The Book of Luke, Discipleship, Part II - Lesson 180
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.
One of the requirements of a disciple is to be a follower of a teacher of doctrines and principles depending solely upon the teacher.
A disciple then is one who knows that he does not know all he needs to know and therefore he must put himself under one who will teach him what he needs to know.
Jesus Christ has said in this Luke chapter 14 passage that there must be an allegiance to him that is higher than any other allegiance in order for it to be possible for a man to be his disciple.
In other words Jesus Christ requires the undivided attention of those who desire to be his disciple.
Therefore all other allegiances that are in place that place Jesus Christ in a subservient position will cause learning to be hindered or even come to an end completely.
He is saying that there are earthly relationships that must be subordinate to the relationship with Him in order for successful discipleship to take place.
There is a certain militant quality of this requirement.
Even the word “disciple” has a militant quality to it as it involves combat for it is engaged in warfare with the world, the flesh, and the devil.
There is a hardness to the command to place one’s family in a subservient position that can also be found in the authority exercised by the military.
The word militant according to Webster's 1828 dictionary means fighting, combating, serving as a soldier.
A quote by a man named Hooker is given in Webster’s dictionary which reads:
The church militant is the Christian church on earth, which is supposed to be engaged in a constant warfare against its enemies; thus distinguished from the Church Triumphant, or the church in heaven.
According to this the Lord Jesus Christ's church which is his body is to be engaged in warfare at this time.
This is not to be the time of the Church Triumphant, but the time of the Church militant.
But unfortunately when you look around today we find the recreational church, the play church, the church that is involved in anything but warfare.
But Christ does not give these instructions to the recreational church but the Church militant, the church which must have true disciples in order to be militant.
The requirement that Jesus Christ be first, ahead of those of this world such as your father, and mother, and wife, and children, reminds me of a requirement that is applied to every soldier in the Army, every sailor, every airmen, and every marine that enlists and commits himself to protect this nation.
I remember clearly about this time of year 38 years ago in 1968 being given orders to proceed to the Republic of Vietnam where this nation was engaged in a very controversial war.
I had been in the Navy for 7 years and was presently stationed in Virginia, comfortably settled with my wife and two small children.
The orders I received were concise and to the point and read in typical military fashion as follows.
This will be very familiar to those of you who have been in the military for military orders do not waste words in platitudes.
You'll notice that they never ever contain the word please!
Now notice that there was no consultation with my wife concerning these orders.
She is not even on the “copy to:” list nor was there any consideration for my mother's desire for me not be in harm's way.
Don't you think it was thoughtless of the Navy not to ask my wife's permission for me to go to a war zone?
Didn't the Navy know that I had two little children that needed their father especially in their formative years?
Didn't my mother have some authority to override such an disgusting order which would put her dear son into a place where men were actually shooting bullets at each other and rockets were being lobbed at his place of abode?
Of course she did not have any such authority!
My wife's opinion nor my mother's opinion did not matter to the Navy for the Navy owned me and had full authority to tell me to go here or to go there and the Navy couldn’t care less about their opinions.
I was in the military and the military must operate by these stringent policies in order to carry out its mission to protect our country.
There was a higher calling here than the welfare of my family for it concerned the welfare of all families.
The Apostle Paul knew that the body of Christ was to be a militant body.
He knew the word of the Lord recorded here in Luke 14 and therefore he was right to instruct Timothy in a way which supported our Lord’s instructions.
2 Timothy 2:1-4, Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 3Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
So this is what a disciple is about!
He is at war and being at war he is not allowed to entangle himself in the affairs of this life as other men who are at peace.
He is about the pleasing of the Master who desires that he engage in warfare.
He is to be about the doing of whatever pleases Christ.
And Christ is pleased when he is first and his will is first.
And so was the Navy pleased when I complied with my orders and left my young wife and two small children to go half way around the world on behalf of my country.
One thing you soon learn in the military is not to be so entangled so that you cannot comply with orders immediately.
Entangle means to involve in anything complicated, anything from which it is difficult to free one's self.
Entanglement is the inability to separate oneself from the affairs of this life.
I remember well the strict code that the Marines were bound by in Vietnam.
I could go to the base exchange and buy anything I wanted but the Marines were restricted to personal hygiene items.
Small items that would not hinder their ability to separate themselves from the affairs of this life.
They could not buy a television or large electronic gadgets that would hinder their movements for they were to be efficient fighting machines.
Think about a Marine going to Paris Island for training.
Other services have lists of what you should or should not bring with you.
