There are plenty similes in Luke’s account of an admonishment which Jesus explained to the crowds of people who were gathering ’round him, but not committing themselves to be his disciples. The similes are so simple they make sense even when uttered by a child. The well read christian and scholar in your group will have no doubt studied Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book of the same title. Though by Jesus, child or theologian its imperative that we ourselves take this passage to heart and transform any lackadaisical behavior or attitude we might have if we fancy ourselves to be his disciples.
Section 115 | Cost of Discipleship
25 Now great multitudes1 were going with him. He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me,2 and doesn’t disregard3 his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he can’t be my disciple.4 27 Whoever doesn’t bear his own cross,5 and come after me, can’t be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?6 29 Or perhaps, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, everyone who sees begins to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build, and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, as he goes to encounter another king in war, will 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 yet a great way off, he sends an envoy, and asks for conditions of peace. 33 So therefore whoever of you who doesn’t renounce all7 that he has, he can’t be my disciple. 34 Salt is good,8 but if the salt becomes flat and tasteless, with what do you season it? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown out.9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
- Why do you suppose Jesus said this to the crowds who were fascinated, curious and gathering around him?
- Does Jesus offer any comfort in this teaching to those with the conviction to follow him?
- What have you had to give up, set aside, change on account of your own commitment to being a disciple of Christ? How about to achieve any other goal you’ve had for yourself (music instrument, sports, success, income, recovery from an illness, retirement)? How are they similar?
- What kind of Christians do you need around you to do that which you think God has called you to do as a minister of the Gospel? What can you do if you can’t find them? What would you do if the people with the talents that you gathered didn’t care enough to do the work?
- Is there any benefit in having halfhearted Christians attending your church/group?
- How can loving God above all else empower you to love others, empower you for ministry and go the distance – no matter what the cost?
- What other priorities, changes, or complications in your life have distracted you from doing all that God has called you to do for the Kingdom of God?
- What covenant are you willing to take as a disciple?
Learning Objectives: Be fully-devoted disciples, be committed to the mission of God, enlist others willing to invest all and keep the love of God and his mission as their first priority.
- These people were simply a casual collection of people – followers, fans, and people who click “like” on FB. People who wanted a messiah, or perhaps more correctly their expectations of the messiah to be fulfilled – but that’s not what he needed nor wants today. Jesus crafted this teaching especially for them – to motivate them to make a choice and fully wrap their identity in and with him. He was concerned rather than encouraged or impressed by his popularity for he knew many were not ready to be disciples. Indeed, even today, fans and casual members who are not fully devoted only consume energy, resources and worse yet – they themselves get a small percentage of the power of the Gospel. CR: Jn 6:24-27, Lk 12:1.
- If anyone wants the benefits I offer but isn’t willing to enter a the new covenant fully heart;y…
- The Greek word (g3404) μισέω miseō is sometimes translated “hate” but by extension, and more to Jesus point, it means “to love less” or “love in second place” e.g. 1st commandment and 2nd commandment. Jesus is using a hyperbole here to shock and grab the attention of the crowd. This is a Hebrew idiom of comparison (cf. Gen. 29:31,33; Deut. 21:15; Mal. 1:2- 3 [Rom. 9:13]; John 12:25). Clearly Jesus would not literally be instructing his listeners to hate their parents when Jesus’ instructed his hears to “honor your father and mother” (Matt. 15:4), which affirms the 5th Commandment (Ex 20:1–21; Deut 5:1–23). He’s speaking of priorities and a covenant between the disciple and Jesus which is essential for the full effect of the Gospel – CR: Mt 10:34-38; 12:47-50; Mk 10:29-30; Acts 20:24; Phil 3:8; Ps 73:25-26; Deut 13:6-8.
- The word here is not Christian but disciple μαθητής (g3101) mathētēs. In fact neither Jesus nor the apostles used the word to describe the disciples of Jesus, or the Church. It was a term used by non-Christians to describe (with a negative connotation) the disciples who walked to the beat of a different drummer, who’s lives and thinking didn’t line up to the values of commoners. CR: Mt 10:38; Lk 9:23-25;
- This is not the first time Jesus offered this bit of warning and call to action (Sec 83: Mt 16:24-26; Mk 8:34-37; Lk 9:23-25). By the time that Luke wrote his Gospel (before A.D. 63 and possibly before 55 – 59) the crucifixion of Jesus (CR. Sec 163: Jn 19:17) was well known throughout the region and so this message must be included in his letter to Theophilus, along with the account of sacrifice mentioned in Acts. CR. 2Tim 1:12, 3:12; 1 Ths 3:4-5.
- So many Christians, not fully devoting themselves as disciples, try to satisfy themselves and feed others only by gleaning rather being well rooted and harvesting. CR 2Jn 1:8; 2Pt 2:19-22; Heb 12:15; Phil 3:15-16; See also: 1Cor 3:11-14.
- As did the Apostles and most certainly did Matthew (Sect 47: Mt 9:9; Mk 2:13-14; Lk 5:27-28), Peter, Andrew, James and John (Sec 41: Lk 5:11) and the others (CR Sec 124a: Mt 19:27; Mk 10:28; Lk 18:28-30) as would Saul who became Paul the Apostle (Phil 3:7).
- See CR Mt 5:13; Mk 9:49-50, Col 4:6.
- CR Jms 2:6; Jn 15:6.