Sermon Notes

The Cost of Desiring God


  • In my initial years of ministry among the youth of this city, especially in my college, one of the most repeated and common topics that I used to speak on was on the ‘cost of discipleship. Inspired by the sermons I heard during that time, and a serious introspection into my own life, I could see how easy it was for us to speak of something such as faith when we really knew nothing about it.
    • Surprisingly, more often than not, my words were not received with hostility but rather a mix of excitement and indifference. They were either drawn to the raw reality of what it meant to be a Christian, or they were simply confused and unsure on how to process this truth.
    • My constant effort was to show that faith is not about an intellectual position that you agree upon, but a true conviction that you believe in. That belief propounds the promise of a cost that we will incur.
  •  The Bible portion in front of us is, as you can see, a portion on the cost of discipleship. However, I’ve titled my sermon – the cost of desiring God.
    • The reason I use the phrase ‘desiring God’ here, is to remind us that discipleship is not a program, but a lifestyle. It is not a call reserved for pastors, but the responsibility of every church member. It isn’t mere dutiful obedience, but an honest and joyful desire at pleasing God.
    • Therefore, this cost that is incurred to us in following Jesus is not one that we carry out of duty, but love. We pay the cost of discipleship for the love of God and His glory.
  •  We all like to consider ourselves cost bearers for believing this Gospel but that is not the case for many. This cost is not the cost of disobedience, but obedience. It is not the pain incurred by our foolishness, but our wisdom. It is not the price of doing the wrong things, but the price of having stood and fought for the right things.
    • It has been my experience to this day, that many people attribute their pain and suffering to the cost of discipleship when in reality it has nothing to do with it. So many times, these pains that people claim as a cost are things they brought upon themselves unnecessarily.
  • So, what is the cost of desiring God?



  • The apostle Matthew, in this chapter, recounts to us the miraculous works of Jesus and how the people responded to them.
    In the first series of miracles, we saw the leper, the centurion’s servant, Peter’s mother-in-law, and many others who were sick and demon-possessed were all healed by the authoritative will of Jesus.

                    ‘He took our illnesses and bore our diseases’, quotes Matthew, from Isaiah.

    • Now, each of these miracles are loaded with theological substance, that speaks about the nature and character of God, and each set of miracles that Matthew recounts is followed up by the response of Jesus’ audience who were hearing and witnessing all that was being done.
    • And so, after the first series of miracles, Matthew recounts the following, starting from verse 18, 18 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. 19 And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 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.” 21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
  • v18 – 18 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side.
    • The common occurrence you see in this narrative is the repeated gatherings of a crowd, sometimes large crowds, whenever Jesus went about preaching and healing.
      They came to him in these numbers to hear the power of His words, a rabbi who spoke with an authority unlike any before Him, and to receive healing by the power of His hands.
    • Now, although such curiosity is not evil in and of itself, their ultimate desire was not for God, but to satisfy themselves. They wanted to benefit from Him. That is why we read in John 2:24-25 that …Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
    • Beloved, Jesus never satisfied the crowds. That was never his agenda. Although He had an affectionate nature toward them many a time, He never attempted at keeping or growing the crowd.
      • In fact, His words were often direct and provocative, that crowds would disperse, no longer wanting to hear Him.
        We read in John 6:66After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.
    • Ever so often, we tend to judge the effectiveness and outcome of the ministry of the Gospel based on the number of people. We incline ourselves to be crowd pullers and not crowd disturbers. We determine church growth on the basis of the number of members to be added tomorrow, rather than the effective spiritual growth of the few that are members today.
    • When Jesus saw a crowd, he gave orders to go to the other side. When we see a crowd, we give orders to have the other side come over to us. Because this is where the crowd is. This is the place of greater influence.
      • But Jesus was not blinded by such ambition. He knew what was in the hearts of all men. Therefore, so much of what He did provoked the crowd rather than satisfy them.
      • So when Matthew recounts that Jesus wanted to go to the other side, He is emphasising the fact that Jesus was not drawn to popularity or crowds.
    • If I may stay on this point a little longer to talk about the folly of many churches that have a confused priority on this issue. If we judged our ministry by the number of people coming to us, then our efforts will constantly be to keep those numbers up.And as a result, many churches shift their focus from pleasing God to pleasing their members.
      So many ministries and churches have such a crowd-centered approach to ministry that they often end up abandoning orthodoxy for cultural accommodations.

