Happy 4th of July to my fellow Americans! This is a day we celebrate our over 200 years of independence. This is a day we remember the sacrifice of those over time that have obtained our independence and have kept it in the ensuing years. See independence didn’t come free, it didn’t come without a high cost for many. See, England wasn’t so willing to free us. We didn’t send the them the Declaration of Independence and have them say “Oh, OK… no problem!” No, they weren’t too happy with us at the time. They were not going to let us get away so easily. In fact, they felt they would come in, throw their weight around a little and we would come cowering back begging for forgiveness. But that’s a story for another day.
Today, I want to talk about the price that was paid for something that they believed in. Full disclosure, this was the topic of our sermon this week at church. I’m bringing in the analogy of our nation’s independence, but much of the concept and topic was pulled from their sermon. Check out the Jesus Is sermon series and look for the July 3rd, 2016 sermon (it’s not linked yet as I type this). The concept is: The price you pay shows your level of belief. Are you willing to only pay a little? Then it might not hold much worth to you. Are you willing to pay a lot, perhaps give it all? Then you are all in.
See back in 1776, those 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, knew full well, that by signing they were putting themselves and their families on a list of traitors. If caught, they could be put to death. Take the story of Richard Stockton of New Jersey. He was captured, held prisoner and tortured by the British to the point where his health never recovered after he was released and he died in 1781. Or Francis Lewis of New York, whose home was destroyed and his wife was taken prisoner by the British. Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy man, lent large sums of their personal fortune to the war effort but were never repaid. These men, signed the declaration, knowing the cost, but they also knew the reward and could the even imagine 200+ years later what our great nation has become.
Let’s look at the Bible and see what cost some were willing to pay. See even Jesus said there is a cost to following him.
If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 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. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. — Luke 14:26-33
See Jesus was saying, to become his disciple, you must be all in. You must be willing to deny yourself, your family and even your life. The cost can be high, but you must determine, is Jesus worth it all?
Look at what else Jesus says about his followers:
When the world hates you, remember that they hated me before it hated you. The world would love you if you belonged to it, but you don’t. I chose you to come out of the world, and so it hates you. – John 15: 18,19
See following Jesus comes with a cost. If you’re all in, those friends or family members that don’t understand or know the glory of our Savior, may very well walk away from you. You will lose friends and perhaps family members. It can be a high cost.
Let’s look at the contrast between Mary and some of the disciples and how they felt about paying the cost to follow Jesus.
Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from the essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it and wiped his feet with her hair. -John 12:3
This was a big deal, first that bottle of perfume was very expensive, probably a years worth of wages back then. This act came at a high cost to her. This is not a decision she would have taken lightly. Secondly, she let her down to wipe is feet with it. See back in that time and culture, respectable women never let their hair down in public, she was severly risking her reputation by doing so.
True worship however is not concerned with what others thing or with the cost.
I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. 2 Samuel 6:21-22
Now contrast that with how the disciples acted. The disciples, seen as some of his most loyal followers, were incensed at her display. The story of John singles out Judas, but the other gospels paint a bit of a broader stroke.
Some of those at the table were indignant. ‘Why was this expensive perfume wasted?’ they asked. ‘She could have sold it for a small fortune and given the money to the poor!’ and they scolded her harshly. – Mark 14:4-5
While they seemed to be worried about the poor, but this was more about greed than anything else. In John’s account, who points out Judas, the treasurer of the group and had been seen as embezzling funds, saw this as a wasted opportunity to line his own pocket. But nevertheless, they missed out on what was really important, the true worship of God.
So sitting in this sermon, I felt moved not only by the stories of Mary and others that gave the sacrifice to follow Jesus and those that sacrificed to make this nation great, but felt humbled when I thought about my own life and reflected on at what cost have I been willing to pay to follow Jesus. What if God came to me and said, “follow me to be a missionary oversees, sell your home, quit your job, trust in me that I will provide and pack up your family and follow me.” How would I react? Would the cost be too high?
Think on a smaller scale, is the cost of sacrificing some of my “fun” money too high that I can’t fully give my tithe? Is the cost of me being able to drive the nicest cars or eat the best food or play with the nicest toys too high, that I can’t donate to those truly in need? Is the cost too high to the potential loss of friendships, that I’m failing to talk about Jesus and what he’s done for me?
A lot of food for thought, but I close this post with this. The cost you pay will show the level of belief that you have in the worth of Jesus. What is the cost you are willing to pay?