Theme of the Week: Meeting the Confused
Bible Verse: “In the same way, therefore, every one of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:33 CSB
Scripture Reading: Luke 14:25-33
I think I heard sermons on these verses at least once a year when I was a teenager. Taking up the cross, counting the cost, making sacrifices, being willing to suffer—these were frequently repeated themes. When I left high school, one of the few openly Christian teachers gave me Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s famous book, The Cost of Discipleship. Who could forget its most famous sentence? “When Jesus calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
But I can’t remember when I last heard a sermon on 14:25-33. Books on the cost of discipleship appear infrequently. At the same time, as the years have passed, only a minority of books have focused on the meaning of the cross for the Lord Jesus or its significance for us.
Do you think, perhaps, that these two things stand or fall together? There is certainly a lot of talk about “discipleship” but not so much about the meaning of Jesus’ death or about carrying the cross. There seems to be more emphasis on “being taught” than sacrificing, on doing rather than suffering, on knowing how to order your life better rather than being willing to go anywhere and do anything for Christ.
That, after all, is at first glance (and maybe tenth glance too!) a more attractive message. It is likely to draw more people into the Christian crowd.
We tend to be much more impressed by crowds than Jesus was. The principle he lays down is this: following him must have absolute priority in your life. In fact, if you don’t hate father, mother, wife, children and your own life, you cannot be his disciple.
Notice that Jesus isn’t saying that without this radical commitment you can still be a decent, but not a really great, disciple—he says that you can’t be a disciple at all.
And if you have heard people say that “hate” here simply means “love less”, forget it. It is much more radical than that. What Jesus is saying is that by comparison with your devotion to him, all other loves must seem like hate—and that includes your natural love for yourself. He is calling us to “die” to everything we count dear in our lives.
This is why he went on to talk about taking up the cross and following him. He was asking them to be willing to do what he would first do for them.
If this is the case, no wonder we need to sit down and count the cost, because unless I am willing to have my whole life first deconstructed and then reconstructed by Jesus, I will never be his disciple.
Taken from To Seek and to Save, by Sinclair Ferguson, ©2020 by The Good Book Company, used by kind permission.
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