The Cost and the Reward

The Costs Of Following Jesus Are Far Outweighed By The Rewards

Dan Franklin
Aug 13, 2023    44m
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We all want to know what something is going to cost before we make a decision, this includes deciding to follow Jesus. In this message, we learn that the costs of following Jesus are far outweighed by the rewards. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Jack Franklin: [00:00:19] Good morning, my name is Jack Franklin. I am a student at EXIT83, and a volunteer at Life Kids. Today's passage is Matthew chapter 10, verses 32 through 42, “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. 34“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to turn“ ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law- 36a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. 40“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” This is God's Word.

Dan Franklin: [00:02:02] Amen. You can grab a seat. So about a month ago, Karina and I got away for a weekend, just the two of us, and I was sort of in charge of trying to plan things out. And so one of the things that I was doing in preparation for it was I was trying to look up online a couple of restaurants that we might be able to go to during the time away because we were going a little bit out of town. And it's great, you know, this didn't used to be the case, but now online you can go on and you can find out all sorts of things about restaurants in a certain area. So I was looking at sort of the ambiance of the place, looking at the location, and most of the places have their menus online too. Which is great because you can go on, and so it's like you got everything there on the menu, you can look at the starters, you can look at salads, main courses, desserts, drinks. Frequently, though, with the online menu, even though they have all those elements, there's one thing missing, yeah, some of you know, the prices. Frequently, with the online menu, they do not want to let you know the prices, and this drives me crazy that they do this. I'm just like, all right, this is nice, it's nice that I can look at the restaurant and find out there are things that we can all want to eat there, but I need to know how much this is going to cost. I need to know, are we in a situation where this is within our budget or where it's outside of our budget, but they don't want to let you know in advance. They want you to get there without knowing how much it costs. And by the way, I am aware that there are certain restaurants that if you go to, they'll hand you a paper menu and prices won't even be on that. What I've heard is if you have to ask, you can't afford it, and that's not the world I live in. But I know that I'm not alone in this, for pretty much all of us, when we are about to make a decision, we want to know how much it's going to cost us. This is the way we are with money, this is the way we are with time, like if you're getting asked to maybe volunteer for something at a school or with a sports team or even here at the church, one of the questions you're probably going to ask is, well, what is the time commitment? When am I expected to be there? I just need to know what it's going to cost me before I make my decision. We all want to know what it's going to cost before we make the decision.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:31] This morning, we're going to be talking about the cost of following Jesus. You probably heard it as Jack read the passage that, that is the theme of this passage in Matthew 10, what is the cost of following Jesus? Another way of putting this is what do we stand to lose when we follow Jesus? And one of the many things that I love about Jesus is that he is not a slick salesman. We've all interacted with people that sort of any time you're asking about price, any time you're asking about cost, they find a way to divert the conversation. They're just playing up all the benefits and they want to hide the fine print of all of the cost. Jesus is not like that, in fact, there are times when the way that Jesus interacts with potential believers, you almost want to send Jesus to an evangelism class. You are like this is not how you do this; Jesus doesn't seem interested in closing the deal a lot of the time. He would rather have somebody walk away knowing the cost and choosing not to take that cost than to fool somebody into following him. Jesus is not interested in hiding the cost.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:50] In fact, there's another passage apart from this one where he literally says, "Consider the cost before you come to follow me." And so today, in particular, in this passage in Matthew 10, which if you're not already there and you have a Bible, you can turn to Matthew 10. If you're using your phone as a Bible, you can turn to Matthew 10. In this passage, Jesus is going to talk about three losses that at least to one degree or another, we will suffer if we choose to follow Jesus. But here's the news that you need to know, and here's what we're going to see each step along the way, just as Jesus is being real about the fact that there are real losses when we choose to follow him, Jesus is going to not allow us to forget that what we gain far outweighs what we lose. Jesus is going to say, count the cost, but then he's going to remind us that the cost is always worth it.