THE COST OF THE CROSS
Years ago when I was in the College, accommodation on campus was very scarce. It was very difficult to get accommodated throughout one’s study period. But no sooner I stepped into the University that I learnt from ‘stalelites’ (the appellation given to senior students: taken from the word stale as against fresh), that it was possible to get accommodated throughout ones study period if I participated in sporting activities. So I decided to become a sportsman even though I didn’t have previous experiences. I obtained a registration form for participation in a cross-country race and begun to train for the d-day. But before the very day of the competition the sports Commissioner gathered all registered competitors together in a large bus to be driven round the routes for familiarization. As we cruised along up and down the hills, many competitors suddenly decided to opt out of the race as they now realized how long the journey was while still been driven in a bus. They have considered the cost of the race and found out they would not be able to pay it. This morning we want to talk about the cost of the cross or of discipleship, and our text is taken from the book of Matthew chapter four, verse eighteen to twenty. And Jesus walking by the Sea of Galilee saw two brethren, Simon called Peter and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. And he saith unto them follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets and followed him. And going from thence he saw other two brethren, James and son of Zebedee, John his brother in a ship with Zebedee their father mending their nets and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father and followed him.’
IT MAY COST YOU YOUR PROFESSION
For anyone to follow Jesus there are some prices to pay. It must cost you something. The cross of Jesus cost these disciples just read about some things. It cost them their nets, ship and even their parents. As many of us who have decided to be followers of Jesus must be ready to pay the price. The cross may cost you your family. I mean the family attachment you used to cherish before you gave your life to Jesus. It will certainly cost you your comfort, social status and money. It could even cost you your profession.
IT IS GOING TO CREATE ENEMIES FOR YOU
Immediately you give your life to Jesus your immediate enemies arise from the members of your immediate family. You’ll suddenly find yourself an outcast because of your belief and they will tell you that you have gone crazy. This is why I am telling you in advance so that when enemies arise against you out of your families you will not because of that go away from faith. It must happen except your whole family has been converted. Our Lord Jesus said: “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father and the daughter against her mother, and daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.’’ Matt. 10:35-37 I am assuring you that your new – found faith in Jesus would bring you enemies from your own house. And this is what you have to consider immediately you enlist in the “Army of the cross”. And because of the enmity between you and your own family you will suddenly realized that you now have a new family, a new set of people, peculiar and holy. Even our Lord Jesus Christ had a new family since he had decided to do the will of the Father. The Bible makes us to understand that even the members of Jesus family did not share his belief, and so it happened one day as he was preaching somebody came in and told him: “…Behold thy mother and thy brethren stand without desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him. Who is my mother and who’s my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand towards disciples and said behold my brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of my father, which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister and mother.’’ Matt 12:46-50 The only reason why Jesus blood family stood outside at this period of his teaching ministry was that they did not want to be identified with his message which some have described as heretical. Jesus had to identify with a new family where there is joy, peace and happiness. It is only those people who sit and listen to the word of God that are our new families. As you are listening to me, you are my mother and father, brother and sister. Your family is that which does the will of God.
IT MAY COST YOU YOUR LIFE
I read a letter of Mr. Walter Gowon one of the founding fathers of (Evangelical Church of West Africa) E.C.W.A. written to his dear mother in 1894 from the Soudan. This letter reads in part: “Written in view of my approaching end which has oft’ lately seemed as near but just now seems almost imminent, and I want to write while I have the power to do it. Well Glory be to God. He has enabled me to make a hard fight, for the Soudan and although it may seem like a total failure and defeat “it is not”. We shall have the Victory and that right speedily. I have no regret for undertaking this venture and in this manner my life has not been thrown away. My only regrets are for my poor dear mother, for her sake I would have chosen to live …” This man died in Northern Nigeria without been able to fulfil his obligation to his dear mother and his sister. He had to forgo his family and even his life in order to follow Jesus. This could also be demanded of you or anyone of us. Also God said unto Abraham to get out of his country and his kindred and from his father’s house unto a land that he didn’t know. He obeyed God and never had the opportunity of meeting them again. That was the price he had to pay for the call of God. The mere fact that you are here this morning for the 7 am service meant you have already paid a price. You must have woken up around 5.a.m to make this service. There is a price to pay for the cross.
IT WILL COST YOU YOUR COMFORT
Many a time the work of the Gospel would make you stay away from your own house, maybe in the bush. That was exactly what our Lord Jesus went through. Sometimes he slept on the mountain and sometimes he slept in the valley or in a ship. This is what he told a scribe who wanted to follow him wherever he went: …And Jesus saith unto him. The foxes have holes and bird of the air have nests but the son of man hath nowhere to lay his head. Matt 8:19-20 Well those verses talk about our Master and I know that servants are not above their masters. If Jesus had to go through this certainly we cannot be spared. I remember during our last Annual Convention at the Redemption Camp, there were so many complaints about the unsuitability of accommodation, as many people had to sleep on bare floor and on benches. I guess you were surprised at this because it was your first time. You are yet to see anything: following Jesus could cost you your comfort.
