In vs 26, the hatred Jesus refers to is simply one of preference. A disciple's preference for Jesus makes their preference for their family seem like hatred in comparison. Even while ministering, Jesus didn't make much of his own family.
Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you." He replied to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." Matt 12:47-50And also he states:
"Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life." Mt 19:29This preference for following Christ must extend even to one's own life. These are not optional. Lacking these, Jesus plainly states, "he cannot be my disciple." Far from being the Santa Claus figure he is often portrayed as, Jesus does not allow people to be his disciples if they prefer anything more than him.
When Jesus mentioned each should carry his cross, realize that he had not been crucified yet. So at that time they may not have pictured Jesus carrying a cross. But rather, the Romans were publically crucifying people both innocent and guilty. So the crowds had no doubt seen the condemned carrying their cross to the place they would be tortured to death. This was not a pleasant picture of discipleship. It's not liking skipping down the road singing songs in a light hearted manner throwing flower pedals in the air. It's bloody and full of hardship. It demands discipline, self-control, and determination. One is going to be subjected to persecution, mockery, and humiliation. The world will consider you a fool and a failure. These were all characteristics Jesus demonstrated and was subject to in going to the cross.
2. Counting the Cost
Building a Tower
Jesus is not interested in making half-way disciples. Yet that is what appears to be dominant in popular Christianity. Half-way Christians have caused God to be dishonored and Christ to be ridiculed. Skeptics point out the hypocrisy of these people and use it to question the credibility of Christ and his message, just as Paul wrote of the Jews, "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." Rom 2:24 And Jesus says of the Laodiceans, "because you are lukewarm-- neither hot nor cold-- I am about to spit you out of my mouth." Rev 3:16
Half-way Christians are like the seed that fell among rocks. At first they welcomed the message with joy, "believing" for a while until trials came, and they fell away. If we decide to follow Christ, we need to be serious about it, and not treat it as simply a church picnic.
Preparing for War
Being a disciple is a battle. Going to church is like going to war - Onward Christian Soldiers. You don't go up against tanks and machine guns with clubs and bow and arrows. And you can't just walk into the middle of a battle field and then change your mind, thinking that you are going to escape injury.
"If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning." 2Pet 2:20Half-way Christians may actually end up worst off than if they hadn't come to know about Christ. For the more you know, the more you will be held responsible for.
The faith that Christ demands is not a trivial thing, but a conviction.
Christ came to serve us so that we may serve Him. "And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2Cor 5:15 Half-heartedness can make us useless and even bring on condemnation.
"If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud." 2Pet 2:20-22
|To those who followed him did Jesus indicate
If any come to me but really does not hate
His parents and his children and even his own wife
His brothers and his sisters and even his own life
Is not qualified to follow me
This is a cross he must carry
Suppose you want to build a nice tall tower.
Wouldn't you sit down perhaps for an hour
And estimate how much it would cost to build?
For it won't get built just because you willed.
You'll be ridiculed if you can't complete it.
Then you'll feel completely defeated.
Or suppose a king goes out to war.
He has some men, but the other has more.
Will he not consider whether he can win.
He certainly would before the battle did begin.
If he cannot, he'll send a delegation.
And ask for terms of peace from that other nation.
So the cost to follow me is everything you've got
To follow in the way I go, there is no short-cut.
It is good to follow me, just as salt is good
But if you fall away, you've not understood
Salt can't be restored when it's lost its taste
It just cannot be used, but is thrown out as waste
The Berean Christian Bible Study ResourcesMay 10,2010