Return on investment
Luke 14:7-35 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now He began telling a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, 8 “Whenever you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, 9 and the one who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then in disgrace you will proceed to occupy the last place. 10 But whenever you are invited, go and take the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are dining at the table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
12 Now He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “Whenever you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor wealthy neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you to a meal in return, and that will be your repayment. 13 But whenever you give a banquet, invite people who are poor, who have disabilities, who are limping, and people who are blind; 14 and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
15 Now when one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”
16 But He said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; 17 and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, because everything is ready now.’ 18 And yet they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I purchased a field and I need to go out to look at it; please consider me excused.’ 19 And another one said, ‘I bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ 20 And another one said, ‘I took a woman as my wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’ 21 And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here those who are poor, those with disabilities, those who are blind, and those who are limping.’ 22 And later the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and the hedges and press upon them to come in, so that my house will be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my dinner.’”
25 Now large crowds were going along with Him, and He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 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? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who are watching it will begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build, and was not able to finish!’ 31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to face the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 Otherwise, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and requests terms of peace. 33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
34 “Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? 35 It is useless either for the soil or the manure pile, so it is thrown out. The one who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
In the western church, most of the of the sermons that are preached and most of the books that are written, focus on the benefits and the blessing of being a Christian. Indeed, the benefits of being in Christ are beyond calculation. Still, in today’s text Jesus says: “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 foundation and is not able to finish, all who are watching it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This person 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 consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to face the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Otherwise, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and requests terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.” There is also a cost to following Christ. If Jesus is Lord, He must be Lord of all. Our cross is not that we need to suffer for Christ. That was Jesus cross to bear. Isaiah 53:4-6 says: Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Although those words were written before Jesus was born, they are spoken in the past tense. In John 19:30, when Jesus was on the cross. He said: “It is finished!” All of the suffering and sacrifice is past. He did it for us.
So, what then is the cost that we should calculate or consider? It isn’t really that we need to sell all of our possessions. We could perhaps say that the cost of following Christ is summed up in what He says is the greatest commandment. In Matthew 22:37-38 Jesus says: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.” The only real cost we need to consider is that God must be first and foremost in our lives. Many people fear or refuse to follow Christ because they believe the cost is too great, that they will need to sacrifice too much. In truth, there really is no cost, only a small investment that yields immeasurable return. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus says: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.” If we will put His kingdom first, we will gain an inheritance that holds everything we want and need. Psalm 37:4 says: Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.
In Matthew 6:34 Jesus says: “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Life will not be without trouble. That is true whether or not we follow Christ. But in John 16:33 Jesus says: “These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” The choice is ours. We can struggle and strive to make it through the difficult times that we face, or we can yield to Jesus, the one who has already done all that needs to be done through the finished work of the cross. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says: “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is comfortable, and My burden is light.” The cross we are to bear must be fashioned into a yoke that binds us to walk with and follow Christ with every step.
The Lord is my shepherd, I will not be in need. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For the sake of His name. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Certainly goodness and faithfulness will follow me all the days of my life, And my dwelling will be in the house of the Lord forever. Amen.