IT WILL COST YOU YOUR SOCIAL STATUS.
Among you sitting here today are chiefs, doctors, professors etc but in the church here we reduced everybody to brothers and sisters. Yes I know there are Managing Directors and Chairmen who would want to be addressed so, but we call you brother and sister. This Gospel will cost you such things. In the book of John 3:1-2 we read that: “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus a ruler among the Jews. The same came to Jesus by night and said unto him, Rabbi we know that thou art a teacher come from God for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” The Bible called Nicodemus a ruler among the Jews and also a Pharisee and you know what it means to be a ruler among the Jews. Yet Nicodemus humbled himself and came by night to meet Jesus. Today many people do not want to go to pastors they will just order them to come. Not only that, he called Jesus, Rabbi a respected name for teachers. Others have described him as the prince of Beelzebub but Nicodemus called him a teacher from God. He had to humble himself to obtain salvation. It was the call of God that reduced Moses to a wanderer in the desert for several years. He would have become a Pharaoh. He had been taught to think, talk and act like a king before the call of God set in. Moses lost that status. He lost the opportunity of becoming a world president, because at that time Pharaoh’s Egypt was ruling the world. Moses would have become like an American President of today, but he lost it. You may have to pay such price for the cross. I am not quite certain of what your own will be because even as you are listening to me it is costing us different things.
IT WILL COST YOU YOUR HARD EARN MONEY.
You have to contribute offering and other types of contributions. Last week Sunday being the Thanksgiving Sunday we contributed offering almost three times. If it were in the past I would have complained but now I do not. That is part of what I have to pay. The book of Malachi 3:10 say: “Bring yee all the tithe into the storehouses that there may be meet in my house and prove me now here with saith the Lord of host if I will not open you a blessing, that there shall not be enough room to receive it”
IT WILL COST YOU ALL YOUR DEGREES
I was in my office last week when someone came in and picked a book by Pastor E.A. Adeboye from my desk. He read through the back cover and said “…so this pastor has BSc, MSc and PhD. degrees in Applied Mathematics” and I said yes. He shook his head and said, “This man is wasting away”. This is the fifth point: you may have to pay the cost of the cross with your profession. In our text we found that Simon Peter, James and John paid for Jesus calling with their profession. They were professional fishermen but they left everything, never to fish again as they followed Jesus. Elisha was also a big time farmer with modern farming implements. He left everything. There are many of us here today listening to me that are future Pastors and Evangelists. There are Doctors here that may end up in Counselling Department, lawyers as Sunday School Teachers while some others will fit into Children Teachers and Ushering Departments. The cross could cost you your profession.
THE GAINS OF LOOSING ALL.
Now back to the story I told you about the cross-country race. For my participation in the race, bearing the pain and hardship, I was never a squatter during my school year but a “landlord/ Bed space Lord”. For anyone who suffers the lost of anything that I have talked about, there is hope of becoming a landlord in heaven. Those who refused to pay the price will be going to the other side, because unlike in the schools squatters are not allowed in heaven. You either become a landlord in heaven or at the other side, and as you are warming up for heaven they are also warming up for hell. Only of recent I have being hearing a strange music on the radio shouting “Hey Hoo’’. That is the sound of pain and agony and it is only in Hell that you hear people shouting like that. But what benefits are we going to derive for paying so much for the cross? If you ask this question you are not alone, even Jesus’ disciples did the same. “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold we have forsaken all and followed thee what shall we have therefore? But Jesus answered him that:- And everyone that hath forsaken houses or brethren or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or land for my name’s sake shall receive a hundred fold and shall inherit everlasting life.” Matt 19:29. Jesus promises us that everything lost will be regained a hundred fold. If the Lord tarried your family that rejects you for the Gospel’s sake will soon know Jesus and thus love you again. That was true of the Lord Jesus family. His mother and brethren later joined with Jesus’ disciples. But above all, let not your heart be troubled Jesus has gone to prepare a place for you and he will come again to take you himself. John 14:1-3. Having known all these: what should our response be? I advise that our response should be Paul’s response. Here was a man who practically suffered the loss of everything including a marital life for the sake of the cross. Yet he said:“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulations, distress or persecution or famine or nakedness, or peril or sword? As is written for thy sake we are killed all day long we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
Now I want you to say along with me “For I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor heights nor depth nor any other creature shall be able to separate “me’ from the love of God which is in CHRIST Jesus.” Romans 8:35-39
THAT MUST BE OUR RESPONSE
Abiodun John Adeniyi