DISCIPLESHIP - A QUESTION OF COMMITMENT

LUKE 14:25-35

It has become customary in certain Christian circles to speak of discipleship as something that, while good and desirable, is not necessary to Christianity. This teaching is one that says sanctification is optional to the Christian life and that there are some who live their entire lives as "carnal Christians" and who never exhibit any of the fruit of the Spirit or any growth in Christ, yet nevertheless are saved.

The teaching of the Scriptures is completely antithetical to this view. The Scriptures use the term "disciple" as an exact equivalent of the term "Christian." This is seen in Act 11:26 where the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

What is a disciple? The term is translated from the Greek word mathetes, a "learner" and comes from the word manthano, "to learn." But the idea here is not merely rote learning of fact. As we shall see in this passage, the discipleship to which Jesus calls men and women involves a life commitment.

 

THE COMMITMENT OF DISCIPLESHIP

Now great multitudes were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 26 "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple." (Luke 14:25-26).

This is a hard passage. If you read this and it does not bother you, you havenít read it. For Jesus to say these words would be blasphemy if He were not God. He demands to be the center of attention and the object of complete loyalty.

Does Jesus really and truly call us to hate our family? No. To the contrary, the Scriptures are quite explicit when they tell husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25); mothers to love their children (Titus 2:4); and for children to honor father and mother (Ephesians 6:2). Indeed, we are even taught to love our enemies and those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44).

So then what does Jesus mean when he says that those who wish to be He disciple must hate father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters?

Before we answer that, take note of the setting in which Jesus spoke these words. It was at a time when great multitudes were going along with Him (14:25). There were a great many people who had come to Jesus and they had come for a great many reasons. Some were merely curious. Others wanted to see a miracle. And perhaps some had heard of His feeding of the 5000 and were looking for a free meal. The point is that they had come for many different reasons and they were not necessarily committed to following Him. A lot of people think that they are Christians because they are going along with Jesus. But you donít follow Jesus by merely going along with Him.

It is in this setting that Jesus turns and addresses the crowd. They might have been anticipating that He would pronounce some blessing upon them. After all, they had come to see and hear Him. What more would He want? They must have been quite surprised to hear His charge.

This is a figure of speech. Jesus is calling for a commitment that is so great that anything by comparison will be deemed as hatred. This is in contrast to the parable in the previous verses where one of the invited guests declined the invitation because he had recently married a wife (14:20).

Do you want to be a disciple of Jesus? You must give Him preeminence. You must recognize His sovereignty and His Lordship. You must give Him your devotion and your love.

 

THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP

There is an old saying that goes: "Anything that is free is worth what was paid for it." This even applies to our salvation. While it is freely given to us, it was the most expensive gift ever given. It cost God the death of His Son. In a similar vein, there is a cost to discipleship.

  1. The Cost of a Cross: "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple" (14:27).
  2. When we hear the reference to a cross, we are perhaps inclined to think in stained glass terms. There was no religious significance as yet attached to the cross when Jesus spoke these words. Any reference to a cross would point to death. Putting these words into todayís language would contain references to seating yourself in your own electric chair or tying your own hangmanís noose. Here is the point. When Jesus calls a man, He calls Him to give his entire life.

    The issue is one of loyalty and commitment. Jesus is really saying the same thing that He introduced back in verse 26.

    Follow Jesus

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    Over family members (14:26)

    Over your own life (14:26)

    Jesus calls for a level of commitment and loyalty that surpasses any you have for your family and even that which you have for your own life.

  3. Counting the Cost: "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ĎThis man began to build and was not able to finish.í 31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks terms of peace" (14:28-32).

Jesus has just made a very strong statement that discipleship involves a willingness to come and die. This is a great cost. Jesus goes on to picture this willingness with two illustrations.

