Scripture Reading: Now great multitudes went with Him. And he turned and said to them, 26 If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, Yes and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:25, 26
For part of Jesus’ ministry, He seemed okay with the large crowds. He was fine with people coming out to be inspired by his teachings. He didn’t seem to mind the fact that they were coming to see some miracles.
Jesus welcomed people who were curious and wanting to find out more about this unconventional rabbi. But the time comes when Christ wants to draw a line in the sand and begin to talk about the relationship. He wants to know where the people stand. Untimely, Jesus wasn’t concerned with the size of crowd, but their level of commitment.
Have you come looking to feel good and see a miracle in others or perhaps just hear the speaker. But eventually in every relationship a decision needs to be made. Do I want to remain who I am, or do I want to change for the sake of the relationship? Do I want to remain a fan, or do I want to become a follower?
Imagine for a moment you were part of the large crowed that followed Jesus as he went from place to place. You have heard Him preach. You have heard Him teach brining new meaning to old passages of Scripture. You have witnessed miracle after miracle. In your thinking and the thinking of others you are sure he is about to pronounce himself King.
Suddenly Jesus turns to the crowd and says: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.”
“If anyone comes to Me.” Christ’s words echo across the ages as an open invitation. He is not qualifying it by saying if you are rich, if you have a great family, if you have no family if you are poor. He is not saying any of those things, instead it is an open invitation to us all, “If anyone comes to me.”
Rachel was a young attractive college student. She was popular on campus, for there always seemed to be a group of people around her. She had no church affiliation in-fact she had never attended church that she could remember.
The local church was having a series of evangelistic meetings and a couple of weeks before the series opened they sent out handbills advertising the upcoming meetings.
Something within Rachel caused her to want to attend the meetings. She came the first night at sat toward the back. Strangely none of her many friends had come even though she had invited them to come.
Faithfully she came each night moving closer and closer to the front as the series continued. She invited the pastor and evangelist to her apartment and for three hours they talked and discussed the Bible and answered each and every one of her many questions.
As the series of meetings drew to a close she accepted Christ as her Saviour and was baptized.
The question I have often asked myself, does Rachel understand what it may cost to follow Jesus? Does any new convert really truly understand what it might cost to follow Jesus? Do we really truly understand what it costs to follow Jesus.
Let’s turn back to Luke 14:26 for a minute. “If anyone comes to Me.” I don’t see any selectiveness in this statement, I see an inclusiveness by Jesus. As I stated a few moments ago, it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, It doesn’t matter if you are strong or weak. It doesn’t matter who your parents are, who your siblings are, who your spouse is, we are all invited to come and the choice to follow is up to each of us.
Verse 26 is a define the relationship moment for any fan of Jesus.
There are four principles that are brought out in this group of verses on moving from being a fan to becoming a follower Let’s look at the next the next few verse of Luke 14.
Let’s start by reading verse 26 and then 27. “If anyone come to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sister, yes and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple, 27 and whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple.”
Let me be perfectly clear. The scripture is not making use of the word “hate” in the usual sense of the word. The word Hate should be understood simply as a typical Oriental hyperbole meaning “To love less” We understand this by looking at the sister passage from Matthew 10:37 where it says, “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.”
Let’s me remind you it was God who created the family in the first place. Some might even argue that family could be more important than the Sabbath for the institution of marriage was established in the garden before the Sabbath was instituted.
But what God is saying is this: families are vitally important, yet we should not let the family become more important than our relationship with Christ. And when we as individuals put Christ first, how much better could our marriages and family situations could become.
But before we get to cozy with this idea, Jesus gives us a warning in verse 27 in Luke chapter 14 where he says, “and whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
Among the Romans, Death by crucifixion was reserved for slaves and for those convicted of the most heinous crimes. Thus it may be said that those sentenced to die on the cross were loathed, hated and rejected by society.
One condemned to crucifixion usually bore his cross to the place of execution. Along the way the person condemned to die would suffer ridicule. Often sticks and stones or rotten fruit and vegetables were thrown at the person condemned to die.
To take up the cross of Christ and follow after Him means to endure without complaint or regret the frown of friends and relatives and to bear the reproach of men with patience and humility. It is means to endure the sword of persecution at the hands of the very one from whom peace might be expected. It was a principle that Christ stated upon various occasions. (see Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23 and our text Luke 14:27)
But one who is called upon to take up his cross in order to follow Christ has the supreme privilege of fellowship with Him in His sufferings. No greater honor can come to any man.
