Today we are going to look at what it takes to follow Jesus. The cost of making a true commitment. I find it interesting that this should be our reading today. I probably glanced at the heading yesterday, but didn’t really think about today’s reading beforehand. I say that it is funny because I almost skipped writing tonight because I got busy with other work. Today Jesus addresses our commitment to follow Him.
Part of Jesus message to us today is familiar. We have already looked at His statement about taking up your cross and following Him in Matthew, Mark and earlier in Luke. It is important enough that the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to write about it again. Unfortunately I feel tapped out when it comes to gleaning more from this section than we have already learned. For this part of Jesus’ message I’m going to link you to our earlier study of it in Luke. That post has links to the other two instances where we addressed this message. Please feel free to revisit The Daily Call.
Jesus had a lot more to say on this subject today, so let’s look at what else He shared. First we need to establish who He was talking to. Luke tells us that large crowds were traveling with Jesus. I wonder if this group waxed and waned. We were told that at one point He sent 70 disciples out to share His message. I have a feeling that this group was bigger than that, at least at times. We also know from other accounts that when Jesus taught very hard principals that many of those following Him left. But those with Him today were intent on becoming His disciples.
We don’t use the term disciple very often, except when referring to Jesus appointed twelve disciples. So what did/does it mean to become a disciple? I asked this question of Google and found a very good explanation at Inervarsity.org. I think they say it far better than I can.
This group of people were following Jesus to learn from Him and learn to be like Him.
In the very beginning of Jesus’ address to this group, He said something astonishing! “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” (verse 26). But I thought we were supposed to love everyone. I don’t want to hate anyone. My mom told me that when you hate someone it means that you wish them dead. I certainly don’t think Jesus was talking about that kind of hate. So what did Jesus mean by this then?
My bible helps say that the “hate” Jesus is talking about is a “Semitic expression for loving less.” In other words, loving mother, father, sister, brother, wife, children and self, less than we love Jesus. GotQuestions.org also gave me a very good answer to this question. I especially like the last paragraph in their answer:
“Jesus may have chosen the word “hate” to show us that this is how a mother or father will perceive the actions of a child who chooses the Lord above them. They will see it as disloyal, especially if we try to witness to them. The love of a Christian for a non-Christian is almost always seen as hatred, intolerance, bigotry, etc. But we must be okay with being seen as “hating.” After all, our unbelieving relatives are part of the world, and Jesus said, “”If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18).”
Jesus wants us to put Him FIRST. Above even our own life. This is what true discipleship means.
The illustrations Jesus uses are interesting to me. He talks about counting the cost BEFORE beginning the project. I certainly understand the importance of doing just that in the situations Jesus describes, but when you become a Christian there are a LOT of things you don’t know right away. Even Jesus’ disciples didn’t know the full cost of discipleship in the beginning.
I think the bottom line that Jesus is talking about in this passage is being willing to make a FIRM commitment to Jesus. Yes, there are things ahead that we won’t know about in the beginning. We will be asked to make sacrifices; some great and some small. We HAVE to value our relationship with Him above ANYTHING else, including our own life. We have to be willing to walk where He leads, no matter how hard that road becomes. Only then can we truly be His disciple.
Because we are human, we will fall short of this standard at times. The relationship we have built with Him will spur us to repent and return to Him again, just as David did after being confronted by Nathan. Nothing is more precious than our relationship with Jesus.
Lord Jesus, thank You for taking the time to teach me. Thank You for allowing me to become one of Your disciples; Your students. I want to honor You always in my daily walk. I want to be a living testimony of Your goodness and love. Help me shine Your love through my actions. Thank You for spurring me on to study Your word today. I could have so easily claimed I “didn’t have time”, but You encouraged me not to. Thank You for reminding me of the commitment I made to You. I want to honor that commitment more fully. Forgive me for when I let life get in the way. I want to give You highest priority in my life. Help me learn Your order of priorities. I want to be able to say I will abandon it all for the sake of the call.