Summary: An expository teaching message on Luke 14:25-35.
Luke Series #69 June 23, 2002
Title: Defining Discipleship
Introduction: Welcome to New Life in Christ. This morning we are continuing in Chapter 14 of the Book of Luke in our verse-by-verse teaching series out of that book.
Read Luke 14:25-35
The following are actual responses from comment cards given to the staff members at Bridger Wilderness Area in 1996:
Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill.
Too many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the areas of these pests.
Please pave the trails…Chair lifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to hike to them.
The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals.
A small deer came into my camp and stole my jar of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call…
Escalators would help on steep uphill sections.
A MacDonald’s would be nice at the trailhead.
Too many rocks in the mountains.
Citation: Mike Neifert, Light and Life (February 1997), p. 27
These comments and complaints indicate that the people who made them do not really understand what it means to stay in a "wilderness area." They were looking for something convenient and comfortable, but not truly a wilderness experience. In a similar way, many people today do not understand what it means to be a genuine Christian. There are multitudes that often follow Jesus or claim to be a Christian but they do so on their terms and not his. They do not truly comprehend the biblical definition of discipleship.
Because of this ignorance there are many who consider themselves to be followers of Jesus who are not, even though in many ways they do look like followers of Jesus. They go to church, have a profession of faith, read their Bibles, pray, even give in the offering, but they are not the real deal or at least are not living and thinking like the real deal. Jesus confronts this problem in our text today. He makes very, very clear what it means to be a Christian, and therefore there is no reason for anybody to be ignorant or self deceived.
We will take a look at how Jesus defined discipleship in a few moments when I go over this text verse by verse, but before I do I want to explain the word "disciple" which is repeated several times in these few verses. A disciple is a true follower of Jesus Christ. In other words, what we would call a "Christian." If you are a Christian, you are a disciple; if you are not a disciple as Jesus defines it then you are not a Christian. These two terms (Disciple and Christian) mean the same thing in the same way that I mean that the same thing when I speak of my "spouse" or my "wife."
In fact the term "disciples" occurs 269 times in the New Testament, while the term "Christian" only occurs three times. In the Book of Acts we’re told that "The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:26)." This makes clear that the terms are interchangeable. I wanted this to be clear because I believe it greatly clarifies the seriousness of what Jesus was saying. For instance, Jesus words in verse 27, "Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple" could also be phrased as "Anybody who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be a Christian." That phrasing somehow gets our attention more and clarifies the seriousness of the issue or subject Jesus is teaching about.
With that brief explanation let’s now look at this passage verse by verse.
Read Verses 25-27
The first thing I want you to notice is to whom Jesus is speaking these words about being his disciple. Luke notes specifically that "large crowds" were following Jesus and that Jesus specifically "turned to them" and elaborated on being a disciple. Jesus was not talking to those who were antagonistic towards him or to those who were uninterested in his life and message. No, these were people who were "traveling with the Jesus." There are positive in their attitude toward Jesus. They were interested in what he had to say. They apparently mistook this positive attitude and interest in Jesus for true discipleship, as many people do today. They considered themselves to be followers of Jesus but in reality they were only casual followers and not committed followers.
They were willing and even anxious to follow Jesus providing the cost was not to high or the demands too great. They were like many people today who do "Christian things" like go to church, pray, sing Christian songs, etc. but are not really committed to Jesus. In a sense they were “along for the ride” but were unwilling to give up everything in their lives that conflicted with following Jesus in a committed way. They were like many today who look to Jesus to solve their money problems, relationship problems, health problems, etc. but who quickly grow disillusioned and unwilling to obey Jesus completely when following Jesus doesn’t solve these problems or following Jesus requires real sacrifices in their lives. These "large crowds" were casual followers and not committed followers, which are you?