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The Cost of Discipleship

Lk 9: 23  He said to all, "If anyone desires to come after me,
  • let him deny himself,
  • take up his cross, and
  • follow me.

  • 24  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it,
    but whoever will lose his life for my sake, the same will save it.
    25  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world,
    and loses or forfeits his own self?

    26  For whoever will be ashamed of me and of my words,
    of him will the Son of Man be ashamed, when he comes in his glory,
    and the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels.

    Lk 9:
    57  As they went on the way, a certain man said to him,
    "I want to follow you wherever you go, Lord."
    58  Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests,
    but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

    59  He said to another, "Follow me!" But he said,
    "Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father."
    60  But Jesus said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead,
    but you go and announce the Kingdom of God."

    61  Another also said, "I want to follow you, Lord,
    but first allow me to bid farewell to those who are at my house."
    62  But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow,
    and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God."

    Lk 14:
    25  Now great multitudes were going with him. He turned and said to them,
    26  "If anyone comes to me, and doesnít hate his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he canít be my disciple.
    27  Whoever doesnít bear his own cross, and come after me, canít be my disciple.

    28  For which of you, desiring to build a tower,
    doesnít first sit down and count the cost,
    to see if he has enough to complete it?
    29  Or perhaps, when he has laid a foundation, a
    nd is not able to finish, everyone who sees begins to mock him,
    30  saying, ĎThis man began to build, and wasnít able to finish.í

    31  Or what king, as he goes to encounter another king in war,
    will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand
    to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
    32  Or else, while the other is yet a great way off,
    he sends an envoy, and asks for conditions of peace.

    33  So therefore whoever of you who doesnít renounce all that he has,
    he canít be my disciple.

    Related Parables:


    Each person has their own particular desires and goals and expectations in life. But a disciple gives up these and replaces them with Jesus' desires and goals and expectations. These incorporate all of life. To follow Jesus, we may have to deny our own desires, goals, expectations when it comes to: vocation, location, pleasures, family, friends, time, attitudes, activities, lifestyle  - what we say, think, feel and do, just as Jesus said, "Not my will but Your's be done".

    Taking up our Cross
    Jesus took up the cross in submission to God's will. In following the Lord there are many burdens to bear. We are not called to an easy life but to a godly life - a life in which God is the center.

    Follow Jesus
    The Christian life is not just a matter of being "good" and not sinning for it also incorporates submitting oneself to the Lordship of Christ. What is the difference between a "good" non-Christian and a true believer? One difference is that the believer submits to Christ as Lord. But the Christian life even goes beyond this. A disciple is a follower of Jesus. The idea behind following Jesus incorporates and goes beyond the idea of  just submitting and obeying Him. A slave submits to his master, but a son follows his father's example. Yes, a son is expected to obey, but as he matures, the father expects him to follow his example. So also in the Christian life. See "The Following Jesus Series" for an elaboration on this and particular applications.

    Losing our life
    The Christian needs to let go of their worldly ambitions and waste their lives on Jesus, much as the woman in Matthew 26 who wasted her expensive perfume on Jesus. There is nothing that the world can offer which can compare with the rewards of a life of service to the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Though Christians should be wise and gracious in presenting the teachings of Jesus and his apostles to others, we certainly should not be ashamed of or feel embarrased by what has been written. For the world will subject Christians to humilation. That's just a part of the Christian life. But Paul writes: "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." Rom 1:16 Confidence is characteristic of conviction. And confidence also communicates conviction, which affects the receiving of the message. "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded." Heb 10:35

    "Going" vs "Being"
    In following Christ there are crosses to bear, humilation to face, and sacrifices to make. But some will make half-way commitments to follow. There are those who limit their commitment to simply "going" from one place to another. They limit discipleship to things like going to an institutional church, going to seminary, or going to a mission field. But following Jesus is not simply about "going" and "arriving". It's about "becoming" and "being". These locations don't need simply another body. They need Christlike ones. For Jesus spoke of the hypocrites among the Pharisees saying, "You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are." Mat 23:15 Therefore let's be less concerned about going to this place or that place, and let's be more concerned about being like Jesus.

    Let the dead bury their dead
    It is most likely that the man's father had not yet died, but that this man in Luke 9:59 was asking to wait until his father died and then he would follow Jesus. At issue here are cultural responsibilities within one's family. Without Jesus, the fulfilling of our earthly responsibilities is like dead people burying dead people. This is not to say that one should not fulfill their earthly responsibilities, but life comes first. Which is more important, burying someone who is dead, or bringing the dead to life? If he first followed Jesus, he could bring life back to his family. Otherwise without Jesus, this life is vain. It is is one of death, waiting to be buried. Many times I've heard people say that will follow Jesus or live the Christian life but only after they've fulfilled some other responsibilities. They just don't get it. If you aren't following Jesus you are dead. And only in vain does the dead bury their dead.

    Putting one's hand to the plow and looking back
    To look back is to play to role of Lot's wife. These are halfway Christians, not committed to progressing forward in their Christian life. Among them are those Peter refers to in 2Pet 2:22 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." But Paul writes: "This one thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead." Php 3:13 If we're not committed to going all the way to the promise land, then we are unfit for it and will die in the desert.

    In Luke 9:62 the NIV says "fit for service in the kingdom of God", but the Greek just says "fit for the kingdom of God", which is how most other versions translate it. For not only are such people not fit for service in the kingdom, they are also not suitable for entrance into the kingdom.
    Hating one's family
    What did Jesus mean by hating one's family? I think he is speaking about one's attitude relative to Christ.
    Luke 16:13  "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other."
    Our devotion to Jesus should be so much greater than our devotion to our family that it is like contrasting love and hatred.
    John 12:25  "The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life."
    What if we were to replace "life" with "family". This would say "The man who loves his family will lose it, while the man who hates his family in this world will keep it for eternal life." Many lead their families straight into hell by "loving" them more than Jesus. The best thing we can do for our families and for ourselves is to follow Jesus. So let us follow and obey Jesus, regardless of what our families say.

    NIV used in comments
    The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jan 29,2022