LUKE 14:33: “In the same way, none of you can be my disciples unless you give up everything.” GW
OBSERVATION: Do we really have to give up everything to follow Jesus? When I read this verse I am both convicted and challenged. Surely Jesus cannot mean what is appears He is saying. This is really more than I bargained for. This is so much more than what is commonly preached today. I have often thought of this verse and wondered if the rich young ruler, whom Jesus turned away because he was not willing to “give up everything”, would be turned away from any of our churches today. Rather, I think the rich young ruler would be ushered into a seat of prominence and given a position of the church council!
The context of this statement was the parable of the great banquet, and the illustrations of counting the cost before building a tower or going to war. In each example there were those who were not willing to abandon what they were doing, or to count the cost of what they were about to undertake. The result is they were excluded from either entering the banquet or from experiencing the fruit of their labor. Jesus’ summary in between these two examples is even more sobering. Jesus said,
- “If people come to me and are not ready to abandon their fathers, mothers, wives, children, brothers, and sisters, as well as their own lives, they cannot be my disciples. So those who do not carry their crosses and follow me cannot be my disciples.”. Luke 14:26-27 GW
So what did Jesus mean? Surely He is not asking everyone to sell all they have and become a missionary or itinerant preacher. What does it mean to abandon all, pick up our cross, and follow Jesus? It speaks to the issue of Lordship. It is the call to decide who will be the center of your life. If we are going to be followers of Jesus there must only be one center of our life. It is not our family, it is not our possessions, it is not our occupation, and it is not ourselves. It must be Jesus Christ our Lord, and Him alone!
For years I believed in Jesus Christ. I believed He died on the cross, and that He rose again the third day. However, I was living as the center of my own life. I had never surrendered my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. When I knelt down on the floor of my apartment as a 17 year old young man, and cried out to the Lord, for the first time I asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life. It was then that I discovered what it truly meant to be Born Again. Paul writes in the Book of Romans,
- “However, what else does it say? “This message is near you. It’s in your mouth and in your heart.” This is the message of faith that we spread. If you declare that Jesus is Lord, and believe that God brought him back to life, you will be saved. By believing you receive God’s approval, and by declaring your faith you are saved. Scripture says, “Whoever believes in him will not be ashamed.”. Romans 10:8-11 GW
I had believed in my heart, but I had never declared that Jesus is Lord – of my life! When I did this my new commitment was put to the test. I quickly learned that I needed the power of the Holy Spirit to walk in this new commitment. One by one, Jesus began to deal with the areas of my life where I was still trying to retain the throne. And as I yielded these areas to His Lordship I discovered something wonderful. Whenever Jesus asked me to give up something – He always filled that empty place with something much better.
The Lord asked me to give up some friendships that would have kept me walking away from the Lord. The Lord added new and wonderful friends into my life that loved the Lord and helped me in my new found faith. The Lord asked me to give up my aspirations of becoming a broadcaster, and called me into the ministry. I resisted this one for quite some time, but when I finally surrendered to His call, I found such great peace, and I entered into my eternal destiny and creative purpose.
The list could go on and on. Whatever Jesus asked me to give up to follow Him, He always abundantly filled with something of the Kingdom. I was never left wanting. I was never disappointed. I have learned that Jesus is not calling us to forsake all because He wants to take away from our life. Jesus is simply wanting to fill our lives with His life, but He cannot do that as long as we hang onto the clutter of that which is passing away!
There is one final section of Scripture that really encapsulates this truth. It is found in Psalm 37.
- “Trust the LORD, and do good things. Live in the land, and practice being faithful. Be happy with the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Entrust your ways to the LORD. Trust him, and he will act ⌊on your behalf⌋. He will make your righteousness shine like a light, your just cause like the noonday sun.”. Psalms 37:3-6 GW
When we forsake all for Jesus when we trust the Lord, when we give our all to Him – we discover the true desires of our heart! This is what Jesus desires to bring to each one of us. If we insist on clinging to the things of this life, if we insist on being the lord of our own lives, if we stay in the center, we will never experience this. However, if we forsake all, yes even our own lives (wisdom, dreams, desires) – He will fill this with the true destiny of our creative purpose and the unknown, but perfect desires of our heart!
Jesus be the center of it all!
In Jesus Name!