      • This begins to reflect on the nature of their worship, the content of their sermons, the priority of their spiritual service, and so on.
      • When I began preaching, a lot of people used to tell me that a sermon should at maximum be limited to 30 mins because the attention of span of people is short. But after a few months in, when I fall short from an hour to 45 mins at times, they now feel as though I hadn’t prepared well enough.
      • Now, don’t get me wrong beloved. There’s plenty that a church does to care for the needs and desires of the congregation, even at times to make them more comfortable. But that is not the central priority of Redemption Hill Church. It is to preach and teach the whole counsel of God’s word even if it is at the cost of the comforts of many. Everything else is only a supplement to aid this central agenda.
    • The one thing, therefore, that chokes any crowd-pulling strategy is a willingness to talk about cost, not comfort.
      The reverse is a corporate strategy. In a software company, the marketing team is on a mission to preach comfort to the clients so as to have them invested in the product before they talk about the cost.
      When you try searching for new houses or apartments, you do not see the cost upfront, instead, it is tugged away at the corner of a brochure or you have to register on their website so that their agent has a chance to evangelize the product to you before you get to the cost.
      The reason for this is so that a person who is well invested in the product will be willing to take the hit of the cost.But such is not the case with the Gospel.
      Sadly, churches today have more marketers than evangelists, sales representatives than preachers, earthly benefits than heavenly ones, and consumers than disciples.
      But, such is not the case with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 
  • v19And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
    • Ah! Here you go, the first customer knocking on the doors of the Gospel business. All of Jesus’ long hours of effort are finally paying off. This is good. God’s kingdom can now grow.Look at this man, he is a scribe. This isn’t someone who is foreign to the law of God, he is an expert of his time, in written documents. In Israel, a scribes’ duties included teaching, interpretation, and regulation of the law. But beyond all that, even after Jesus spoke against the Pharisees and Scribes for their unholy ‘holy-fying’ of the law, their hypocritical legalism, this scribe has willingly come forward to follow Him.And look at what he is saying, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” This scribe who is a teacher of the law is willing to become the student. One could see in this confession, a glad victory of the Gospel in bringing this scribe humbly to Jesus.

      Let’s welcome him with glad tidings Jesus, what say?

  • V20And 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.”
    • In what we would see as a wonderful response to Christ’s Gospel message, Jesus saw something different. He knew the heart of this man who seems to have skipped the cost of following Jesus.
    • Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests.
      As one commentator said, “the most despicable of creatures in the earth and air, were richer than [Jesus]”.The holes and the nests are homes to the foxes and birds. It is their place of rest, where they nurture their babies, sheltered against the dangers of this world.Yet the Maker of foxes and birds, the one who shelters them had no shelter for Himself.
    • The ‘Son of Man’ is a self-designation that Jesus uses of Himself often. As the ESV Study Bible helpfully points out, it is a designation indicating the true meaning of Jesus’ identity and ministry, as the humble servant, the suffering servant, and the glorious servant King.
      • Matthew 9:66 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”
      • Matthew 16:27-2827 for the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
      • Matthew 26:6464 Jesus said to him, g“You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
    • The cost of following Jesus is to be an heir to such servitude. It is not a pursuit of earthly pomp and glory, but one of humility and meekness.
      Luke 9:23-26And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
  • v2121 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
    • Here we have another disciple eager to follow Christ but prevented by his earthly responsibilities.And to him, Jesus says, “Follow me”.
    • The Bible is very clear about the fact that one must honor their father and mother, but the point of this text is meant to show us that the allegiance we have to Jesus transcends everything.As John MacArthur points out, this disciple stood to lose his inheritance if he did not fulfill his family rights toward his father according to the culture.Some theologians have pointed out that the burial referred to in this portion is what is called the second burial.

      Luke 9:23And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

      Luke 14:25-26Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.