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Gospel according to Luke 14: 25-33 (NIV)
25 Large crowds were travelling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even their own life – such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish’.
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”
Why do we follow Jesus? Is it for the promise of good things in this life or so that we may progress through life feeling self-righteous? Is it because there is no other to whom we may turn, as the Apostle Peter realised: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6: 68)?
Jesus, no doubt aware that large crowds were travelling with him and that the commitment of many in the crowds was, to say the least, questionable threw down this “challenge”. It is a valid challenge for his followers in every generation since then.
“Those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (verse 33).
There is a cost; the cost is total surrender to him and to his will. Jesus pointed out that every potential follower must consider that cost in advance and must think through all the implications, not only for the immediate future but for all of one’s earthly life.
Plan like a builder who works to a set of drawings, costs all the materials and labour and allows for uncertainties before even marking out the site for the new building. It may be that the building is never commenced because the cost is beyond the builder’s resources.
Plan like a military commander. Make a formal appreciation of the situation. Compare “enemy forces” and “friendly forces”. Consider relative strengths, timings, weather, tactics and the implications of failure before embarking on a military campaign. It may even be necessary to sue for peace!
Jesus often used hyperbole for emphasis; it appears this was the case when he spoke of the need for total loyalty to himself. That loyalty had to exceed even one’s loyalty to family: the love for father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, even of life itself! Perhaps the cost will not be such that complete separation from family is required of a follower of Jesus however each follower needs to be conscious of the possible cost from the outset and must be willing to make that sacrifice, if required, for the Lord.
Why do we follow Jesus? The cost of surrendering totally to him is far exceeded by the joy of spending eternity with him.