Summary: This Bible study from Luke examines the basic requirements for discipleship
The Foundation for Following
Midweek Bible Study
November 5, 1997
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me but loves his father, mother, wife, children, brothers or sisters - or even life - more than me, he cannot be my follower. Whoever is not willing to carry the cross and follow me cannot be my follower. If you want to build a tower, you first sit down and decide how much it will cost, to see if you have enough money to finish the job. If you don’t you might lay the foundation, but you would not be able to finish. Then all who would see it would make fun of you, saying ‘This person began to build but was not able to finish.’ If a king is going to fight another king, first he will sit down and plan. he will decide if he and his ten thousand soldiers can defeat the other king who has twenty thousand soldiers. If he can’t, then while the other king is still far away, he will send some people to speak to him and ask for peace. In the same way, you must give up everything you have to be my follower. Salt is good, but if it loses its salty taste, you cannot make it salty again. It is no good for the soil or for manure; it is thrown away. You people who can hear me, listen. Luke 14:25-35 New Century Version
1. What is this teaching about? The teaching that Jesus shares lays the very foundation for the aspect of discipleship and it reveals the nature of following Jesus. The teaching flows in four stages: 1. The concept of commitment, 2. The building of a tower, 3. The king going to war, 4. The salt.
The concept of commitment: Jesus displays an extreme picture of loyalty and obedience. The idea is that we are to be loyal to Christ above everything and everyone else. This is not radical in nature but rather essential to being a disciple of Jesus and without such obedience the relationship is not strong. Jesus uses the Greek word mesea, which literally means disgust or hate, but the concept does not seem to follow Biblical teaching. We are commanded to love our enemies and now hate our families? Jesus does not mean a literal hate or even dislike but rather a shift in loyalty from family to God. This does not mean to neglect your family. Our first loyalty lies in Christ and not our family.
The building of a tower: Jesus uses a good illustration about the nature of discipleship because it is not a natural human response. The human response is to place the self will above God’s will. Discipleship is a type of training that sets our heart on the things of God and centers us on Jesus Christ. The idea of becoming a disciple without the proper preparation and dedication is as impossible as building a tower without making preparations before construction begins. The idea is that no one can be a disciple of Jesus without preparation and effort The task of discipleship is not finished in a short amount of time.
The king going to war: Jesus uses a second example to illustrate discipleship with the king that is going to war. The king is considering the fact that war is coming and whether or not he can stand against a stronger foe. The idea here is the fact that we must be willing to do whatever it takes to be a disciple of Christ. Just as the king needed to settle the engagement with the enemy; we also need to settle our desire to follow and be a disciple. Terms of peace are simple. God has sent Jesus to solve the sin problem of humanity and the peace has been made; all we have to do is accept and follow.
The salt: The nature of salt in the ancient world was a valuable one because it was rare and was extremely useful. The value of salt was seen in its properties as a preservative and medical uses. Salt is useful as long as it has the unique properties of it chemistry intact but when it loses it unique properties; it becomes worthless. The same is true of a Christian who is not actively engaged in discipleship because the very nature that makes Christians unique from the world is lost when we are not being discipled.
2. Who are the major characters?
A. Jesus: Jesus is the one who gives this strong teaching to the people because He is preparing them for a developed Christian life after He is gone. The direct result is a pounding teaching that bring the message of Jesus straight to the heart. The concept of being loyal to God before anything or anyone else is key to discipleship because Jesus wants all or nothing. The choice is ours to make. Jesus doesn’t make anyone follow Him but rather calls people to follow Him. Every believer must be in the discipleship process. Either being discipled or discipling others. Without discipleship there can be no true growth.