Being a True Disciple (Luke 14:25-33)
Jesus sincerely wants people to come to him for salvation. Matthew 11:18. Matthew 22:4. Revelation 22:17.
Coming to Jesus is the wisest decision one can make. God will forgive his every sin. God will begin to hear and answer his prayers. God will write his name in the Book of Life and promise him a home in heaven.
Many want us to believe that coming to Jesus is a rather simple matter. “All you need to do is attend worship on Sunday mornings and you’re a Christian.” “All you need to do is be baptized and you’re a Christian.” “All you need to do is oppose false doctrine and you’re a Christian.” “All you need to do is not commit any really big sins and you’re a Christian.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In order to come to Jesus, we must . . . .
Despise, vv 25-26
Great multitudes were following Jesus. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, and these multitudes were going to Jerusalem with him. They probably hoped to have a part in the earthly kingdom they thought Jesus was going to establish. These crowds probably thought that they could receive all the benefits of the kingdom without changing. They thought that all they had to do was show up and they would be part of his kingdom.
But, in order to be Jesus’ disciples, these multitudes needed to hate. They needed to hate those dearest to them–father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters. “Hate” here is used in an exaggerated sense. Jesus does not mean that we should literally hate our families, for he taught otherwise. But, Jesus means that we need to value him more than we value our family (Matt 10:37). When we turn our back on our family for Jesus, it appears as though we hate our family, and our family often thinks that we do hate them.
Jesus must be more important to us than our family. We must do what he requires regardless of what our parents or spouse or siblings think. Our families may try to discourage us, but we must be determined to do what Jesus teaches.
They needed even to hate their own lives. They were not even to value their own existence more than Jesus. If they needed to die in order to be faithful, they would need to die.
We can value nothing in our lives more than we value Jesus. Matthew 6:33–Jesus must be first in our lives.
Die, v 27
One man said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
Jesus told the multitudes that they needed to bear their cross. This was a graphic picture to Jesus’ audience. They had seen men carrying their crosses to their death. The Romans forced criminals to bear their own crosses as a sign of submission to the Empire. The criminals knew they would never be back; they were on a one-way trip.
The crowd needed to bear a cross. When we speak of bearing our cross, we seldom, if ever, mean what Jesus meant. We say that we are bearing our cross when we suffer some disability, some difficulty in our family, some time of unemployment, some burden we must bear. Yet, those who heard Jesus would never have envisioned this meaning–to them a cross meant submission and death.
The cross is a sign of submission–we need to put our lives under Jesus’ authority. Luke 1:38. The cross is a sign of crucifying our own desires–we must be willing to give up our own desires in order to follow Jesus. We must put an end to our own desires and give them up in order to do what Jesus wants. Romans 8:13. Galatians 5:24. What desires have you given up for Jesus?
Deliberate, vv 28-32
The crowds needed to stop and think before they came to Jesus. Jesus uses two parables to make this point.
The parable of building a tower.
Before someone starts building a project, he stops to see if he has enough money to complete it. If he doesn’t count the cost, he can only lay a foundation–he can start the project, but that’s all he can do; he can’t finish it. People then begin to ridicule him–they mock him for his ignorance.
The parable of the king going to war.
Before a king goes to war, he decides whether or not he has enough men to win. If he doesn’t, he makes peace. It would be foolish for him to go to war if he couldn’t win.
Jesus’ point is that these multitudes needed to stop and think before they came to Jesus. We need to stop and think before we come to Jesus. Jesus doesn’t have any room for backsliders. Luke 9:62. Hebrews 10:38.
We, too, need to think. Are we really ready to give up our sin? Are we ready to give up ourselves? Are we ready to put our all into serving Jesus? What will you decide?
Desert, v 33
Jesus told the crowd that unless they forsook all that they had they couldn’t be his disciples. Jesus’ point is that we must give up the right to ownership of what we have. “Things” cannot be more important than Jesus. The desire for a nice bank account, nice house, nice cars, nice clothing, and the like cannot be more important than Jesus.
We must give up all to follow Jesus. We have been called upon to do so. Mark 10:28. Philippians 3:8.
A veteran was introduced as having lost his right leg in the war. The veteran said that was a mistake. He said, “I lost nothing in the war. I gave my leg.” What have you given to Jesus?
Being a Christian is far from the easiest lifestyle. In fact, it is rather difficult.
But, it is the best lifestyle. In being a Christian, we can rest easy knowing that our sins are forgiven, we can rest easy knowing that we have a home in heaven. Are you a Christian? Are you ready to make the commitment to come to Jesus?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Owingsville church of Christ in Owingsville, Kentucky.