The Book of Luke, Discipleship, Part I - Lesson 179
Oswald Chambers (1874–1917) There is a difference between devotion to principles and devotion to a person. Hundreds of people today are devoting themselves to phases of truth, to causes. Jesus Christ never asks us to devote ourselves to a cause or a creed; he asks us to devote ourselves to him.
Luke 14:25‑35, And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. 34Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
This passage is addressed to those who have ears to hear.
This statement by Jesus Christ is used on several occasions and by using this statement Christ is telling us that his words are not going to be understood by all those of the multitude.
So the encouragement is for those who have ears to hear to go ahead and hear.
Ponder these words carefully to learn their meaning.
They are deep words and deep dives into the sea of thinking must be conducted in order for them to have their full impact.
In other words we are to meditate, meditate, and meditate upon these words and let the Lord teach us their fullness if we desire to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
I think most everyone who is saved desires to be a disciple of Christ.
But the desire to be a disciple and actually being a disciple are actions that are poles apart as we shall see by studying this passage.
One thing we can be sure of is that Jesus Christ always provides full disclosure whenever he asks anything of anyone.
This then is the full disclosure passage for discipleship.
Jesus Christ is traveling with the multitudes.
He is on his way to Jerusalem and he turns to the multitudes, that from the outward appear to be his disciples for they are traveling with him and hearing him along the way as he teaches.
But Jesus Christ is different from modern day preachers in that he takes the multitudes and instead of increasing the multitudes with greater multitudes he tends to decrease the multitudes at every opportunity to teach them.
For in this vein he tells them that the man who is his disciple hates his father, and mother, and wife and children and brethren and sisters and also his own life.
He tells them that the man who is his disciple will bear his cross and come after him.
He tells them the man who is his disciple forsakes all that he has in favor of all that Jesus Christ is.
Is this the message that enlarges the number of disciples?
Certainly not for this message decreases vastly the multitudes who simply follow.
But hear any of Christ’s messages and you will find the same theme, a theme of separating the wheat from the chaff.
A theme of separating those who have ears to hear from those who do not.
This is the pattern that good preaching follows for good preaching preaches truth and truth will always sort the wheat from the chaff.
If it does not sort, then it is not preaching that is true to God’s Word.
Now in this passage we are told that disciples of Christ are to hate while in other parts of scripture disciples are told to love.
Certainly we are to love those most dear to us.
We are even told to love our enemy, but here disciples are told to hate those who are usually most dear to them.
But remember that we are studying God’s word and there is no conflict between one part of God’s word with another part of God’s word.
Our challenge is to rightly divide the Word of Truth in order to understand truth.
Now most of those that composed the multitudes were on-lookers.
They were followers in that they went with Christ as he traveled but in most cases they were not true believers nor were they disciples.
These words were designed to stun those of this multitude for they had never heard of such stark and severe demands from one who desired disciples.
What is this message of hate your mother, hate your wife and father and sisters and brothers?
If there is any one term that is central to our understanding of Jesus’ words here it is in the term “hate.”
What does Jesus mean when He says that one cannot be His disciple without hating?
This word hate is from the Hebrew word, Mis-eh-o which means to detest but it also means to love less.
This idea of being loved less is expressed in the story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah in Genesis chapter 29.
In verse 30 we are told that Jacob “loved Rachel more than Leah.
And Verse 31, reads 31And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb.
So we see hear that hate is used in comparison to love to indicate a lesser love.
Jacob loved Rachel and Leah but he loved Rachel more.
He put Rachel ahead of Leah in loyalty and honor.
This choice of hate versus love is again seen in Matthew 10:37
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Here, Matthew’s wording does not speak of “hating” father and mother and other loved ones, but of loving them more than our Lord.
So, to “hate” in our Luke passage means “to love less than.”
Jesus is saying that in order to be His disciple men and women must love Christ more than their parents, more than their mate, more than their children, more than their sisters and brothers.
If any man come to me, and hate not, (in other words love these more than me), and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
Now this statement does not talk about permission to be a disciple but it talks about possibility or impossibility of discipleship.
This word “cannot” means it is impossible.
The very fact that a person favors his family and is dependent upon his family rather than Jesus Christ makes it impossible for him to be a disciple of Christ.
God has so ordained it to be so!
Christ is saying that he cannot work in such a person’s life for discipleship requires the ability of Christ to work in the life.
This is the same thought expressed in John 15 where Christ told us that he is the true vine and he said:
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Here we are given a picture of total dependency for the branches totally depend upon the vine for life and for fruit.
We all know that when we detach the branch from the vine the branch dies.
There is no outside supply to the branch, for true life is only sustained by dependency upon the vine.
