Summary: When it comes to winning the lost, God wants His house filled; but when it comes to discipleship, Christ thins out the ranks and wants only those who will die to self and live for Him.
Lesson: Demands of Discipleship
It is easy to be part of the crowd and follow a popular Jesus, but that is not true discipleship. He calls you away from the crowd to take up your cross and follow Him. When it comes to winning the lost, God wants His house filled; but when it comes to discipleship, Christ thins out the ranks and wants only those who will die to self and live for Him.
(Luke 14:25-27) And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
There were great multitudes with him. Some followed out of love, but most were there to see the miracles and to listen to Him preach; for He spoke as no one ever spoke before or since. They were a mixture of all levels of society; rich and poor, religious rulers and common people, healthy and sick, young and old; men, women and children.
Jesus must have known that many in the crowd wanted to be His disciples and follow Him, because He talks to them about the heavy cost of discipleship. He tells them that we should put God first. A believer’s devotedness to Jesus Christ should be such that, by comparison, it looks as if everything else is hated. Therefore, before entering into discipleship, the cost should be carefully calculated, for Christ must come first in the disciple’s life. “To hate” means that the disciple’s other loyalties must be subordinate to devotion to the Lord. A true disciple must also be willing to face martyrdom. To be Christ’s disciple, He must be Lord. If He is not Lord of all, He may not be Lord at all!
“Whosoever doth not bear his cross” brings to mind those who were condemned to be crucified. The Lord says that he cannot be my disciple. Although the disciples of Christ are not all crucified, yet they all bear their crosses. There are a thousand different crosses. Each one is unique for the individual believer. What is your cross to bear: persecution, sickness, poverty, loneliness, disobedient children, blindness, heart trouble, cancer; we could go on and on. What ever it is, you cannot allow it to keep you from following Christ. Bearing ones cross is not an easy assignment; it is just being a true Christian with all that entails.
(Luke 14:28-30) For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
When we become a Christian, we are like a man that undertakes to build a tower, and for that reason must consider what it is going to cost. If he starts to build it, but can’t finish it because he doesn’t have the money, people will laugh at him. It will cost something to make a decision for Christ. It will cost something to be His disciple. Think it over, friend. Those that intend to build this tower must sit down and count the cost. They need to consider that it will cost them their sins, even their favorite lusts; it will cost them a life of self-denial and watchfulness, and lots of good deeds. It may in some places, perhaps, cost them their reputation, their property and freedom, and all that is dear to them in this world, even life itself. And, even if it should cost us all of this, what is it in comparison to what it cost Christ to purchase our salvation for us. Nothing is more shameful than for those that have begun to follow Christ, to quit.
(Luke 14:31-33) Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
When we are first saved, we are like a man that goes to war, and therefore must consider the danger and difficulties he may encounter. A king that declares war against a neighboring prince has considered whether he has the strength to win, and, if not, he will lay aside his thoughts of war. Just like the king, the Christian must realize that he is in a war against Satan and his troops, and against sin and temptation, and that that war may cost him something. That young man that could not find in his heart to part with his possessions for Christ must have counted the cost and believed it was better to go away from Christ sorrowing than to give up his possessions.