Dedicated to Jesus: Luke 14:25-35

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As we continue looking at the events in Jesus’ life, and the big truths Jesus taught through the eyes of Luke’s gospel, we come to a place where Jesus realizes that many of those following Him might be doing so simply because they wanted to be near someone famous, but that their hearts were not dedicated to God.

To challenge those present on whether they are truly ready to be followers, we discover a very strong message Jesus shares while large crowds were following Him.

Our passage for this podcast episode is found in Luke’s gospel, chapter 14, and we will read it from the New International Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 25, Luke tells us:

25 Large crowds were traveling 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.

34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

In this passage, Jesus shares a very strong message to the large crowd following Him. I suspect that many people in this large crowd wanted to be near Jesus because they enjoyed seeing Him silence the Pharisees, because they enjoyed seeing the miracles, and because they could sense God’s love for them in Him.

However, I also suspect that this large crowd was primarily filled with people who liked Jesus for all the good He was doing, but they really weren’t committed to Him in any significant sense of the word. You could say these people were followers of Jesus, but they really weren’t committed to Him.

To those in the crowd who were simply following Jesus because the times were good, Jesus challenges them with some pretty harsh statements like: “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.” “Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” And “those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (verses 26-27, 33).

Everything in Jesus’ challenge to the crowd speaks to a level of commitment. In order to be true disciples of Jesus, He must be more than simply first in our lives. True disciples will filter their lives through Jesus, and not the other way around.

On the surface, this passage seems to have Jesus tell those present to hate their family, hate their life, and pick up a cross of suffering simply to follow Him. If someone wanted to turn Jesus’ message into a hostile message that ostracized, or excluded individuals, this might be a message one could use. On the surface, one might think following Jesus means turning into a hate-filled hermit.

However, when I read this message Jesus shares, I am challenged by His words because if following Jesus does not have much of a commitment, then following Jesus doesn’t have much value. A low commitment relationship has little value. The more committed a relationship is, the more valuable it is – especially when we are talking about a relationship with God!

While Jesus likely pushed many in the crowd away with this message, those who stayed demonstrated a willingness to commit to Jesus’ message. I don’t believe a surface reading of the hate statements in this passage are an accurate picture of the people God wants us to be. Instead, Jesus is looking for disciples who will follow Him even when their families, their friends, their coworkers, and anyone else in their lives think they are crazy.

Jesus challenges everyone throughout history to count the cost. Making the decision to follow Jesus has a high cost in this life because following Jesus runs counter to every direction culture wants to pull us. However, when we count the cost whether it is worth following Jesus, the only way the cost makes sense is when we look at what Jesus gives us in the future and what Jesus has already given to us in our past. Jesus gave His life for humanity; He promises eternal life for those who have decided to ally their lives with His!

Deciding to follow Jesus might mean that friends, family, or others might decide to distance themselves from us. When this happens, understand that this is just as much their decision as it is yours. However, remember that when we give up something in this life, God is ready to bless us in ways we can’t really begin to imagine or understand.

Many people living today call themselves Christians or followers of Jesus, but they aren’t really that committed to Him. They are followers of Jesus because things are going good in their lives at the moment. However, being committed means that we are dedicated to Jesus whether things in our lives go our way or whether our lives become hard. Being a disciple of Jesus means sticking with God even if our lives feel like the Old Testament man Job who lost everything.

Deciding to be a disciple of Jesus is not an easy decision, but it is a significant one. Deciding to be a disciple of Jesus might mean that we simply follow Him when times are good, but it also means that we stick with Him when times are not good, and following Jesus allows God to use us to teach the world about Himself.

True disciples will filter their lives through Jesus, and not the other way around. True disciples don’t hate people because Jesus didn’t hate people. Instead, true disciples love people like Jesus loved people and true disciples will see their lives as witnesses for God’s love and God’s truth in the big picture of history. True disciples look past the sin of this world and towards their future in a perfectly recreated world without sin!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As always, intentionally seek God first in your life. If you struggle with your commitment to God, then take this struggle to God in prayer. While I never hope God brings huge challenges into our lives, some challenges our lives may face can only ever be endured with God by our side. It is fully possible that trouble in our lives is a way of teaching us how to walk with God through the challenges rather than God simply protecting us from them. True disciples stay committed and walk with God through the challenges that come our way instead of giving up at the first sign of struggle.

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself. Only through prayer and study can we build a solid spiritual foundation to stay connected with God through the storms of life. Choose to focus on growing closer to God regardless of what anyone in your life thinks or believes about your decision!

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year in Luke – Episode 29: In one of His most challenging messages, discover how Jesus doesn’t want us to hate those closest to us. Instead, discover how we should filter our lives through His life and the mission He brings into history!

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