Summary: Following Christ is not always easy, however it must always be the highest priority.
There are those who want to avoid all that is difficult. Some look for the easiest way. Some seek that which will bring less challenge or less hardship. The US Marine Corps takes pride in having a far different attitude. On the US Marine Corps website are these words under eligibility, “Our standards are high, our ranks are few. Marines are men and women who, once trained, will meet the highest standards of moral and physical strength.” In other words, the Marine Corps is not looking for slackers, or those who lack commitment, or those looking for the easy way.
This month we have been making a PRIORITY CHECK each week. We have checked our priority of OTHERS. Last Sunday we checked our priority of COMMITMENT. This week we are checking our priority of DISCIPLESHIP – today’s priority check is closely linked to last week’s priority of commitment. Last week we saw the danger in having misplaced priorities toward THINGS, toward WORK, and even toward FAMILY. As we continue to read in Luke 14 we will see that Jesus expects those who follow Him to have a very high priority of DISCIPLESHIP. Jesus was not looking for those who wanted an easy, pain free, challenge free life. Jesus was not seeking followers who would take the easy road in life but those who wanted to take the high road and were willing to pay a high cost to be on that high road that leads to a high destination!
Jesus gives some matters of important consideration for those who desire to follow Jesus – to those who desire to be His disciples.
25 Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them,
26 "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.
I. Priority of Christ Above Others
We began this series with a study of Luke 14:1-14 in which we saw the importance of showing priority to others. Now in this message we see that we are to give Christ priority over others. Are these contradictory? NO! While it is very important for us to show much love, concern, and care toward others. Our priority to Christ is above our love, concern, and care toward others. The two are really linked and not in opposition.
43 "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.'
44 "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
46 "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
Last Sunday we gave attention to the importance of placing our Lord in higher priority than our family. We cited another passage of Scripture where Jesus said . . .
37 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me."
Jesus is making the same point here when He tells those who would follow Him that their love and commitment for Him must be higher than their love of others – even of their own family. Jesus is not teaching His followers to have actual hatred for family for that would be contradictory to what he teaches in many other places. He taught we are even to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. But as much as we are to love others, as greatly as we love our family, that love IN COMPARISON to our love for Him could seem like hate. Our love for the Lord FAR exceeds the love we have for others, even for our family.
That is a priority of very great importance! If we move Christ down from the highest position in our life, we are not being His disciple! He is our highest priority.
II. Priority of Christ Over Self
27 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
A cross, of course, was an instrument of death. Jesus would soon be put to death on a cross. He was willing to take up that cross and sacrifice His life for our sake. He died so we can live. He sacrificed His sinless life so we could know forgiveness of our sin. Jesus put us and His Father’s will above Himself. Jesus expects us, as we follow Him, to follow His example of denying self. A disciple of Christ has HIGH priorities. Jesus said at another time . . .