The Marines make it simple: Don't bring anything except your important papers and the clothes on your back which will be taken from you quickly.
Everything you need will be issued to you and what you need is decided by the Marines.
Over-the-counter medication is not allowed in basic training.
If any is brought, it will be taken away.
All prescription medication will be re-evaluated by a military doctor upon arrival and if approved by the doctor will be taken away and re-issued by the military pharmacy.
Perhaps all Marine pills are marine green!
Before anyone on base sees the new recruit his hair is removed so he does not look like his former self.
Discipline starts the second the recruit walks off the bus.
Marine Corps drill instructors are addressed loudly as "Sir," or "Ma'am."
The recruit won't even get into the building before he's given his first lesson -- Article 86 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibiting absence without leave.
Article 91 prohibits disobedience to a lawful order.
Article 93 prohibits disrespect to a senior officer.
Those are absolute, non-breakable laws that he will live by for the next 13 weeks.
During the first day and a half he'll complete paperwork processing, get his hair all cut off, turn in every single bit of civilian clothing and articles he owns, and be issued initial uniforms & field gear.
He will even learn the Marine way of going to the bathroom and taking a shower for everything is done by the numbers.
1. Line up
2. March to the shower head
3. Pull the ring and wet your head
4. Soap your head and face thoroughly
6. Soap your left arm. Etc.
You cannot even wear contact lenses during basic training.
You also cannot wear your civilian glasses, once you have been issued your official government-issue glasses which are not designed to promote self esteem.
The new recruit will even be expected to learn a brand new vocabulary.
You don't go "upstairs," you go "topside." You don't go downstairs, you go "down below."
Your bunk becomes a "rack." The latrine is a "head." The floor is a "deck." The walls are "bulkheads."
Third-person language is also a cardinal rule.
It's not "me," or "I," it's "this recruit."
It's not "them," or "us," it's "these recruits," or "those recruits."
But its not all hard for the recruit for the recruit does have some rights.
(a) Eight hours of uninterrupted sleep on most nights.
(b) One hour of free time daily, unless removed for punishment, and during processing, forming, weapons and field/combat training, and the Crucible Event.
(c) 20 minutes to consume each meal.
(d) Attend sick call.
(e) Attend scheduled religious services.
(f) Request mast via the chain-of-command.
(g) Make and receive emergency phone calls.
(h) Receive mail on the day it is received by the parent company except for Sundays, holidays, and during the Crucible Event.
(i) Send mail without fear of censorship.
(j) Make head calls.
(k) Use medication prescribed by a certified military medical officer.
The point that I am making by this long description of Marine training is that being a Marine requires a discipline.
A man or woman who desires to become a Marine must be a disciple and put themselves completely under those who can bring this transformation about.
For to be a Marine is to be a distinctive being.
Come out of Paris Island and you are different, you are not the same man or woman that went in 13 weeks prior.
And so too Jesus Christ desires to make distinctive men and women out of those who have come to him for salvation.
And he brings this truth to us by teaching about salt.
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.
Jesus is teaching us by this salt analogy that the impact of His disciples is not their large number, but their distinctiveness.
Very little salt is required to season a large quantity of food because salt has a very distinct flavor.
When salt loses its distinctness, it loses its value.
Great quantities of salt do not make up for its loss of saltiness nor do great quantities of un-salty Christians have any value.
Salt is only useful when it has the nature of salt.
A Christian is only useful when he has the nature of Christ.
So, too, great numbers of disciples do not guarantee great impact.
It is not the sheer number of disciples that matters, but it is their distinctness, their utter different-ness from the world.
The world will take little note of a large group of people who think, feel, and act like them.
The world will take note of a very few “disciples” who are Christ‑like, whose lives are distinctive.
This is the Lord Jesus Christ’s view of discipleship, but it is not the thinking of many Christians.
Many think that numbers matter when we see clearly that numbers do not matter to God, distinctiveness matters.
God sent prophets one at a time. Masses of men did not preach what the prophets preached.
When we recognize that power and impact does not come through the number of disciples, but through their dependence upon God and their distinctiveness, then we understand why Jesus did not seek a large following.
He then ends this passage by words which are again designed to separate.
He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
For he only desires disciples who will hear him which means those who will first trust him and then obey him.
He is not looking for people who are smart, Christ is smart.
He is not looking for talented people, Christ is talented.
He is not looking for the strong for Christ is strong.
He is simply looking for those who will be faithful to him and faithful to him above all others.