Summary: Jesus now turns to a crowd of mixed spiritual commitment and speaks of “The Demands of Discipleship,” words that seem deliberately aimed at thinning their ranks.
A Study of the Book of Luke
Sermon # 40
“The Demands of Discipleship”
Dr. John R. Hamby
When the dinner was over Jesus resumed his journey to Jerusalem. In verse twenty-five we see that when Jesus left the Pharisee’s home in which he had been invited to dinner a large crowd followed him. “Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them” Jesus’ public ministry attracted such a large following that it was hard for him to get away from the crowds long enough to catch his breath. But among the crowds were many who were attracted by many different interests. “Physically, these people are on their way to Jerusalem in Jesus’ entourage. But there is a suggestion that they are merely ‘going along’ with Him spiritually as well. They held certain beliefs about Him, but it is not clear that they truly believe in Him.” [Gary Inrig. The Parables: Understanding What Jesus Meant.” (Discovery House) p. 82]
Jesus knew that most of this crowd was not in the least bit interested in spiritual things. They were like many people today, willing to follow Jesus as long as the cost is not too high or the demands too great. They were just like some people today who look to Jesus to solve their money problems, family problems or health problems but who quickly grow disillusioned and unwilling to follow the Lord if following Jesus does not solve those problems or if following requires sacrifices on their part.
It would seem that Jesus was never impressed by the size of the crowd, by sheer numbers. For Jesus now turns to this crowd of mixed spiritual commitment and speaks of “The Demands of Discipleship,” words that seem deliberately aimed at thinning their ranks. The demands are stated in the phrase that reoccurs three times (v. 26, 27, 33) in this text, “… he cannot be my disciple… he cannot be my disciple… [he] cannot be my disciple.”
The demands of discipleship are found in this text beginning in verse twenty-six.
1. We must love Jesus Christ more than personal relationships (v. 26a)
"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters ,… he cannot be My disciple.”
His language about hate is shocking as He intended it to be. To understand his statement we need to understand Jesus often used startling and penetrating paradox to make his point. Jesus wanted his listeners to have to think about the stringent demands that He is making.
The clear teaching of scripture is that we are to honor our father and mother (Mark 7:9-13), and that men are to love their wives as Jesus loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). What Jesus is saying in a paradoxical fashion is that our love for Him must be so great and so pervasive that our natural love of self and family pales in comparison. We are to love him supremely.
Jesus grabs believers out of “la-la land” and He demands that we examine our lives and ask some hard questions. “Do you think you are a Christian? Well then do you love me more than you do anything else? Do you love me so much that your love for family seems like hatred by comparison? Otherwise don’t pretend to be a follower of mine!” Jesus’ words still have the power to astonish us.