Summary: Many initially are willing to follow the Lord, but fail to count the cost. Upon realizing the great sacrifice necessary to follow Him, many are unwilling to pay the price. We must count the cost and be willing to pay the price in service to the Lord.
The Cost of Discipleship
Luke 14: 25-33
I am certainly thankful for the free gift of salvation. Christ paid our sin debt, reconciling us to God in salvation. This gift is freely available to all who receive it by faith. Salvation is free, but our service to the Lord is costly. If we are unwilling to pay the price to follow the Lord, we will accomplish little in service to Him. It has been said, “There is very little blessing or reward in serving the Lord conveniently.(i)” Another questioned, “Considering God's investment in us, what is He getting in return? (ii)”
Our opening verse reveals that a great multitude had followed the Lord and He began to teach them concerning discipleship. His first statement likely hindered many in their pursuit of Him. In fact, this passage is very challenging for any disciple of Christ. It reveals the cost we are expected to pay if we are committed to following the Lord. Many are happy to receive the benefits associated with salvation, but few are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to follow the Lord in obedient discipleship.
I want to examine the criteria Jesus reveals regarding those who determine to follow Him. Let’s consider: The Cost of Discipleship. Notice:
I. The Contrast Exposed (26) – 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. This statement would have been hard to receive. I am sure that many continue to struggle with it today. Before we become critical, let’s consider what the Lord is saying. He reveals a great contrast.
A. The Difficulty – Many consider the statement made of Jesus and focus solely on the word “hate.” Now, I will agree that is a very strong word in our English language. Many who heard these words likely accused Jesus of teaching contrary to Scripture and even contradicting Himself. The law commanded all to love their families, honoring their father and mother. Jesus taught that hatred and anger were dangerous, being likened to murder. We must understand the approach Jesus takes here. He is not teaching contrary to Scripture or contradicting His prior teachings. He is revealing an exaggerated contrast. He implies our love for Him must be so strong and abiding, that when compared to other loves, those pale in comparison. In a parable in the preceding verses, when compelled to come to the great supper, one needed to prove the oxen he had purchased and another had just taken a wife. These were more important than following Jesus. Our love for Christ must exceed the love we have for anyone or anything!
B. The Discernment – Jesus reveals that our love for Him must exceed love for all others or we cannot be His disciple. This is a convicting thought. I don’t question the love many of you have for the Lord. Your love is evident to see. However, can we honestly say we love the Lord more than anyone or anything? Is He the priority in our lives? I think we all would have to agree that our love for the Lord could increase. He must be our priority and the passion of our hearts if we are to follow Him in a way that honors and pleases Him!
II. The Cross Expected (27) – And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. Here Jesus shares another requirement for those who may have heard this for the first time. We discussed this in our previous study, but let’s quickly consider it again.
A. The Sacrifice – And whosoever doth not bear his cross…cannot be my disciple. Again we are reminded of the responsibility to bear our cross. Jesus doesn’t speak of a few sacrifices made along the way or mere inconveniences. This requires much more than simply bearing a burden or two along the way. We must be willing to die to the desires of the flesh daily as we serve the Lord. If we are unwilling to deny the flesh its desires, we cannot love the Lord as He demands and deserves. Bearing ones cross is essential in discipleship!
B. The Submission – And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. While it isn’t likely that one would bear their cross without following the Lord, it is possible. Jesus declares that we must seek after Him if we are to be His disciple. Eph.6:6-7 – Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;  With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men. Our lives are void and empty apart from Christ. This principle does not change following salvation. We are positioned in Christ, but to enjoy victory and communion, we must follow Him consistently!