LUKE 14:25-27: “Now great crowds were traveling with Yeshua; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters—and yes, even his own life—he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple.” TLV
OBSERVATION: What does it mean to carry my own cross? These words of Jesus, taken out of the context of His teaching, seem uncharacteristic of His love and compassion. His call must have seemed strange to a culture that honored the family, and that abhorred the cross.
The family in Jewish culture was held to be sacred. The fourth commandment was one that every Jew held and treasured.
- “Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long upon the land which ADONAI your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 TLV
What could Jesus have meant when He was calling them (and us) to hate our own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters – and take up our own cross?
Previously Jesus told the story of the the large banquet. The master planning the banquet sent out his slave to the guests invited, and each one of them began to make excuses why they could not come. Finally the master told the slave to go and invite all those who would normally be rejected, and to go into the highways and byways and invite all who would come, until the banquet was filled. This was the context of Jesus’ call to pick up the cross.
The key to understanding this injunction, which seems harsh, is the statement that is in the middle – “…and yes, even his own life.” The Jews were glad to listen to Jesus, to watch His miracles, to eat of the loaves and the fishes He miraculously multiplied, but they were unwilling to forsake all and follow Him. They were unwilling to count the costs of discipleship. And when Jesus mentioned the cross, which was a symbol of one cursed to a Jew, that was the last straw.
There have been many times in my life when I have faced this crossroad of counting the cost. As a young man, determined to enter the broadcasting field, I had to lay down my dream to follow God’s call to become a pastor. As a newly married man, fearing I would never have a home, I had to forfeit a deposit on a home as the Lord convicted my heart that this would become a hinderance to completing my education and following His call in my life. And, as I grew in the Lord, I had to learn how to lay down my pride, my self effort, and my impatience, among many other things, and die to myself so that Christ could live in me.
Paul knew what it was to count the cost of discipleship. Yet, when Paul compared the wonders of the benefits of the cross he joyfully counted everything else as loss.
- “For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship by the Ruach Elohim and glory in Messiah Yeshua and have not depended on the flesh— though I myself might have confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he might depend on the flesh, I far more— circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel; from the tribe of Benjamin; a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the Torah, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting Messiah’s community; as for Torah righteousness, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, these I have considered as loss for the sake of the Messiah. More than that, I consider all things to be loss in comparison to the surpassing value of the knowledge of Messiah Yeshua my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things; and I consider them garbage in order that I might gain Messiah and be found in Him not having my righteousness derived from Torah, but one that is through trusting in Messiah—the righteousness from God based on trust. My aim is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the sharing of His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death— if somehow I might arrive at the resurrection from among the dead.” Philippians 3:3-11 TLV
Much of what is called the Gospel today is simply an invitation to gain the whole world by adding Jesus. Yet, the true Gospel calls us to forsake the whole world to gain Jesus. This is the true essence of discipleship. It may seem harsh to some, but to those who have discovered the righteousness of God, the power of His resurrection, and the purifying of His sufferings in their life – it is a call and a cross to be cherished!
Lord, help me today to cherish Your cross, and to pick up my cross and follow You!
In Jesus Name!