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:50] Now we're going to go through Matthew 10, the last 11 verses in the chapter verses 32 through 42. But let me just let you know about the chapter as a whole, because we've been in this series through Matthew, we're now doing a passage per chapter and we're doing the end of this passage because all of Matthew 10 is one unit. It's all one story, and it's a story about Jesus sending out the 12 Apostles to go and spread the message about him.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:15] So toward the beginning of the passage, Jesus gives some very specific instructions that are really just for the 12 for this specific journey. Like he says, all right, don't go to the other nations, just go to the people of Israel. Obviously, later on, he expanded that, and they went to everyone. But for this one, he says, no, we're just focusing on the Israelites with this one. He says, don't take a money belt and just go ahead and stay with whoever's going to take you in. Sometimes in the future, that wasn't always the way it works, so some of these are specifically about this missionary journey.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:46] Then as the passage goes on, he sort of broadens it out to talk not only about this specific journey for the 12, but about future journeys that they'll go on and the sorts of things that they should expect. And a lot of what he warns against is the idea that not everybody is going to like you, not everybody is going to receive you. In fact, sometimes you might even be dragged before magistrates, but don't worry, God is going to tell you what to say in those situations.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:13] Then when we get to our portion of the passage, he broadens it out even further. Now it's not even just about the 12, and it's not even just about first-century Christians, and it's not even just about missionaries and people who go about specifically spreading the message. What we get to focus on today in these last 11 verses applies to every Christian at every time. It's him giving us instructions about what we can expect to incur as losses if in any time in any place, we are choosing to follow Jesus. And like I said, there are three losses that he wants to warn us about.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:50] The first one is in verses 32 and 33, and it's the loss of approval, specifically the loss of approval of other people. Here's what Jesus says, he says, “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven." So he sets up the two options, the two possibilities, we acknowledge Jesus, or we disown Jesus. And so the scenario, this is not actually a super active scenario that he's painting for us. He's not painting this scenario where he's saying, hey, if you don't get up on the mountaintops and proclaim me, you're disowning me. This is more of a passive scenario, it's actually a little bit more like if somebody asks you. If somebody asks you, are you a Christian? If somebody asks you, do you love Jesus, do you follow Jesus? Do you think Jesus is Lord? Do you think Jesus has been raised from the dead? He says, if that happens, you acknowledge me; your other option is to disown me. And we don't even have to get that creative to think of a scenario where this might happen, because in Matthew 26, this happens, right? Peter is given the opportunity to acknowledge Jesus before other people, and instead, he disowns him three times. He's asked point blank, are you a disciple of Jesus? And three times he says, no, I don't even know him.

Dan Franklin: [00:10:28] Quick side note here, because some of you are like, all right, well, Jesus says in verse 33, if you disown him before others, he'll disown you before the Father in heaven. So is he saying that Peter is out, like, I'm going to go to heaven and Peter's not going to be there? Well, I think it's possible that in the first century, people wondered like, how does this all shake out with Peter because he publicly disowned Jesus? And there's a passage at the end of the Gospel of John that I think one of the reasons it's in there is to help solve this problem for us. Some of you know this passage, it's a strange but beautiful passage where it's just Jesus and Peter, they're talking together, this is after the resurrection. And Jesus asks Peter a question, those of you that know the passage, what question does he ask him? Yeah, he asks, do you love me? How many times does he ask Peter this question? Three times. Three times Peter was asked, Do you know Jesus? Do you know Jesus? Do you know Jesus? He said, no, no, no. Three times, in a way of restoring Peter and offering forgiveness and restoration, Jesus asks, do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? And all three times Peter says, yes, I love you. Yes, I love you. Yes, I love you.