This morning’s sermon outlined the cost of true discipleship in Luke 14:25-35. The need to consider the cost in advance (vv.26-27) sounds like Jesus is trying to put people off following him, but he wants us to understand what we are about to face, since assessing that enables us to prepare and be ready to succeed. Accepting the invitation of Christ is a delight, but there is a cost – this isn’t an offer of cheap grace.
Jesus outlined 3 conditions for following him.
Condition 1 – hate your own flesh and blood
David stressed that it’s important not to take this teaching out of the context of the rest of scripture. Elsewhere we are told to honour our parents; husbands are commanded to love their wives like Christ loves the church; and Jesus loved kids and blessed them and said we should be more like them in order to inherit the kingdom of God. Jesus told us to love one another, as this would show us to be his disciples. A command for blanket hatred of those closest to us doesn’t fit with teaching in the rest of scripture.
Therefore, David asked: what does ‘hate’ mean here and how would those who heard this passage spoken for the first time have understood it? We understand hatred to be an emotion, but this isn’t what is intended in v.26. The word refers to ‘primary allegiance and commitment, loyalty, preference’. Jesus is to take primacy over our family and ourselves. It is ‘in comparison’ to Jesus they must take second place – we love and live for him first and foremost. This primacy is echoed elsewhere in the New Testament. Unless we are prepared for this, we cannot be a disciple.
Condition 2 – carry your cross
If you were seen carrying a cross in the New Testament culture you were a dead man walking, as you were on a one-way journey to your place of death. Jesus is calling his disciples to lay down our lives. Discipleship is a process of perpetually dying, as we need to surrender daily.
C.S. Lewis puts it like this:
The cross is the symbol of our salvation as well as the pattern of our lives.
Condition 3 – give up everything
Where your treasure is, there your heart is. It’s not a vow of poverty, but about yielding everything to God as the rightful owner. It’s about open-handed generosity and holding lightly to material things.
The cost of discipleship is high, but the cost of not being a disciple is higher.
Salt is a stable compound, so it can’t lose its saltiness as such (v.34), but it can be diluted. In the same way our passion for Jesus can be diluted over time.
Some questions to think about:
- Are we willing to subordinate everything – including our own flesh and blood?
- Are we willing to place every other relationship in second place?
- When we look back, is our passion today the same as it was when we first began?