The Cost of Discipleship
Luke 14:25-33 (ESV)
25 Now great crowds accompanied 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. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
V25: “Christianity” CAN draw crowds
- People can easily see the appeal of Christianity (community, eternal life in heaven, love, etc…) but don’t always want to accept ALL aspects of Christianity (taking up your cross, sacrifice, etc..). Christianity can seem very accessible, as we see a ‘great crowd’ following Jesus. But perhaps Jesus is ‘weeding out’ the crowd, sifting out those who are not willing to do what it takes to truly follow Christ.
V26: Do we really need to “hate” our own family?
- Discipleship is serious business. Jesus is using hyperbole, a purposeful exaggeration in order to make a point. Your love for Jesus should be so complete and wholehearted, that your love for your family would pale in comparison. In some contexts, allegiance with Christ warrants severed relationships. We must be willing to make that commitment, that nothing would stand between you and Christ.
V27: Whoever does not bear his own cross cannot be my disciple
- This is hardcore. Does this mean i have to be crucified? Well, in a sense, yes. Your own sin has been crucified with Christ. But this goes a little deeper. Jesus is not talking about a general participation in suffering, or in bearing the problems and anxieties of daily experience. Instead he is making a clear reference to martyrdom. Unless people were prepared to become martyrs they couldn’t be his disciples (Sproul, A Walk with God: An Exposition of Luke). Our allegiance to Christ needs to outweigh everything else. What are we willing to give up for the sake of Christ? Our time? What about our money? Family? Your own life?
V28-32: Counting the true cost of Discipleship
- “Jesus uses two different circumstances to illustrate his basic point: discipleship requires a conscious advance commitment, made with a realistic estimate of the ultimate personal cost. The practical nature of the circumstances Jesus so vividly pictures underlines the fact that Christian discipleship is not some theoretical abstract ideal, but hard reality” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary).
- “Sit down and count the cost; consider it will cost the mortifying of sin, even the most beloved lusts. The proudest and most daring sinner cannot stand against God, for who knows the power of his anger? It is our interest to seek peace with him, and we need not send to ask conditions of peace, they are offered to us, and are highly to our advantage” (Matthew Henry). The true cost of fellowship with Christ includes letting go of the sins we love most. The secret sins that we hold near and dear must be released. It is in our best interest to let go of those sins and to cleave to Christ.
- What is your initial gut-feeling when you hear this word, ‘renounce’? I get a knot in my stomach. I really have to give everything up?
- “His thought probably is that of abandonment of things, yielding up the right of ownership, rather than outright disposal of them. The disciple of Jesus may be given the use of things in trust, as a stewardship, but they are no longer his own. The present tense implies that what Jesus requires in relation to possessions is a continual attitude of abandonment.” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary)
- The true heart behind stewardship is that we are not the owners. Rather, God is the ultimate owner, and we are caring for what He has entrusted to us.
- I think this mindset makes life a whole lot easier. There’s less pressure on what “I own and can accumulate.” Or, what if I lost everything in a house fire? If I know God can provide these things because he owns it, why do I worry? Why do I fear losing what I have if I know God can provide it again? Or if it’s in HIS best interest that I lose or gain. Remember, it’s God who gives and takes away. It’s his stuff, not mine. Yielding ownership of your possessions may open doors for further discipleship and service to the Church. Less concerned with me, more focused on Christ.
- Many of us would listen to a sermon on this passage and think, “yeah! Ill give up anything to follow Christ!”… We often think about physical possessions such as our cars, houses, or vacations. But how many of us think about our bank accounts? Do we take into account the financial impact of discipleship? (tithing, offerings, missions, special giving, etc…)
- How important is following what the Scriptures lay out about money, finances and possessions to you?
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