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:41] It's not Jesus not taking seriously the disowning, but it does tell us something. Maybe as you're reading verse 33 and you're a little daunted, Jesus is not saying if you ever once chicken out, you're done. Peter chickened out, and he wasn't done. But Peter then went on to live a life where his entire existence acknowledged Jesus before others. And that's the key phrase right there before others. It's easy for us, especially in the United States, to get into our heads that my religion is nobody else's business. Like my faith in Jesus is just between me and Jesus, and nobody else needs to know about it. In fact, sometimes we do things that make it easier to think that that's the case. I'll say, we've done this here in our church where sometimes we'll be inviting some sort of response to Jesus and we'll say, all right, everybody, close your eyes; everybody bow your heads, and now if you want to sort of respond to this thing that I'm telling you, just go ahead and look up at me nobody else needs to know. And I get why we do that; I'm not even saying that it's wrong to do that because sometimes we want to remove distractions if we're having a moment to respond to Jesus. But the downside of doing that is that we can end up communicating that your faith in Jesus, nobody else even needs to know about it. Like you can be a Christian, and nobody ever needs to find out about it. And Jesus says that is not the case, you are called to acknowledge him before others.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:12] Jeff was talking about baptism when he was up here giving the hosting time, we're going to have a baptism in a few weeks. Baptism is a public proclamation of faith in Jesus. Even if you don't say a single word in your baptism other than yes when you're asked about if you have faith in Jesus, you are publicly proclaiming through that act your faith in Jesus. And first-century people knew that they would lose the approval of certain family members and friends if they publicly proclaimed their faith in Jesus, and you will too. Not everybody, but you will lose the approval of certain people if you choose to follow Jesus and if you choose to acknowledge him before others. And that's no fun, nobody likes to be disapproved of by other people. But I think with acknowledgment that this isn't scientific, but I think with acknowledgment, we might be able to think like, all right, maybe there's three levels of what it means to acknowledge Jesus. And level one is the one I just talked about, kind of the most simple level. If you're asked point blank, you say, yes, I'm a Christian. Yes, I love Jesus. Yes, I follow Jesus. Yes, I think he's Lord. That you just don't deny it, that's like the basic level of acknowledgment.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:31] Level two of acknowledgment might be where people can look at the way that you're living, and they can pick up. yeah, he acknowledges Jesus, and she acknowledges Jesus, not just in word, but the life reflects the life of somebody that's taking Jesus seriously and following him. Like they're a part of a church because that's what you do when you follow Jesus. They're in the fight against sin because that's what you do when you follow Jesus, and they're generous with their money. So they can see it in your life, that's level two of acknowledging Jesus is yeah, your life reflects the life of a follower of Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:59] Level three, and this might sound funny when I say this, level three is that you actually believe what Jesus says. I don't know if you've noticed this, but in 2023, in the United States, most people are not going to suddenly disapprove of you if you just say that you're a Christian. Because they're hoping that your Christian who doesn't actually believe what Jesus says, that's our culture's favorite kind of Christian. They're like, you're a Christian, that's fine, but you don't actually believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven, right? And we're like, yeah, that's what he said. Like, all right, it's fine that you're a believer in Jesus, but you don't believe that, like, sex is supposed to be saved for marriage. And we're like, yeah, we do, we take Jesus seriously. Well, you believe in Jesus, but you don't believe in, like, hell and judgment and all that kind of stuff. And we're like, Yeah, Jesus talked about all of that. If you just say, in our culture, I'm a Christian, people will probably pat you on the back and say, that's fine for you. It's when you actually start taking him seriously that you lose people's approval. And Jesus says, you need to be prepared if you're going to follow me, not everybody, but there are people whose approval you will lose if you acknowledge me before others.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:22] Now, here's what I don't want us to miss, though, because this is a real cost that Jesus is laying out, but I don't want us to miss something that Jesus says back in verse 32. In verse 32, he says, what's going to happen to people who acknowledged Jesus before others? Those who acknowledge Jesus before others, Jesus says, "I will acknowledge you before the Father in heaven." Which, first of all, again, this is Jesus here in his earthly life. Jesus clearly thinks he's pretty important because he paints a picture of the final judgment and he's like, my opinion is really going to matter in the final judgment, and I will acknowledge you before the Father.