Recently, Edvard Munch’s pastel, “The Scream” sold at auction for just under $120 million.  This leaves many inthe art and business world alike asking, “Is it worth it?”  The consensus seems to be no.  For art critics, there are far more memorable works.  None would place the Scream at the top of the list, which is where it is if price is the qualification.  Art critics claim that the Scream is faddish and not likely to maintain its popularity over time.  Investors point out that the chance of a good return on such a high  investment is very slim.  That is the real deciding factor here.  $120 million has been paid, and to answer the question of worth is a matter of the benefit or return that will come on that investment.  In other words, you pay if the benefit is greater than the cost.

Throughout the book of Luke, we are told of the high cost of following Jesus.  At the end of chapter 9, we learn of three men that wanted to follow Jesus only to learn that the cost was too high.  You may very well be surprised at the cost and in light of it have to ask, “is it worth it?”

The Story

57 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Luke 9:57-58, NKJV)

This man makes a big claim, to follow Jesus wherever He goes.  This is like us saying, “I surrender my life to Jesus,” or “I have died and now live in Him.”  This man gets a surprising response, “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head (58)  That is, there is no promise of earthly wealth or comfort.  We tend to make big claims as well, but would we make them if we knew the cost may be our comfort?  Is it worth it?

59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.”  But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”  60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:59-60, NKJV)

This man is willing to follow Jesus, but has something else to attend to first.  His father is probably not lying dead in the house waiting to be buried.  In those days, it was common for a man to work for his father then inherit everything when his father passed away.  What the man is saying is let me get things squared away.  Let me get my finances in order.  I just need to work enough so I can serve God.  (sound familiar?  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this, and even said it myself)

The response:  Let the dead bury the dead.  “You go and preach the Kingdom of God.” (60)  In other words, your gospel ministry is the top priority.  So, the decision for this man is, do I trust Jesus enough?  Following Jesus requires that level of trust.

61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:61-62, NKJV)

This man says, “I will follow, but…”  There is always something else that we think demands our attention.  For this man it is family.  But for others it could be anything.  Any goal, work; anything that we say, “I would do anything for Jesus, if it wasn’t for…”

The response, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (62)  You cannot be focused on your Gospel ministry and something else.  When someone looks back with a plow, the plow goes off track.  Looking back does nothing for the work they look towards and it spoils the work of the plow.  Putting the hand to the plow and looking back benefits nothing!  If you think you can both follow Jesus and take care of all those other things you are sadly mistaken.  You will probably spoil both.

Where are we in this story?

To many of us, these statements make complete sense.  Why shouldn’t we have comfort?  Why shouldn’t we get things squared away first?  Why shouldn’t we be able to balance Jesus with other important things in our lives?  Yet, Jesus says that the cost of following Him is all these things.

We struggle to grasp that, so instead we substitute cheap religion.  We invest a little time, a little money, avoid a few things in our lives, say a little prayer and call that following Jesus.  Let us be clear:  Jesus set the cost much, much higher.

We must identify this cost and be honest about it.  What comforts can we not do with out?  Is it our standard of living, our security, or our health?  What things do we need to take care of first?  Are we waiting for kids to be grown and out of the house.  Are we waiting to retire?  Are we trying to get things paid off?  Finish this sentence:  I would follow Jesus now, but…”

There is your cost.  Now you must ask, is it worth it?

Another Look At The Story

The cost of following Jesus is everything, but the return is more than you can imagine.  Some will say the cost is too high.  Some will say that this isn’t the cost.  They will settle for cheap religion where the return is just as cheap.  Others will truly surrender all for Jesus only to find that he really does give more than we could possibly imagine both here and in the here after. Luke doesn’t tell us what happened to these men, but we know what happened to some others.  Paul said, “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil 3:8)

Is it worth it?  Yes.  Will you count all as loss?