The Point of First and Last

Luke 14-15

What does it cost to be a follower of Jesus? Is it free?

I haven’t really thought about following Jesus in that way.  Somehow in my reading, I must have skipped over these words from Jesus:

28“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

31“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?32If 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. 33In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

Could He be clearer than that?  What have I given up for Jesus?  What was He talking about here?  In context,we see that Jesus is working on the theme of humbly putting others before yourself.  He saw people jostling each other for places of honor at the dinner table, so he used the opportunity as a teachable moment:

8“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests.11For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Jesus wants us to give up our places of honor.  Looking at my something as simple as my driving habits will tell you that I do not follow this precept from Him as I should.  Isn’t there an inherent drive in all of us, when we are sitting at a red light, to pull ahead of the car beside us?  (or is that just me and my lead foot?)  What about our desire to come in first place?  Or to get in the grocery line ahead of the person whose basket is piled high?  Do you know someone who loves to be first in gloom and doom?  If you are in a bad mood, no matter what it is that contributed to your bad day, his or hers is worse.  Then you find yourself getting irritated and one-up this person with another story of how bad things were today.  Pretty soon, you find yourself competing.  Why?  Because even in our doldrums, we want to be first.

Jesus says we have to turn this tendency around and put ourselves last.  I guess if I said I was the first and worst offender in this regard, I would be proving my point that we like to the best/first/most impressive at whatever we do…even if whatever we are doing is something bad/wrong/least impressive!

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