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:05] And this isn't a perfect picture that I'm going to paint, but here's the picture that comes to my mind when I think of the idea of Jesus doing this. Think of when you started high school. For some of us, we're like, it's going to take you a minute to remember. For some of you, you're like, that was last year. For some of you, you're like, that's still in the future, but then maybe just think of when you're first starting at a new school. Man, when you first started high school, it can feel daunting. You can feel like I'm smaller than everybody. Am I going to be accepted here? What are they going to think of me? Am I going to be welcomed in? It can be a really daunting experience, and you can feel a lot of insecurities like, will I be welcomed here? Will I be picked on? Will I be ostracized? What's going to happen? So imagine you're walking in for your first day of high school, and you're going through all those insecurities, you're going through all of those wonderings. But there's one fact that you know, and that one fact that you know is that you have an older brother at that school. And that older brother is pretty popular, he has some status, people respect him, and people listen to him. And as you're walking into that school and certain about your place and uncertain about whether you'll be welcomed, your brother in front of everybody else says, hey, they're with me. She's with me. He's with me. They belong with me. And suddenly, you know, everything's going to be all right.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:27] And imagine us thinking about eternal life, and we're like, well, I don't know, am I going to be welcomed? Like, I've sinned a bunch of times. And, you know, Jesus is talking about sometimes we chicken out, sometimes I've chickened out, sometimes I've been really lazy. I haven't been as generous as I should be. Am I going to be welcomed in? And then imagine the idea of our great older brother, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the eternal Son of God looks at you and says, they're with me, she's with me, he's with me. Not because you haven't failed in your life, but because you're with Jesus. The cost of losing the approval of others is very real, but, you know, one day all the comments on social media are going to be gone. One day, every celebrity in our culture is going to be forgotten. But the eternal Son of God will say of you they're with me. The cost is great, but the benefit far outweighs it.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:29] But Jesus has another loss that He wants to tell us about, and this one goes in verse 34, and this is the loss of harmony. The fact that if we follow Jesus, we're going to end up in conflict with others. And he says in verse 34, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." I don't know, does anybody feel like scratching your head right now as you hear Jesus say this? You're like, somebody get Jesus a Christmas card, like, he did come to bring peace. If there's anything we know, he did come to bring peace. He said he came to bring peace, and the angel said he came to bring peace on earth, what in the world is Jesus talking about?

Dan Franklin: [00:20:08] And it's absolutely true, Jesus did come to bring peace in certain ways that we're thinking of. He came, most importantly, to bring us peace with God, because his sacrifice on the cross covered all of our sins. And we have peace now within ourselves because we know God is working all things together for our good. So there's a sense in which Jesus came to bring peace, but there's another sense where he's saying the kind of peace you might have in mind, don't expect that if you follow me.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:35] He does this pattern, which Jesus clearly, he loved to do this pattern of saying I've come not for this, but for this, because he does it at least four times just in the Gospel of Matthew alone. Way back in chapter 5, verse 17, he said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." Not this, but this. In our passage last week in chapter 9, verse 13, he says, "For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” And later on in Chapter 20, Jesus says, Just as the Son of Man (speaking of himself" did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” This is how Jesus loved to talk in this way about his mission, and here he does it again in verse 34, where he says, "I didn't come to bring peace, but a sword." Not harmony, but conflict.