Did you ever apply for a job you really wanted, but after being hired, you realized it wasn’t where you wanted to be at all? I have.
When I was sixteen, I was excited to finally be able to go out and get a “real job,” as opposed to the occasional housecleaning job that earned a few dollars. I was ready to enter the working force. I applied for and was hired at…(wait for it)…McDonald’s. At that age, I still liked fast food (not realizing what it would do to my middle-aged body). Employees got a free meal during their shift, so this was going to be a great experience, or so I thought.
I lasted three days.
After watching numerous very boring videos on how to assemble a burger I was put on “French fry” duty. It was tricky. You were responsible to make sure there was always a good supply of fresh, hot fries available but not too many, or they would have to be tossed. Then I got to take orders. It was frantic, always hurrying. Buzzers going off. People adding items to your order tray. The greasy smells. And don’t get me started on trying to build a tower of soft-serve ice cream! I quickly came to the conclusion it wasn’t for me…and bailed. I told my boss, “I’m not going to waste any more of your time or mine!” I have great respect for people who make a career in fast food. It’s hard work.
If someone had sat me down and helped me “count the cost” before applying, I would have saved myself a lot of time and frustration. I would have known what to expect.
Jesus knew the Christian life was going to be rough for those who applied, so in Luke 14, He gave some insight to the crowds who were following Him. In very blunt, practical terms, He lays out what it means to be a true disciple of His.
Disciples answer the call of Jesus. (Luke 14:16-24)
Jesus tells a parable about a man who gives a big dinner and invites many. They all give reasons why they can’t attend and make excuses. This offends the man, so he sends out his servants to invite the people that society has rejected – the lame, the blind, the poor, and the crippled. Even they are not enough to fill the house, so they return “to the highways and hedges” and compel others to come in. What a picture of grace! Those of us who have heard the call of Christ and responded are unworthy recipients of the grace and mercy of God. He invited, and we responded, accepting His offer. Those who consider other things more important than His invitation will be passed over, the opportunity lost, with no guarantees it will come again.
Disciples do not love anything or anyone more than Jesus. (Luke 14:25-26, 33)
Jesus uses a strong word here: hate. We must hate our relatives (father, mother, siblings, spouse, children, etc.)?? Jesus isn’t telling us to literally hate our family but making the point that our love for God and His kingdom is so great that our affection for others is like hate in comparison. We love them less; our first and most important relationship is with Jesus. In addition, He tells us we must be willing to give up all our possessions. Whatever God gives us in this life must be held with open hands as simple stewards of His resources. He. Comes. First.
Matthew Henry explains these verses in this way:
“They must be willing to quit that which was very dear, and therefore must come to him thoroughly weaned from all their creature-comforts, and dead to them, so as cheerfully to part with them rather than quit their interest in Christ. A man cannot be Christ’s disciple but he must hate father, and mother, and his own life. He is not sincere, he will be constant and persevering, unless he love Christ better than any thing in this world, and be willing to part with that which he may and must leave, either as a sacrifice, when Christ may be glorified by our parting with it (so the martyrs, who loved not their lives to death), or as a temptation, when by our parting with it we are put into a better capacity of serving Christ. Thus Abraham parted with his own country, and Moses with Pharaoh’s court. Mention is not made here of houses and lands; philosophy will teach a man to look upon these with contempt; but Christianity carries it higher.”(blueletterbible.org)
Disciples are willing to die for Jesus. (Luke 14:27)
Jesus says we are to “carry our own cross.” A cross symbolizes execution, death. When we “sign up” to be a disciple of Jesus, we are signing our own death warrant – death to the flesh, death to self. We die daily to our own desires. The old self is crucified, and we put on the new self in the image of God as the Holy Spirit sanctifies us and forms us into Christlikeness. We also may be called on to die as a martyr. All of the original twelve disciples did, except John, who died of old age (according to early church tradition). The world crucified Jesus. What makes us think they will accept His disciples?
Have you counted the cost of following Jesus? It will cost you everything in this life, but you will gain much more than you can imagine in the loss.
Philippians 3:8 – More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them mere rubbish, so that I may gain Christ.