LUKE 14:25-27: “Now great crowds were traveling with him. So he turned and said to them: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, 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.” CSB
OBSERVATION: What is the cost of discipleship? It is interesting that we don’t talk much about the concept of discipleship in the church. We speak of making disciples. However, most of the time we think of simply leading someone to believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. Yet, in the New Testament, and to Jesus, the issue was not simply believing, it was becoming a disciple.
These three verses in Luke are some of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible. Some will view them as offensive, as they ponder Jesus’ call to hate his own father, mother, wife and children. And others will view them as merely a tactic of Jesus to shock his hearers. Yet, if we look closely at these verses, and the examples that follow, we will see that it was all about counting the cost of discipleship. What is the cost of being a true follower of Jesus Christ?
The context of this teaching is Jesus addressing a large crowd that was following Him. Why were they following Him? They had seen Him heal the sick, cast out demons, and feed the hungry. They were in line for their blessing. They desperately wanted a Messiah who would reestablish their nation’s sovereignty, and who would provide them with all they desired. It was in this setting that Jesus made His call to discipleship clear.
Jesus called them to hate everything else, including themselves, before they would follow Him. It is important to note that Jesus included oneself in the list He is identifying as those who are to be dismissed in place of being His disciple. The word “hate” in the Greek is translated as – “…to detest (especially to persecute); by extension to love less…” (Strongs). So, in essence, Jesus was not calling them to hate others and things, but to love them less than they loved Him. He was calling them to the First Commandment!
- “Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. Do not have other gods besides me.” Exodus 20:1-3 CSB
The crowd was not seeking Jesus for forgiveness or salvation. They were seeking Jesus for the benefits He could provide. And Jesus made it clear, His call meant relinquishing everything, taking up one’s cross, and following Him. This is the true definition of discipleship. It is counting the cost of self denial before beginning the journey of discipleship. It is a strong call. However, it is the only call that leads to eternal life. In the New Testament it is antithetical to believe and not to follow. You cannot be a disciple and still hold on to selfishness and the things and values of this world.
These verses do not mean that everyone who becomes a disciple must quit their jobs, sell all their possessions, and live the life of a monastic hermit in the desert. This does not match the Biblical record, or even the life of Jesus Himself. However, it does mean that we must be willing to lay down anything that Jesus calls us to lay down. We must be willing to forsake everything, including family, possessions, and most importantly our own plans and desires, as we answer the call to discipleship!
What I have found is that the Lord usually does not make someone quit their job and go to the mission field. He might, but most of us are called to follow Him in the calling and locale that we find ourselves in. Yet, we are also called to have no other gods before Him. We cannot worship God and the pursuit of money and success. We cannot claim to be a disciple and walk in unforgiveness and selfishness. We cannot hold tightly to the things of this life at the same time we are holding onto our cross!
- “In the same way, therefore, every one of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple. “Now, salt is good, but if salt should lose its taste, how will it be made salty? It isn’t fit for the soil or for the manure pile; they throw it out. Let anyone who has ears to hear listen.” Luke 14:33-35 CSB
Lord, this morning, help me to honestly search my heart. Am I counting the cost of being Your disciple today? Am I seeking You simply for who You are, and not for what You can give me? Is my life an example of true worship? Lord, grant me the grace to love everything less than I love You, including myself.
In Jesus Name!