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:33] And he explains more about what he's talking about in verses 35 and 36, where he quotes from the Book of Micah in a situation where there was great turmoil going on amongst the Israelites, and he says this applies to the situation with Jesus. He says, "For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household." And so he paints a picture here, this is like a household of five is what he's painting. So you've got mom and dad, an adult son, an adult daughter, and then the adult son gets married, so the daughter-in-law is in the picture, so it's this kind of family unit of five. And Jesus says, but the sad thing is, in this family unit of five, it's two against three and three against two, they're divided, people are in conflict with each other. Son, with father, daughter with mother, daughter-in-law with mother-in-law." Some of you are like, that's not that amazing that a daughter-in-law would be in conflict, but you know, either way, this is a divided family. And Jesus is not relishing this, he's not like, I can't wait to divide families. The best situation is that an entire family would all be trusting Jesus and following Jesus. But what Jesus is saying is people are going to make a decision about me, and in some families, it's going to be split down the middle. Three are going to be following, two won't, two will be following, three won't, and there will be conflict over this.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:57] And once again, some of you are like, there shouldn't be, like family shouldn't divide over religion. If you follow Jesus, there will be conflict with people in your life that don't follow Jesus. It doesn't mean that you can't find a way to still coexist productively, it just means there's going to be drama. Although, again, I'll say not necessarily if you just become a Christian, although there are countries today where if you just become a Christian, you will be disowned from your family. It's unlikely to happen in the US, but it could. But for most of us, the problem is not going to be just saying I am a Christian, the problem is going to be if you suddenly start living like Jesus has called you to live, if you actually take him seriously.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:45] If you end up in the situation, which some of you have, where you're like, all right, with my adult children, I'm kind of having to tell them now, hey, I can't control what you do, but you don't get to do that in our house when you live with us. Some of you have had awkward conversations with Grandpa because Grandpa is kind of racist and you're just not turning a blind eye to it anymore, and suddenly your faith in Jesus is causing conflict with people in your family. Jesus isn't saying he wants this to happen, Jesus is saying this will happen in families. And if we're shocked by this today, if we're like, how could this happen today? Family is so important. This was more shocking in the first century, because in first-century Israel, your family was your identity. It was your place in the community, to lose family was to lose everything. We live in a culture where we're like, we move away from family, we're autonomous family units, that wasn't the case in first-century Israel. So when Jesus says you might lose your family, that cost is high. Jesus is calling us to risk something that none of us want to actually have to happen. And again, my prayer would be that it wouldn't happen in our families, that we all would follow Jesus. But Jesus is also letting us know that we need to get ready for this. And sadly, in many families, this will be what happens, at least to some degree, it's a loss, and it's a real loss.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:15] But once again, within the gospels, there are hints of Jesus giving hope within this potential loss. Throughout the New Testament, when it refers to our relationships with each other as believers, as members of the same church. How is that described? What are we? You know, we're brothers and sisters with each other. And sometimes somebody will say that to me, somebody will say, it's so good to see you, brother. And some of you are like, ah, that's weird. It's actually not weird, it's biblical, we are brothers and sisters in Christ, we are family in an even greater way than our blood relatives are our family. In fact, Jesus had an experience where he illustrated this for himself. If you were to flip two chapters after our passage, you would get to Matthew 12. And at the end of Matthew 12, there's just a five-verse story that involves Jesus and his family. And Jesus is teaching a group of people in a house, and his mother and his brothers, they come to get him. And the implication is that they're looking at Jesus and they're like, Jesus has lost it. He has lost his mind. He's thinking that he's somebody really important. He's saying crazy things. He's got delusions of grandeur. We need to go get Jesus. And so people in the room who were with Jesus, they say, oh, your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to talk to you. And Jesus responds by saying this, "Who are my mother and my brothers? And then he looks at his disciples and he says, here are my mother and my brothers, those who keep God's word are my mother and my brothers." If you have had family conflict over your faith in Jesus, I want you to know that Jesus had family conflict because of his identity. And Jesus identified believers as a truer family to him than even his brothers or his mother. Nothing I could say could take away the sting and the pain of what you're experiencing if you are experiencing estrangement from family members because of your faith in Jesus. But what I want to make sure that you don't miss is that you have been welcomed into a forever family. Now, if you're looking around at this family and you're like, I don't know, that that's okay, God's working on all of us right now. God has given us a forever family that he is still perfecting. You have brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, grandpas and grandpas, and cousins, you have a family of fellow believers who will be with you and who share with you the most important thing about you, which is your faith in Jesus. Jesus says you might lose family over this, but you will gain a forever family that will never be taken away.