First Illustration

Second Illustration

A man building a tower

A King going to war

Before he lays the foundation, he considers whether he has the resources to complete the project

Before he encounters the enemy, he considers whether his forces will be able to outnumber the enemy

The point of these two illustrations is the same. It is that you are called to count the cost of discipleship and to make a determination as to whether you will see it through to the end.

This is quite different than the easy-believism invitation that suggests that you "give Jesus a try" in much the same way that you test-drive a sports car. Jesus says, "Only come if you are going to come for keeps."

Evangelists often come across as a used car salesman: "Donít read the fine print; weíll get to that later." But Jesus tells unbelievers to count the cost before coming to Him.

Jesus calls you to recognize Him as the Lord of your life. He wants it all. He refuses to be sectored off to a small portion of your life. He refuses to be a weekend God. And so, He calls for you to count the cost. If you are going to be a Christian, be a real one.

There is a familiar story told of Alexander the Great. After each battle, there would be a tribunal where he would sit in judgment to reward those who had done well and to punish those who had done poorly. One day a young man was brought before him who had shown fear in the face of the enemy.

For the first time that anyone could remember, Alexanderís face softened and he appeared to show compassion for the youth. Perhaps he thought of his own infant son as he looked upon the young man. In a gentle voice, he asked him, "What is your name?"

"Alexander," came the reply.

"What did you say?"

"Alexander."

With a roar, the king jumped from his throne, took the shaken youth by his cloak and hurled him to the floor. "Either change your actions or change your name!"

When we come as disciples, we come to take the name of the King. We are called to count the cost of bearing that name.

  1. The Question of Possessions: "So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions" (14:33).

There is an old hymn that says, "Jesus paid it all." There is a great truth to that. The debt of your sin was paid by Christ on the cross. The payment for that redemption price cost Him His very life. He gave up all for you. And He calls you to do the same thing. He calls you to give up everything you have and everything you are and to commit your very being to Him.

At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, "I want to follow Jesus but Iíve asked myself if I have the resources to see this through to the end and I donít know that I have what it takes." There is hope for you. The point is not that you are rich in spiritual resources. The point is that you give up what you have and He provides what you need. You give up that which is producing death in your life and He gives that which is life eternal. You give up that which wars against your soul and in its place He gives that which saves your soul.

The issue is not how spiritually strong you are. Rather the issue is whether you will realize and accept your spiritual bankruptcy and will determine to receive and rest solely upon the riches of Christ.

 

THE CONFIRMATION OF DISCIPLESHIP

"Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? 35 It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear." (Luke 14:34-35).

The theme has not changed. Jesus is still talking about discipleship. But He now does so through the illustration of salt. Salt was a valued commodity in the ancient world. It served for a variety of uses. It was a purifier. It was a preserver. But the only use that is mentioned in our passage is its use in seasoning food.

Jesus elsewhere says that we are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). We have been sent out to provide a seasoning for the kingdom. We are salt on the sacrifice. We are not the meal -- Jesus is that. But we do have a role to play in seasoning and in glorifying our Lord.

We call ourselves Christians. We label ourselves as salt. But the true test of salt is not whether it resides in a saltshaker. The true test of salt is whether or not it is salty.

How can salt become tasteless? How can salt lose its saltiness? There is only one way of which I am aware. It is by being diluted with other elements.

How do Christians lose their salty quality? I believe that one way is when they dilute their desire to follow Christ by attempting to hold onto the things of the world. There is a contrast here.

Examples of One who has not counted the cost of discipleship

The man building a tower who does not finish it

The king going to war who is overwhelmed by his enemy

The salt that loses its saltiness and is only fit to be thrown out

There is nothing more useless that salt that is not salty. It is only fit to be thrown out and discarded. That is the picture of the person who says that they are going to follow Jesus but who does not follow through on that commitment.

Have you counted the cost? Have you determined to follow through to the end, to be salty salt? You call is to hold to a faith of the heart, not merely of the attendance role.

Jesus calls you to do that which He first did on your behalf. He put you before...

And He calls for you to do the same.


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