Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Cost of Discipleship

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).

As Jesus traveled to Jerusalem, a large crowd followed Him. At one point, Jesus turned to the crowd and warned them that there was more to discipleship than being enamored with Him and His works. He said it was necessary to hate one’s own family, even one’s own life, in order to be His disciple (Luke 14:26).

These words shock us, and they are meant to. As a teacher, Jesus used hyperbole to make His points. It is proper to say, based on Jesus’ teachings about love, that He was not saying that we are literally to hate our families. Rather, that next to our love for God, what is left over for others should by comparison be hatred.

Jesus clarified His meaning with another scandalous statement: “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (v. 27). Hating one’s life means, in part, being willing to carry the cross. We often think this means putting up with the woes of daily life, but that is not what Jesus meant. Rather, He is making a clear reference to martyrdom. If you are not willing to be a martyr, you cannot be Jesus’ disciple.

Jesus underscored this by warning the crowd to count the cost. “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” (v. 28). If he starts but cannot finish, he will be ridiculed.

Then Jesus gave a second comparison: “Suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with 10,000 men to oppose the one coming against him with 20,000?” (v. 31). The point is, if you take on such huge projects, you will have to give up everything else. “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (v. 33).

Jesus rightly called men and women to drop everything and follow Him. That call is still valid today. In our materialistic society, we become attached to many “things.” Recall a past experience where you failed to fully count the cost and had to live with the consequences.