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:06] Jesus says, get ready for some losses. Get ready to experience the loss of approval and get ready to experience the loss of harmony. And there's one more starting in verse 37, where he says, get ready to experience the loss of control. And by control, what I mean specifically is the autonomy to make your own independent decisions about your life because now Jesus is in the driver's seat. Jesus says, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." Twice he uses the phrase not worthy of me, and he's going to use it again in verse 38. What Jesus is saying here is basically you can't be my disciple, this won't work, and you can't follow me if you love your father and mother more than me or your son or daughter more than me. He is obviously not saying don't love your father or mother or your son or daughter, he wants that love to be strong. What he's saying is your commitment to me has to be greater than even your commitment to them. Because if in one form or another, your parents say, hey, it's us or Jesus, it's Jesus. Some of you have experienced some form of a son or a daughter coming to you and saying like, hey, it's either me or Jesus. And you got to say it's Jesus. I love you; I don't want anything to happen in our relationship, but I love Jesus more. This is a reference back to what he just talked about in verses 35 and 36.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:36] And he ratchets it up even more in verse 38, he says, "Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me." You can't be a disciple of Jesus unless you're willing to take up your cross. And this is the first mention in all of the Book of Matthew to the Cross, it's the first time it's been brought up. It won't be until chapter 16 that Jesus predicts his death on the cross. But here he first references something that everybody would have been familiar with, and that's that sometimes Romans crucified people, and it was a horrific way to die. And if you were headed towards an execution by crucifixion, you carried your cross to the spot where they were going to kill you. Jesus says, if you're going to follow me, you better be ready to go to your death.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:27] Now, I'll say it again, if we're just talking about ourselves, the United States right now, in 2023, if you're like, I want to come to faith in Jesus, but am I going to be martyred? The answer is probably not, it's most likely no. Think things could change, even now, there could be martyrdom and things could change where that would be more common, it's not likely to happen to us. What's much more likely to happen to us is that we would experience losses that would feel like many deaths.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:00] Oh, by the way, there are places in the world right now, I was talking to Hunter, our outreach and college pastor, earlier this week, and he was just talking about people that when he was overseas that he was looking to lead to Christ and they were counting the cost by saying, if I come to faith in Jesus, my family may kill me, like I may die, it's real life and death for people. It could be life and death for us, but for us more likely it's going to be losses that are going to feel like death, and its loss of control over my life.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:31] And then in verse 39, Jesus says, one of my favorite things that he's ever said, I love this verse, it's so amazing. He says, "Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." And here's the picture that Jesus is painting, the person who finds their life is the person who decides, hey, you know what? In this life right here, I'm going to be as comfortable, as prosperous, and as joy-filled, and as safety-filled as I can possibly be, I'm going to look to find my life right here. And Jesus says, if you do that, you'll lose your life for all eternity. But whoever loses their life for the sake of Jesus, whoever says I'm not so attached to this world that I'm not willing to suffer losses, he says that's going to be the person that finds their life.