The Gospel of Luke - Part 65: Commitments For Discipleship — Luke 14:25-27
(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)

Review:

A lot of people "dabble" at following Jesus, don't they? They go to church, maybe even plug into a Bible Study class, but are they committed to doing His will in their lives wherever they are, whatever they are doing, seven days a week?

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “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. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” —Luke 14:25-27
Crowds:Large crowds were traveling with Jesus . . .

There are more than thirty references to the words “crowd” and “multitude” in the book of Luke. Here are just a few of the references that have already been seen:

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. —Luke 5:15

He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon. —Luke 6:17

Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. Luke 7:11

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: —Luke 8:4

Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. —Luke 12:1

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: —Luke 14:25
We must not make the mistake of thinking that there were only a few people who were exposed to Jesus. Thousands and thousands of people heard His teaching over the course of His three-year earthly ministry. So what conclusions can we draw from the “crowds” of people that sought out Jesus?
  1. Crowds aren’t bad in themselves.

    Some people seem to equate large churches and large ministries with shallow teaching or a compromised message. But that is not necessarily so, is it? Certainly Jesus never “watered down” the Gospel! Jesus attracted multitudes, taught multitudes, and fed multitudes. This was an important part of His ministry.


  2. Crowds aren’t always good, either.

    But crowds of people aren’t always a reliable measure of the blessing of God. Crowds also respond to false teaching, don’t they? Crowds of people favored the crucifixion of Jesus. Sometimes cults (like the Mormons or Scientology) attract great crowds of people.
But Jesus knew that many of these people didn't really understand what it meant to be His disciple. Jesus never lowered His standards to increase His numbers. At times the Lord wooed men to Himself, but then after they began to follow Him, he winnowed them

1.   Come To Christ (14:26):

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 14:26
If — implies a condition; also implies uncertainty; Jesus is emphasizing that each of us must make a choice to do or not do what He says here.

Anyone — The invitation to be His disciple is made to everyone: male or female, rich or poor, educated or uneducated. Anyone can choose to be Christ’s disciple.

Comes — What do you think the Lord means when He says that we must “come to Him”?   Maybe the meaning here is to seek Jesus out, to be intentionally seeking Him. Maybe He’s saying that discipleship starts with a desire on our part to be His disciples.

To Me — Discipleship means we come to Jesus. The focus is on Him, a Person, not on churches or denominations or human leaders. Paul emphasized this when he said:

For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. —2 Corinthians 4:5


Consider: Dallas Willard (pastor, author and philosophy professor at the University of Southern California) writes,
Churches today are full of people who haven’t been invited to become disciples. Being a Christian has come to mean going to church and being saved when you die. The ministry of the church is given over to “making the final cut” and solving problems (marital problems, witnessing problems, apologetics, pain and suffering), not to discipleship.
“In the New Testament, discipleship means being an apprentice of Jesus in our daily existence. A disciple is simply someone who has decided to be with another Person in order to learn to do what that Person does, or to become what that Person is.”   —from “Apprentice To The Master” (article), Discipleship Journal, Issue #107
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ”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 14:25-26
Jesus often states a principle in a startling way to make us think.

Hate — How can Jesus, who emphasized love as the primary distinguishing characteristic of His followers (John 13:34-35), tell us to hate anyone?

In order to grasp what Jesus is saying here, we need to understand a couple of important truths:

  1. Jesus never contradicts Himself in His teaching.

    Since Jesus often spoke of the important of loving people we can be sure that He does not mean for us to literally hate our families.In truth we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:32) and we can not love each other too much. We can focus on our family, our spouse, or dote on our children too much, but we can not love them too much. Note that in the final clause He states , “hate ... even his own life”. Clearly, he would not advocate the destructive loathing of existence.


  2. Jesus often used hyperbole in His teaching.

    Jesus often used hyperbole (exaggeration) in His teaching to emphasize a particular truth:

In Matthew 10:37, Jesus states the same truth in a way that may be easier for us to understand: "Those who love their father or mother more than they love me are not worthy to be my followers. Those who love their son or daughter more than they love me are not worthy to be my followers." Jesus expects His disciples to love Him and be committed to Him above all other relationships. This doesn't mean I stop loving my family. In fact, the more I love and obey Jesus, the more I will become a better father, a better husband, a better son. But it also means I obey Him even when it offends my family.

Application:

Is there anything you know Jesus wants you to be doing that you are not doing for fear of offending parents or spouse? We fell short when we spent more time in the car in one day shuttling between games and lessons than we did in a month praying for them.

2.   Carry Your Cross: (14:27)

Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. —Luke 14:27
Think of what the cross meant to Jesus. It meant subordinating His desires to His Father's will. Jesus didn't want to die on the cross but He did it out of obedience to His Father (Mark 14:35,36). Carrying our cross daily (Luke 9:23) means the same thing — that we live, not according to our desires or preferences, but according to His will. It means making decisions not just on the basis of what I feel like doing or want to do, but according to Jesus' will, Jesus' values, Jesus' purposes. This is what Paul was saying in Galatians 2:20:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. —Galatians 2:20
Note:   This is the second time in Luke that Jesus has talked about carrying your cross being an essential part of discipleship. The first reference is found in Luke 9:
Then He said to them all: “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” —Luke 9:23
Here are some thoughts from the teaching notes on that verse:

Consider:   “To take up the cross meant to carry your own cross to the place where you would be killed. Many Galileans had been killed that way by the Romans. Applied to the disciples, it meant to identify completely with Christ’s message, even if it meant death.” —Life Application Bible, Teaching Notes on Luke 9:23

Consider:   “A cross is the willing sacrifice of everything one has, including life, for the sake of Christ. It is something that, like the Lord Himself, a believer must take upon himself.” —John MacArthur, Matthew 8-15 Commentary, p.233.

Voluntary: This is an important point: talking up your cross is voluntary; it involves a choice on our part, for the sake of Christ and His work in the world.  We often hear of some physical hardship or difficulty as being “a cross I have to bear”. But that isn’t what Jesus means. He’s not talking about hardships that come to everyone in the course of life; He’s speaking of the hardships we accept and endure for the sake of Christ, those that come because we choose to follow Him:

Application:

What's one area of your life where you need to start making decisions on the basis of God's will rather than your own desires or preferences?

Consider:

Martin Luther King: "Christianity has always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear. To be a Christian one must take up his cross, with all its difficulties and agonizing and tension-packed content, and carry it until that very cross leaves its mark upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way which comes only through suffering." —from Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew, p.122

3.   The conditions of discipleship:

C.S. Lewis states:

The Christian way is different . . . Christ says, “Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there. I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think, innocent as well as the ones you think wicked — the whole outfit.”
Discipleship requires everything.

Next Week:

We will attempt to Calculate the Cost of being a disciple of Jesus.