Jump Start # 1993
Luke 14:27 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
Many years ago I taught a class about the times when Jesus said, “No.” I called it, “The No’s of Jesus.” One person thought I meant the NOSE of Jesus. He said, “I’ve heard of the footprints of Jesus, but never the nose of Jesus.” I don’t think he got what the class was about.
It’s hard for some to imagine Jesus ever saying “No.” He did. He did often. Not only did Jesus say no, but His Father said it often in the Old Testament. Eight of the Ten Commandments are Thou shalt Not. The picture of Jesus that many have manufactured in their own mind is permissive, tolerant, and never saying “no.” It’s hard for society to have a God who says “no,” when they have grown up with parents who never said “no,” and as adults, they can never say “no” to themselves.
A God who never says “no,” allows us to do whatever we want. It allows us to come and go as we please and serve God on our terms. It allows us to dabble frequently in sin and it allows us to keep one foot, if not both feet in the world. A God who never says “no,” is cool. Everyone likes that kind of god. It’s like having no god, and that’s exactly where people want to be. He’s in the grandstands of life cheering you on, helping you up when you fall, but never so close as interfering with your life. Do what you want, however you want, whenever you want. That’s an awesome God. Who wouldn’t want that on Sunday morning. And if you can’t make a Sunday service, worship on another day, or better yet, just go through the drive through lane at church, drop your contribution, pick up your short motivational pep talk, get a sticker for the kids and you’re done with God until next week. And during the week, have a good week, just don’t get arrested. And the multitudes will flock. Free food, just like Jesus fed the 5,000. Amazing music, just like the angels sang. And a God that pats you on your head, smiles at you and asks, What do you want, just like Santa does. When the Bible is read, it’s only the happy verses. Chapters are not read in entirety. Contexts are not studied nor preached. It’s a happy Jesus, who makes His people today happy.
And in all of this, “No” or, “cannot” doesn’t fit in this picture. A Jesus who expects, demands and puts requirements simple won’t work today. Look at our verse today. Three times in this chapter, Luke 14, Jesus says “you cannot be My disciple.” There were conditions. There were expectations. If a person didn’t carry His own cross, if a person didn’t hate father and mother, if a person doesn’t give up all his possessions, he cannot be Jesus’ disciple. Can you imagine a church saying that today? Sorry, you can’t be a member. Really? Most will take you no questions asked. You can’t ever attend? That’s ok. You can’t or won’t live by the Bible way? That’s ok. You can’t be morally pure? That’s ok. The only restriction would be, we need your money. Just send in some money now and then, and you’re in. Certainly not what Jesus was saying here.
All of this takes us to a much larger discussion about who is God? Is it the Lord or is it us? Jesus said “No,” and “cannot” multiple times. He wanted followers to love the Lord with All of their heart, mind and soul. God is upon the throne and we must respect and honor Him in that way.
It was the Lord who said that the way to life was narrow and the gate was strait or restrictive. It takes some thinking on our part. It takes some effort on our part. Not everything pleases the Lord. Not everything gets a green light. Jesus wants to shape your character and change your thinking. Less about self and more about Him. He wants us to put the spiritual above the physical. He wants us to think of others more than self. He wants us to be doing things and to become like Him. As in any worthwhile endeavor, without restrictions, a person will never achieve. A person who wants to loose weight, has to say “No,” or it will never happen. Holiday cookies. Fudge. Candy. More and more and a person gains weight rather than looses it. The same financially. Impulsive spending kills the budget. We buy and buy and can’t understand why we do not have any money. The reason is we can’t say “no.”
To be a disciple we must not love the world nor be conformed to the world. The world doesn’t define us. The world’s concept of modesty, is immodest. The world is in love with alcohol. It’s at every event and found everywhere. There is even a funeral home in our area that recently got a liquor license so it can sell alcohol. Drinking at a funeral—it’s here. There is no place that one cannot find alcohol. The world can’t watch a game, a concert, a wedding and now even a funeral, without having alcohol in their hand.
To be a disciple, we don’t occasionally date Jesus, we are committed to Him. It’s a marriage. We are all in. And it’s not an equality, where we draw up the terms and set our expectations. He is the Lord. What He says goes without our vote, our pleasure or even our agreement. He is the Lord.
It makes a good study to notice the times when Jesus said, “No.” We need to know those things. To ignore those makes us reshape Jesus into one of us. Instead of we becoming like Him, more would like to turn Him into one of us. We forget that He was without sin. We forget that He came on purpose for a purpose. We forget that He is the Lord.
No is important. Not just in our vocabulary and in our homes, but in our faith.
Jesus said No. Jesus said do not. Jesus said that because He could and He was trying to get us to be who we ought to be. It’s for our good that He said no.