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:24] And there may be some of you in here today, I don't want to assume that just because you're in a church building that you're a Christian, Maybe some of you in here today where this is the battle that you're going through right now, you are trying to decide whether or not to become a Christian. You're like, do I place my faith in Jesus? And what Jesus is saying to you is, hey, you can white knuckle it and you can hold on to your life right now and you can hold on to at least an illusion of control over your life right now, if you do, you will lose your life for all eternity. But if you're willing to trust Jesus, if you're willing to lose your life right now, you'll gain your life for all eternity. But this doesn't just apply to coming to faith in Jesus, this applies to every single one of us. If you are a new Christian, if you're a seasoned Christian, wherever you're at, there is probably something going on in your life right now that is some step of faith that God is calling you to and you kind of want to do it and you kind of don't want to do it. You're looking at it and you're like, that seems dangerous, I could suffer loss if I do this. Like some of you right now, there's a person in your life that God is clearly calling you to reach out to them with the Gospel. And you're like, that's really scary, I'm not sure I want to do that. For some of you, there are financial decisions that God is calling you to be more generous or have more integrity with money. And you're like, I'm not sure I want to do that, the cost is high. For some of you, there's an area of sin that has just been defeating you and God is clearly calling you, you've got to bring in somebody to this, you've got to talk to a pastor, you've got to talk to a Detour group leader, you've got to talk to a small group leader, you've got to talk to somebody to get help with this. And you're like, I don't know, that's costly. For some of you, it might even be what we were talking about earlier, it might be baptism, that you're like, I feel like Jesus is telling me to get baptized. I'm not sure I want to do it. Or I feel like Jesus is calling me to actually get involved here at this church, other than just coming on Sundays, I'm not sure I want to do it. There is some step of faith, and here's what it feels like when we have these potential steps of faith. It's like we're on the edge of a cliff, we're standing right here, there's a cliff beneath us, but there's more land on the other side. And we are being asked to go from this side to the other and risk falling down on the cliff. And we're standing on this side and we're like, well, you know what I also could do. I also could just stay right here. Why even try it? There's a risk, I could fall down, I could get hurt, I could die, why take the risk when I can just stay here on the safe side? But what Jesus is saying is, what we don't realize is that the safe side is not actually a safe side. The safe side is crumbling underneath our feet and will soon be gone.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:04] In First John chapter 2, John talks about the idea that the world and all that the world values is passing away. We're over here, we're like, I'm going to stay safe on this side. You are not safe on this side. If you stay on this side, if you find your life on this side, you will lose it, you will be at the bottom of that pit because the ground is crumbling underneath you. Your only chance is to be willing to lose your life to save it. Your only chance is Jesus is on the other side, holding out his arms, saying it's going to be all right, go ahead and step over here, go ahead and jump to me and I will catch you. And we look at that, and we're sort of like, maybe I will die, maybe I will fall, maybe this won't work out. And what I want to say is that you're right, maybe it won't, that's a real possibility. This is faith, we're taking a risk here. Maybe Jesus won't come through for you, maybe he won't work out everything for your good. Maybe this won't all be rewarded in the end, maybe you're right, and maybe you will fall. But Jesus has shown enough miracles, especially the resurrection, to show he's definitely able to save you. And Jesus has shown enough love, especially through his death for all of us, to show he wants to rescue you. So we're looking across this cliff at the most powerful, most loving being in the universe. And we're saying, what if we fall? And you're right, it's possible that you'll fall, but if you don't take that step of faith, you will 100% fall. If you want to find your life, you have to lose it now.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:45] Now, like I said, verse 39, I feel like it's one of the greatest things Jesus ever said. This feels like a walk-off moment right here where it's, like, that's a good line, a good way to end a speech, you should walk off the stage right there, you just end it on a high note. This is like Martin Luther King Jr. with his I Have a Dream speech, "Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last." And then he's like, one more thing and we're like, no, no, no, that was good, end there. I feel like we want to say this to Jesus right now, this is a good line, end there. If I was the editor of Matthew, I would have this passage ending here. But I'm not the editor of Matthew, and there's three more verses and we're like, why is he still talking? This is the verse you should end on. Jesus is smarter than I am, there's a good reason why these verses are in here, and I want to show you because there's a cool bonus that we get through these verses’ verses 40 through 42. Jesus says, "Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” Now, why is Jesus saying this? Why does he tag this on?