Dependency then, is what Christ is teaching here as he talks about family versus discipleship.
A change in dependency is required for one to be a disciple of Christ.
Our family provides for our needs; our family provides us status and security.
But Christ is emphatically stating here that in order to be his disciple our dependency must change from family to total dependency upon Him.
I believe that when our Lord says that His disciples must “hate” their family He means that they must give up their dependence upon family, and must depend totally upon Him if they expect to he his disciple.
To be His disciple is not only to love Him more than anyone or anything else, it is to depend upon Him.
Independence of God is at the core of sin, and dependence on Him is at the core of discipleship.
You cannot be a disciple of Christ without depending upon Him over all other dependencies.
Christ adds another demand of discipleship, which is found in verses 26 and 27:
and hate his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
I think that these two expressions speak of one idea.
When you decide to follow Christ as His disciple, you must surrender any other source of “life” than Him, and you must surrender all self‑seeking and self promotion.
Becoming a disciple of our Lord means to give up your goals and to fulfill his purpose, which means doing his will.
Just as in marriage the woman should find joy in giving up her goals to become a helper to her husband in fulfilling his purpose, so the disciple sets aside all his dreams, all his goals, for those of his Master.
And just as the Master takes up His own cross, so we too, must take up that cross which God has ordained for us.
As I previously said Jesus Christ did not promote a large following for a large following’s sake.
He wants men and women to count the cost of discipleship and know full well what is expected rather than to fill the ranks with false professors.
28For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
Jesus’ words here state that discipleship comes at a very high cost, but he also implies that the price of discipleship often is understood later and often with surprise and dismay because the cost was not counted.
Jesus Christ mentions two illustrations of those who began a project without counting the cost and determining if they had the wherewithal to complete the project.
We are led to common conclusions in both of these illustrations:
(1) Both the builder and the king committed themselves to a course of action without having counted the cost.
(2) Both the builder and the king discovered, after they committed themselves to a course of action, that they did not have the resources to complete what they had started.
(3) Both the builder and the king failed to finish, and ended in humiliation and shame.
(4) In both instances, the builder and the king should have sat down and reflected, rather than acting quickly.
So we are to learn from these illustrations that Jesus wanted all men to know, in advance, what the price of discipleship was.
The multitudes were all enthusiastic and eager, but Jerusalem was coming, and so was the cross.
Jesus did not want men and women following Him without knowing that there was a “cross” for them as well.
We are to learn that Jesus wanted men to choose to be His disciple purposefully, rather than to follow after Him without thinking.
If Jesus was not after a large following of uncommitted followers, neither was He pressing them for a quick decision.
The very difficulty of His words caused the people to have to go away and ponder what He meant.
Furthermore, in His two illustrations, Jesus said that each man should have sat down and considered what he purposed to do.
Sitting down implied that some time and much thought should have been devoted to this matter of discipleship.
Quick decisions are only for those who want unthinking commitment with possible alteration over time.
Slow, deliberate decisions are for those who want long‑term commitments without alteration or change.
And also Jesus did not want those who depended upon the resources of others but were totally dependent upon him.
Those who forsake the resources of family to follow Christ can truly follow him for they fully depend upon him and not family.
No one has the resources in and of himself to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, any more than he or she has the resources to earn God’s favor and eternal life.
This is precisely why Jesus began by teaching that in order to be His disciple one would have to “hate” his family, to renounce his dependence upon family, so as to depend fully upon Christ alone.
To understand this more fully let’s go back to the vine and the branch analogy.
In order for the branch to produce the fruit that is satisfactory to the husbandman the branch must be connected to the vine.
If it produces fruit apart from the vine that kind of fruit is not acceptable to the husbandman.
If you by self discipline or other means are able to conjure up some semblance of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness or temperance that kind of fruit apart from the vine will not be accepted by God for it does not result from Jesus Christ.
"Only one life 'twill soon be passed, only what's done for Christ will last."
Should read “Only one life ‘twill soon be passed, only what’s done through Christ will last”
22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Our Lord is not trying to get these followers to muster up enough commitment to become His disciples, but to consider the reality that no one has the resources to follow Him, apart from His enablement.
Discipleship, then, is not following Christ with sufficient means to do what He commands, but with utter dependence upon Him to enable us to do His will.
Both the willing and the doing come from Him, and not from us.
The key element of discipleship is not obedience, for we are incapable of that in and of ourselves, but dependence, for without Him, we can do nothing.
We love to sing the hymn, “Trust and Obey”.
But note the order - trust comes before obey.
We must trust in order to obey.
Dependence upon him is utterly necessary before we can truly obey in anything.
That is why you cannot be his disciple unless you fully depend upon Him.