Jesus is being followed by the curious rather than the converted.
He points out that you do have to make a commitment.
This is not a side-show..
So count the cost of throwing in your lot with Jesus.
This is the sort of sermon that we dare not preach in the established church today.
We do not ask for commitment and we do not ask people to count the cost.
We accept all comers and are grateful.
After all, is that not the loving way?
It is certainly a way that seems much more like that of Jesus
following Jesus's inclusive attitude in Mark (9:40)
" whoever is not against us is for us",
and with much else in his teaching.
Is this yet another example of how the emphasis of Christianity was changing
even during the period, or perhaps in the places, that the Gospels were being written?
In Mark's time, as in the time of Jesus probably, Christianity was grateful for any supportive action
They were a persecuted minority struggling to be noticed.
Maybe we are returning to that situation today.
By the time Luke wrote his account, congregations had grown.
To be a Christian had become a way of life for some, without the same level of commitment.
The congregation had attracted a periphery of the merely curious and of those hoping to benefit.
We can see the embryo of today's Rice-Christians, or the socially acceptable congregations of Victoriana
and we can see the frustration of the fired-up preacher with this "amorphous mass of lumpen faithlessness".
We can see that the sermon which Luke incorporated in his account could well have flowed
from any of those inspired first generation leaders, to the less-committed new-comers.
So maybe we have to ask:
Is Christianity an inclusive faith, absorbing and honouring the traditions of others,
Or is Christianity meant to be the exclusive, divisive, schismatic, individualistic faith
that has been developed over the centuries by the religious power-brokers
and that we see demonstrated in so many churches today?
Things have not gone that far, by the time of Luke.
But he is calling for some form of greater commitment,
to give up our old ways and focus on the teaching of Jesus,
or, as Jesus put it, to be born again into a new relationship with God.
A relationship which is thought through and deliberate
and takes precedence over all others.