Summary: As I follow Jesus as his disciple, I can live a life of eternal purpose and significance.
I’m convinced one of the reasons so many people were attracted to Jesus was that He offered them purpose for living. Yet Jesus wanted to make sure they really understood what He was all about. They could indeed find meaning and purpose in life, but first they had to commit to following Him as His disciple.
Likewise, to find our purpose we must commit ourselves to following Jesus. Because Christ died for us and was raised from the dead for us, through faith in Him, not just so we can find ourselves in His presence one day, but so we live with a sense of purpose as we follow Him as His disciple today.
1. What it means to follow Christ as His disciple - vs. 25-27
A. I give Him the devotion of my life – vs. 25-26
Here’s a place where the Bible doesn’t mean what says, it means what it means. This is what’s known as hyperbole. Jesus made an outlandish statement to make a point. His meaning is, “To follow me as a disciple, your love for others must pale in comparison to your love for me.”
In following Jesus, sometimes that love will be put to the test.
“Sometimes a decision for Jesus means refusing to offer support to a family member for a decision that may be immoral in God’s eyes. Taking that stand may be painful, but necessary. It may mean refusing to endorse a relationship before God that has been conducted in a way that dishonors him. It may mean telling a brother, sister, relative, or friend engaged in adultery, in the painful act of confronting love, that God is not pleased with his or her actions. It may mean discussing destructive behavior at the risk of never speaking to that person again. It may be perceived as loving God over family or friends, when ironically it means loving both.”
- Darrell L. Bock, The NIV Application Commentary
B. I give Him the direction of my life – vs. 26b
“ ... yes even his own life …” Luke 14:26b (NIV)
As believers, we all say we want Christ to guide us, but usually we are talking about specific situations we’re concerned about. In other words, we “pick and choose” when and where we want the Lord’s guidance. But Jesus’ intention is that everything be under His direction.
“I think that many of us, when Christ has enabled us to overcome one or two sins that were an obvious nuisance, are inclined to feel (though we do not put it into words) that we are now good enough. He has done all we wanted Him to do, and we should be obliged if He would leave us alone. But the question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what he intended us to be when he made us.
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on. You knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised.
But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards.
You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage, but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it himself.” - C. S. Lewis
Hating your own life means when your hopes and dreams come into conflict with Jesus’ direction, that you subordinate your desires to His.
C. I give Him the destination of my life – v. 27
The people of Jesus’ day understood the implications of carrying a cross. It meant execution. If you saw a man carrying a cross, you knew he was on his way to die. There was no going back for him.
Likewise, the mark of a true follower of Christ is the commitment to follow Christ no matter where it may lead. There is no going back for him. That’s what the cross was all about. Are you willing to follow Christ no matter where it might lead? Have you set you course completely in God’s direction with no intent of ever turning back?
I recently had the privilege to meet Olan and Lynn Burrows, missionaries to Kenya. What impressed me about this couple was not their willingness to go to the foreign field to serve the Lord, but what they said were their retirement plans. They shared that they had recently retired from the International Mission Board, but felt the Lord wanted them to remain in Kenya to continue to serve as they drew their retirement pension. In fact, they shared that they planned on dying and being buried in Kenya.