morning, then
respond to His call of consecration. Do not place any conditions on your
obedience to Christ. Do not be another professing Christian who will
eventually be shipwrecked because of lack of faith. But believe on Christ and
turn from your sins. God can give you the grace to persevere. It is within
His power. But He only does so through His Son. May God therefore grant
you the grace to come to Him that you might find life. Amen.