“So then any of you who does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33 [AMP])
In Luke 14:26-33, Luke wrote of Jesus speaking to the crowd who followed Him. Jesus spoke about what a person must do to be His disciple. The things Jesus said a disciple must do sound harsh-hate your mother, father, wife, husband, children, and yourself (vs. 26-27). When one looks at the original text, the intention is that you love Jesus more than these. Put your relationship and devotion to these people in your life lower than your devoted love to Jesus. Jesus said His followers must persevere, carry his or her own cross, and follow Him. He spoke to the heart of people in this part of His teaching.
These sound like difficult, negative things. How can Jesus speak about hating people when He loved humanity enough to die for it?
In verses twenty-eight through twenty-nine, Jesus said a follower who doesn’t count the cost of following Him is like a man who began to build a farm building but ran out of funds. He said people would mock and ridicule this man for not counting his cost well enough to see if he had the funds to pay for the building (Luke 14:29-30). Jesus spoke to the pride, the emotions, of a person in this part of His teaching.
This, too, sounds difficult. No one wants people to ridicule or laugh at them. So many people considered Jesus to be a cult leader and when He died, the people would point fingers at His followers and laugh at them for being gullible. How could Jesus stand up to this ridicule Himself as He faced religious leaders and others wherever He went?
In Luke 14:31-33, Jesus used the idea of one king confronting another in battle. He said His followers need to count the cost by preparing and understanding they and their personal resources are less than God’s. One king realized he had half the soldiers the other king did. When this realization came upon him, he sent an envoy to seek the terms of peace. A person’s resources end at death. God’s resources continue throughout eternity. If a person begins to follow Jesus but not with his or her whole being, then he or she wasn’t a true believer at all. That person’s resources will end; whereas, if the person was a true believer, he or she would have had access to the greater King’s resources and would have gained righteousness and eternal life. Jesus spoke to the mind and spirit of a person with this part of His teaching.
A follower of Jesus is not just one who physically follows today and tomorrow, but next week has another leader or another plan. A follower of Jesus is one who counts the cost, the cost of loving Jesus more than anyone or anything one has whether family, self (heart, soul, mind, and body), or possessions. Jesus compared the fickle follower to unsalty salt. Salt keeps its flavor when undiluted. Comparatively, followers of Jesus continue to follow Him when they do not seek to add other things to their lives and so dilute the teachings of Jesus and their devotion to Him. Jesus said to these people, “Salt is good, but if salt has become tasteless (bland and flat), with what will it be seasoned?” (vs. 34 [AMP]) If salt has lost its strength and become flat, how will its saltness be restored?
Being a follower of Jesus requires a commitment of heart, soul, mind, and strength. It’s not just a physical (bodily) following of Him by going to church on Christmas and Easter, or for those who are more “religious”, every Sunday morning. It’s a daily devoted following of Jesus by going to your quiet place, giving your heart to God each day, humbling yourself by recognizing your feebleness and sinfulness, supplicating for forgiveness, and recognizing who God is, His greatness. It is a moment-by-moment seeking God’s will and plan for each event that happens in your days and years. This is loving God with your whole being-heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30).
Jesus taught in the Sermon on the mount, “First and most importantly seek, aim for, and strive after His [God’s] kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right], and all these things will be given to you also.” (Matthew 6:33 [AMP]) When we seek His kingdom and His righteousness, we seek God and His attitude and character. We are enabled to love Jesus more than our family members. We’ve counted the cost and know we are unable to finish the task, but the Master has all the resources we need to finish the building. We recognize our finiteness in time, power, and strength and recognize God’s omnipotence (power). With God’s strength, we can do anything. We can continue walking in the ways of Jesus. We continue to think of honorable and right things. We have pride in Jesus and not ourselves-who we are and what we can do. We recognize the greatness of the salvation Jesus gave us and don’t take it for granted. Jesus paid the ultimate price-His life.
With this understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, devotedly loving Him with our heart, soul, mind, and strength more than ourselves, our family and friends, and our things, we can persevere resolutely, carry our cross determinedly, and follow Jesus persistently. With this mindset, we can join Joshua and say as he did in Joshua 24:15,
“If it is unacceptable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live, but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” [italics added for emphasis, AMP]
Lord, I find myself wanting to falter in following You. I come to a point to make a decision and I want to take the easy way. Often that means not following You. Please forgive me for my laziness and disobedience. Forgive me of making myself my own god. After each time I choose my own way, I realize my sinfulness and insufficiency then I remember Your righteousness and greatness. Lord, I do not deserve Your love and forgiveness and I am humbled each time You give these to me. You are so much greater than I could ever think or imagine myself to be. You are almighty and awesome, and I am feeble and disappointing. Thank you for Your forgiveness. Thank you for your devoted love. Thank you for continuing to call me to follow You and for your strength and resources to do that. I renew my commitment to follow You with the strength of Your power. I commit to take up my cross, forsaking all I have and all I love, to follow You. Amen.