After all who better to understand our plight and our needs and sympathize with us than He who suffered rejection and ridicule and also took up His Own cross.
Your see, Christ makes it clear, love me more than all others, and even more than your own self, then you will become a follower of Me and I will walk with you and suffer with you as you take up your cross.
Many of us enjoy building, or restoring things. One of my favorite hobbies is restoring antique furniture. For those of us that enjoy projects of this type Christ simply lays it out in simple terms.
Luke 14:28, 29; “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it – 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish,’”
A few months ago, I was at a meeting of church leaders in one of our sister churches. During that meeting they began to say how the city was upset at them because they had purchased a pieces of property to build a new church and now these many years later the church owned land still stood empty. It would appear they had not counted the cost.
But I am not sure this is what this passages is actually saying. This really isn’t about building a building this is about considering the cost of becoming a disciple.
Psalm 61:3 says, For you (David is referring to Christ when he says) For you have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy. Christ is saying Luke 14: 28, and 29, have you counted the cost of becoming a follower of me? Do you realize the cost of building a relationship with me?
Rachel had become baptized and accepted Christ as her Saviour, yet I am not sure she had counted the cost of becoming a follower of Christ. As what happens so often with Christians young and old her family couldn’t understand why she had become baptized. The group of friends she hung out with became fewer and fewer because she felt uncomfortable doing the things she used to do.
She soon felt alone and confused. She missed her friends and soon started to hang out again with them on Thursday evenings. Soon she was doing many of the things she had done before.
Her tower, her relationship with Christ remained unfinished while those she used to hang out with mocked her because she had shown to be so unfaithful.
Though they ridiculed her for attending church and becoming baptized, yet they would have respected her more if she had remained faithful, but she failed to count the cost and considered their friendship and the love of her family more important than a relationship with a loving God.
When it came time to pick up her cross she failed to realize that there was someone else that had also pickup up his cross and that someone had died for her. He understood what she was going through. He could sympathize with her, and he invited her to cast all her cares upon Him, but her love of others and of self-grew to strong.
Luke 14:31 – 33. “Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and ask conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciples.”
It is clear, you and I have a choice to make. We cannot sit idly by and not consider the odds. When we look at the life around us it would appear the odds are against us. They are stacked in favor of the other side.
How does Paul state it in Ephesians 6:12. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Christ is saying that hey when you look at it, the odds are stacked against you. Are you willing to count the cost and understand that even though the odds are against you in earthly terms I am for you and with you and have already fought the fight for you.
Or are you going to look at the odds and attempt to negotiate a peace settlement.
I have a friend who is a former pastor. As a young person I admired and looked up to him. I felt he was a godly man. Several years ago he left the ministry. I asked him why? Why did you leave the ministry? What happened?
His response scared me for he told me this: “Every day I woke up and felt I was fighting this great fight. It wasn’t the members of the church I was pastoring; they were wonderful people. But every morning I felt I was fighting this great fight. At night I would go to bed exhausted and unable to sleep because I was still fighting this fight.
I finally determined to give up the ministry and I am so glad I did for I have never had such joy and peace in my life.”
My friend I said, have you counted the cost? Do you realize the cost? The peace came because you sent a delegation to make peace with the enemy and they succeeded. You now have peace, but at what cost
All through these verses this morning Christ is begging, asking, pleading, and inviting us to hate, not in a way that would lead us to murder another but to love Him more than everything else in our life.
He wants us to be very sure we understand that this involves taking up our cross. That there is a price to be paid and that we must recognize that the odds are stacked against us when we look at in with eyes turned to the things of this world.
Christ is asking us to turn our eyes upon Him. He is asking to define the relationship by shunning the label of fan and becoming a follower, a true disciple for him.
Last week Pastor Daniel explained how important salt was in ancient civilization and how it is used as a preservative when it is infused into the item that is to be preserved.
Christ again uses salt to drive home His point when he says in verse 34 “Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its flavor. If you, or I am the salt of the earth and fail to take Christ’s invitation to hate, by loving him more than everything else: “how then shall it be seasoned? How will the world begin to understand the character of Christ if the salt does not become infused in the people around us. He continues by saying: 35 it is neither fit for the land nor for the dung hill but men throw it out. “He who has ears to hear, LET HIM HEAR.