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                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

               The Challenge Of Following Jesus (8:18-22)

INTRODUCTION

1. As Jesus went about His earthly ministry, He was often followed by
   large multitudes...
   a. Drawn by His teachings - Mt 7:28-8:1
   b. Attracted by His miracles - Mt 8:16-18

2. Some of those who followed Him wanted to become His disciples...
   a. Willing to be taught by Jesus - e.g., Mt 5:1-2
   b. Wanting to follow Jesus as their Lord and Master - e.g., Mt 8:19

3. Jesus would later command His apostles to make disciples of all the
   nations...
   a. As found in The Great Commission - Mt 28:19-20
   b. Clearly Jesus wanted people to become His disciples

4. But Jesus never misled the multitudes...
   a. It would not be easy to be His disciple
   b. Following Him would be a challenge!

5. In our text for today's study (Mt 8:18-22), we find Jesus responding
   to two individuals regarding the matter of discipleship...
   a. "The hasty scribe" who wanted to become a disciple
   b. "The reluctant disciple" who needed to be reminded of what it
      meant to be a disciple

[This passage should remind us of "The Challenge Of Following Jesus",
taken seriously by all who would be His disciples.  For instance, in 
the case of "the hasty scribe" we learn...]

I. ONE MUST BE WILLING TO COUNT THE COST

   A. THE SCRIBE'S OFFER...
      1. He expressed a willingness to follow Jesus anywhere - Mt 8:19
      2. A commendable offer, but does he know what it means?

   B. THE MASTER'S REPLY...
      1. Jesus informed the scribe that He was homeless - Mt 8:20
         a. As an itinerant preacher, Jesus had no place to call home
         b. Many a night might be spent with no roof overhead
      2. To follow Jesus at that time would mean to leave all
         a. As was necessary for Peter, Andrew, James, and John - Mt 4:
            18-22
         b. As was encouraged of the rich young ruler - Mt 19:21

   C. ONE NEEDS TO COUNT THE COST BEFORE BECOMING A DISCIPLE...
      1. As Jesus told the multitudes who followed Him - Lk 14:25-33
      2. One does not have to become homeless to follow Jesus today, 
         but we must still:
         a. Love Him more than family and life
         b. Forsake all by making Him the Lord and Ruler of our lives
      3. In our zeal to win souls, do we neglect to tell people the 
         cost of becoming a disciple of Jesus?
         a. The cost of observing all that Jesus commands? - Mt 28:20
         b. A cost that might require a radical change in one's life?
            1) E.g., quitting jobs that interfere with holy living
            2) E.g., leaving friends who seek to lead one astray
            3) E.g., changing lifestyles, or getting out of unlawful
               marriages
         c. That one's repentance is fundamental to the gospel message? 
            - cf. Lk 24:46-47; Ac 2:38; 3:19; 17:30-31; 20:20-21

[When a person wants to follow Jesus, that is wonderful!  But we should
remind people there is a cost involved, one they need to consider 
before they commit.

For those who are already disciples, we must not forget "The Challenge
Of Following Jesus".  In the case of "the reluctant disciple", we are
reminded that...]

II. WE MUST BE WILLING TO PAY THE PRICE

   A. THE DISCIPLE'S REQUEST...
      1. He desires to forego following Jesus in order to bury his
         father first - Mt 8:21
      2. Sounds like a devoted son, what harm is there in his request?

   B. THE MASTER'S RESPONSE...
      1. Jesus tells him to follow Him and let the dead bury their own
         dead - Mt 8:22
         a. I.e., let the spiritually dead bury the physical dead
         b. Others could handle such familial tasks, his responsibility
            was to answer to a higher calling
      2. Jesus often made it clear...to follow Him meant putting Him
         before family
         a. As we saw earlier - Lk 14:26
         b. As He taught His disciples in preparing them for The 
            Limited Commission - Mt 10:34-37
         c. As He set the pattern on one occasion when His family was
            seeking Him - cf. Mt 12:46-50

   C. WE NEED TO PAY THE PRICE OF BEING DISCIPLES...
      1. As disciples, we are taught there may be a price to pay to
         remain faithful
         a. As Paul taught the new disciples on his first journey 
            - Ac 14:21-22
         b. As Paul wrote to Timothy at the end of his life - 2Ti 3:
            10-12
      2. Far too often, disciples today want to first "bury the dead",
         such as:
         a. Putting family responsibilities before the Lord
            1) E.g., missing services to entertain visiting family or
               friends
            2) Did not Jesus tell Martha some things take precedent
               over the desire to be a gracious host? - Lk 10:38-42
         b. Accepting jobs when they know it will hinder their service
            to the Lord
            1) E.g., occupations that are so demanding, one has little
               time or energy left
            2) You might think them necessary to support family, but
               did not Jesus promise that God will provide if you put
               the kingdom first? - Mt 6:31-33
      3. In our zeal to provide for our families, do we forget that we
         are disciples of Christ?
         a. There are many good and noble things that can be done in
            relation to kin and occupation
         b. But as disciples of Christ, we have a higher and more noble
            calling - 1Pe 2:9-10
            1) As a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy 
               nation, God's own special people
            2) To proclaim the praises of God who called us out of
               darkness into His marvelous light
         c. If we can't "bury the dead" without neglecting our service
            to Jesus, then we must "let the dead bury the dead"!

CONCLUSION

1. In many places, the Lord's church suffers through neglect...
   a. Attendance is sporadic
   b. Service rendered is minimal
   c. Discipleship is practiced only when convenient

2. There may be many reasons for this, but I suspect two head the 
   list...
   a. Teaching the gospel without mention of the cost of discipleship
   b. Disciples who have forgotten there is a price to pay for 
      following Jesus

3. In an age of "easy believism", do not forget "The Challenge Of
   Following Jesus"...
   a. Let "the hasty scribe" remind you to count the cost of becoming a
      disciple
   b. Let "the reluctant disciple" remind you of the need to pay the
      price of being a follower of Jesus!

This is one of the paradoxes of Christianity:  the salvation that Jesus
offers is a free gift, but it comes at a high cost.  Jesus truly "paid
it all", so one cannot earn their salvation; but as our Savior and Lord
He requires that we have the servant mentality:

   "So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you
   are commanded, say, `We are unprofitable servants. We have done
   what was our duty to do.'"  (Lk 17:10)

Have you counted the cost?  Are you willing to pay the price?  Both are
required to follow Jesus!
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