Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
Luke 14:25-27, 33
Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.
When was the last time you saw a good old crucifixion? I don’t think that we run the risk of being crucified very soon, that’s a good thing. So what did Jesus really mean by saying, “Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Have you ever really thought about this? Let’s cut through to the simple meaning, when Jesus carried the cross, it meant that he was a dead man walking. He was destined to die. But what is the implication to us?
Jesus is telling us that we must die to this worldly life in order to be His disciple. It is simple. Simple. We often say we love Jesus, but is it love or affection? Is our love cautious, wise, sensible and never taken to extremes? If it is then only really only have affection for Jesus and we only feel good and safe. Do you consider His greatness yet not follow His will in your life? Isn’t it time you truly stop living with one foot in the world and the other waiting for the eternal world. Our scripture tells us how we are to die to this worldly life. He said:
So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.
Luke 14:33 (NRSV) Wait a minute, maybe we have a Greek to English translation problem. No we don’t. KJV says to forsake all you have, NIV says to give up everything, NLT says to give up everything you own. The Message says it best: “Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.”
Salvation is free but it’s not cheap, did you catch that? Salvation is free but it’s not cheap. What a statement, any one of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. In today’s world that we live in, that really is the equivalent of dying isn’t it. That gets me out of my comfort zone and it also should do that to you. We love to hear the word preached about salvation being free, but we don’t like hearing about the cost of serving Christ.
Jesus clearly tells us that if we love Jesus, if we have accepted His gift, if it is truly in our heart, then because we love His gift and His promise, we will stop playing around at being a Christian and live like a Christian. A real follower of Jesus and die to ourselves and live for Jesus, live like Jesus, and do EVERYTHING in our power to be like Jesus. Now that’s something worth dying for.
How many times have you read or heard this yet this concept of giving up every thing we own seems to apply to others. “well that’s fine for them but Jesus wouldn’t expect that of me, would he?” “Wait a minute Jeff, what if I don’t want to be a disciple, what if I just want to be a plain, ordinary, everyday, average Christian in today’s world?” Read the New Testament and it doesn’t take long to discover that Christ doesn’t want plain ordinary, everyday, average Christian.
There seems to be Christian categories. Nominal Christians, they’re your C & E Christians, you know what I mean, you see them on Christmas and Easter. Then there are your Christian Christians, that’s what most of us are you know just your average, everyday, semi-committed Christian, then there are the disciples, you know what I mean, those super saints. They pray more, they give more, they are more disciplined.
But a disciple simply means one who follows a teacher or leader. A Buddhist is a disciple of Buddha, a Moslem is a disciple of Mohammed. And so by definition if you profess to follow Christ then you are a, you ready for it, you are a disciple of Jesus Christ. Now with that out of the way let’s go back to Luke 14:33 “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
You ok? Is that meant for me? Is that meant for you? I don’t know, how many different meanings could there be to that statement. We are asked today: “Jesus, is he someone worth losing everything for and Jesus are you speaking to me?” Sure sounds like that’s what he meant to me. “But everything Jeff?” well that’s what the Bible says, and we know that we don’t debate the Bible, right?
Back up from this verse and we find Jesus is making his way to Jerusalem and his final sacrifice, the crowds come and gather to hear the teachings of this new voice of God. Christ sees all these people, his followers, those who gather to hear his wisdom. “blessed be the peacemakers” “love your neighbours”, “do unto others” “love God”. What’s next? A great new teaching is coming.
But then they hear “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.” This stuns them, it stuns us! Where’s the love? Hate your mother and father? I have a problem with this, do you? He’s gone from love your enemies, to hate your mother. Love those you barely know, and hate those you know best? Say what Jesus? Hate flesh and blood?
But he probably isn’t saying here that we need to consciously hate all that is dear to us. Let me read it again this time in the New Living Translation Luke 14:26 “ If you want to be my follower you must love me more than your own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, more than your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.