Dan Franklin: [00:38:07] Now remember what this passage is all about, it's about 12 guys going out to spread the message of Jesus. And Jesus has already told them it's not always going to go well. There's going to be people that reject you. There's going to be people that throw you in prison. Some of this is going to go badly. Some of this is going to involve rejection. But he ends with these three verses in order to tell them sometimes it's going to go badly, but you know what, sometimes it's going to go great. There's going to be people who reject you, but there's going to be people who welcome you, and they're going to welcome you in the name of Jesus. And that's just like if they welcome Jesus, and they're going to welcome you like a prophet or like a righteous person, like somebody coming to spread God's word. And by doing that, they're going to get a reward. And you know what? Some of them are going to show you just the basic hospitality of an arid place like first-century Israel, and they're going to give you a cup of cold water and even that is going to be a reward. Here's what Jesus is doing, and this is why I think this is so important. I don't think I'm alone in the fact that when God is calling me to a step of faith, it is easy for me to imagine about 1700 ways that it could go badly. Most of us are really good at this, we can imagine all the ways that that step of faith can end badly. And Jesus is like, you're right, sometimes it will end, at least in the short term, it will end seemingly badly. But he also wants us to imagine all the ways that it could go wonderfully. Some people are going to reject you. Some people are going to welcome you.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:38] Do you know what this is a reminder of? This is a reminder that while it's totally valid for us to consider the cost and what we may lose, wouldn't it be great if we also spent some time considering what we might gain? Some of you right now are like, I can imagine 1500 ways that it goes badly if I talk to my friend about Jesus. What if they don't want to talk about it? And what if they do want to talk about it, what might happen then? I want to invite them to church, but what if they say no? But man, what if they say yes? What might God be up to there? Well, with this area of sin, if I confess it to somebody, if I tell somebody, what if they totally reject me? Man, what if they totally welcome you with God's grace and then you're more confident in God's love for you because you experienced that love through someone else? What if we spent just as much time imagining all of the amazing things that God can do through our steps of faith instead of only imagining the way that things could go wrong? Jesus isn't hiding the cost, Jesus isn't hiding the risk, it is real. But as much as we're considering what we stand to lose, we should be spending time thinking about what we stand to gain.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:57] Now, here's what we're going to do in the last part of the service today. In a minute, the band is going to come out and they're going to lead us in a song that feels very appropriate to this message, it's a song that invites us to come to Jesus. Which again, for some of you, this might be the real deal, this might be the day that it's like, it's time for me to come to Jesus and put my faith in him for the very first time. And for some of us, maybe it's not that, maybe we have come and put our faith in Jesus, but it's time to come to Jesus in the sense that we're going to come to him and obey him in a hard area of faith that he's calling us to. It's time to come to Jesus and trust him with our money. Come to Jesus and trust him with our finances. Come to Jesus and trust him with our family relationships that are strained because of our faith in him. Come to Jesus and trust him with that step of evangelism or generosity or whatever he's calling us to, to come to him and take that next step of faith.

Dan Franklin: [00:41:52] We're going to get a chance in our hearts to respond to that through this song. But there's also another element, and that's with our prayer team, pastors, elders, and prayer team members, go ahead and come to the front right now and go to either side of the stage as we get ready for this time. Because sometimes there just is the sense of us saying, hey, right here in your seat, you can respond to Jesus in your heart as we sing this song, and you can commit to him, hey, I am going to do what you're calling me to do. But there's something powerful that happens when we involve another person in this when we're bold enough to say, I want you to pray for me because I've got a next step of faith and I'm pretty sure I'm going to chicken out. Like right now I feel like I'm definitely going to do it, but I'm going to walk out those doors and I'm going to forget that I ever decided to do it. So during this song, at any point, you don't have to say anything, you don't have to make a big deal about it, you can just get out of your seat, and you can come to one of the people up here. And you can do any one of these things, you can get up and say absolutely nothing and just go to them and they will pray for you. God will lead them in praying the right thing. You could go to them, and you could just start praying yourself for the thing that's on your heart and they will join with you in that prayer. You could come up, and you could briefly describe to them, here's what's going on, and here's the step of faith that I need to take, and they will join you in that prayer. But there's something about us in our physical bodies making a movement, deciding to come to Jesus that helps solidify that commitment in our hearts. So now is the time where we want to invite response in our hearts, and also for many of us, with our bodies and with our footsteps, where we want to say we trust that what we will gain through following Jesus will always overshadow whatever we may lose.

Dan Franklin: [00:43:37] So as we prepare to do this, let me pray for us. Father, thank you so much that Jesus did not hide the cost. He doesn't want to trick us. Thank you for those who have gone before us, who have suffered loss for following Jesus, and who have shown us that every step of faith is worth it. And Father, I pray that you remind our hearts right now not just of what we may lose in following you, but of what we stand to gain in following you. Move in our hearts by your Spirit right now as we respond to you. In Jesus' name, Amen.



Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848