You see it then is not affection, it is true love, it is loyalty to Jesus. This is not an easy way out though. What is our primary allegiance, to our family or to Christ? To our friends or to Christ, to ourselves or to Christ? To the things or the idols in our life or to Jesus? Jesus said this before. Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” And for that matter the true disciple cannot serve God and his job, or God and his family, or God and himself. Time. If God is not in first place then God is in the wrong place. Pause.
Neglect family or friends, no. It means that God has to take first place in our life. “But Jeff my family is a priority, and my job is a priority and my friendships are a priority.” Christ tells us in Matthew 6:33 that he will give you what you need from day to day if you live for him therefore make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. Getting closer to God, and becoming more Christ like will mean that you become a better father, or mother, a better husband or wife, a better employee or employer, and a better friend. And you will recognize and remove the idols of your life.
Christ will reward faithfulness but it is up to you to be faithful. A faithful disciple receives gifts from God, and what has God given us? It’s all that we have and all that we are. That’s the secret to understand giving of anything: time, possessions or even tithing; we will never give cheerfully as long as we think we are giving God 10% of what is ours. Instead we need to realize that he is allowing us to keep 90% of what is his. What will be or what was your attitude as you considered your offering today?
Everything we have has been given to us by God and all he asks of us is that we put him ahead of the things which he has given us. If Jesus was coming to dinner today would you go get White Castle sliders? No. The china would come out, your best dish would get cooked, we would outdo ourselves. The meal would be a banquet, no leftovers for Hum. If we are so over the top in what we would serve Christ at one meal, why are we so content with serving him leftovers the rest of the time.
From our money, to our time, to our talents we all too often fudge on giving Christ the very best and instead we are all too often content to offer him what little we have left over at the end of the week, and that of course is dependent on whether or not we need it. And that doesn’t sound like the words of Christ in Luke 14:33 So no one can become my disciple without giving up everything for me.
“Jeff it’s not easy to tithe, and it’s not easy to give God time out of a day that’s already too short.” I know that, and you know that and God knows that. How much time and effort did you give to Jesus this week? Who did you witness too? Who did you invite to know Jesus? Who did you invite to worship with you today? Who’s kingdom did you work the most on this week, yours or Jesus’. You know what? Jesus never once said that it was going to be easy. Following Jesus was never intended to be a cake walk but I guarantee you that if you do you will be joyous, blessed, and at true peace.
It is a false theology that proclaims that Christianity smoothes all the humps out of life and will make us healthy, wealthy and wise. The humps and bumps often cause us to really understand that we are to trust God. So no one can become my disciple without giving up everything for me.
This sounds like commitment, or dare I say “discipleship.” If we are going to be the type of Christian that Christ wants us to be it will have to an effect on our entire life. Christianity isn’t just a ticket to heaven it is supposed to be a lifestyle. It isn’t just supposed to affect our behavior on Sunday morning at 9:15, it is supposed to have a direct, dramatic impact on our entire life, Monday through Sunday, day in and day out, 24 hours a day; it is supposed to be a life changing experience.
Do you really think that Christ came to this earth, lived for thirty three years, suffered the things he went though and died on a cross so you could come to church Sunday morning, throw some leftover money in the plate, give a little Sunday time as well as MAYBE IF IT”S CONVENIENT FOR ME weekday time and then squeak into heaven when you die. That level of commitment wasn’t what he expected two thousand years ago when he called men and women to follow him and it’s not what he expects today.
In today’s scripture Jesus addresses the C of the ABC’s of Christianity, Accept, Believe, Commit. Jesus demanded from the crowd, he demands from each of us, 100% commitment. Jesus died for you, will you die to Him? Ask yourself what does God want from me and what am I not giving to Him? Our entire life needs to be lived asking the question “what does God want from me?”
The answer is in the totality of this book, the Bible, His Word, and here is a truth if you don’t read it you will never know what’s in it so you can apply it. His word provides the direction that we need as his disciple, but only if we read it. Today’s verses are just one of the answers to the questions I believe Jesus asked us today, listen to the Word of God one more time and let it really sink in:
“So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”
“Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.
Jesus, he is someone worth losing everything for.