Luke 14:25-35 Radical Commitment to Christ WC McCarter
If I were to take a survey this morning—pass a blank page to everyone here—asking you to write down what it means to be committed to Christ, do you think that we would have mostly the same responses written down? Would it only be the most positive things or the most enjoyable things? Or, would you mention the whole truth such as the suffering and hardship?
Commitment seems to be an issue for Americans today. Whether it be at school, work, in the home, or in the Christian life. Employees are lazy, wandering in late, taking long lunches, and never helping to pick up slack. In the home commitment to parenting and marriage is lacking today. In the Christian life we have equated it to calling oneself a “Christian” and of having “eternal” life which really doesn’t have anything to do with this life. But, we know that commitment to Christ means much more than that.
What does it mean to commit to Christ? That is the subject of today’s sermon.
Take a look at the context with me. Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath who had dropsy, that is, some kind of abnormal swelling of his body. There were lawyers and Pharisees who kept a close eye on Him and surely were not happy about Him “working” on the Sabbath with He performed the healing miracle. So, Jesus told two parables about eating at the great banquet of the kingdom. Before the people could get comfortable and excited about entering into the kingdom of God, Jesus teaches them in verses 25-35 what the costs are of entering into that kingdom. The way to the banquet is long, hard, and narrow.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Hating Your Family (25-26)
The first qualification of following Christ is that you must hate your own family. Now, Jesus does not promote hate. We all know that to be true. But, what does He mean? This has been shown to be a Hebrew idiom, that is, a figure of speech that does not mean what it seems to mean on the surface. Take a look at Rom 9:10-13, “And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, ‘The older shall serve the younger’ (Gen 25:23). As it is written, ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated’ (Mal 1:2-3).” The idiom of hating someone is about preference. Just as God preferred Jacob over Esau, we are to prefer Christ over our families and all relationships. Just as God chose Jacob over Esau, we are to choose Christ over all other people.
If you cannot do this, then you cannot be Christ’s disciple.
Bearing Your Cross (27)
The second qualification that the Lord gives to those who may be His disciples is that they must bear their own crosses and go after Him. Now, we know that this cannot refer to the same kind of cross that Jesus bore. He was the unique and perfect sacrifice for the sin of the world. His sacrifice was a substitutionary atonement in behalf of all those who will come to Him by faith. The cross that Jesus bore was a once-for-all sacrifice. So, bearing your cross cannot be the same thing as the cross that Jesus bore, but it must still refer to sacrifice. It obviously refers to pain, suffering, hardship, even death, and it refers to sacrifice. That sacrifice that Jesus’ followers must give is not the same as His. It is not for sin. It is not for your sin or any other sin. It is not to secure eternal life for yourself. Only Christ’s sacrifice can offer heaven and eternal life. The cross that we must bear as Christ’s disciples is a sacrifice for the cause of Christ. It is certainly related to hating one’s own life. You are called to prefer and choose heaven over earth, the kingdom over the world, Christ over just a few years in this age.
If you are not willing to live as a “living sacrifice” for the cause of Christ, then you cannot be His disciple. If you are not willing to lay down your life for the cause of Christ, then you cannot be His disciple.
Internal Summary: Before you get too excited about the offer of eternal life, the hope of heaven, and entrance into the great banquet of the kingdom, Jesus wants you to understand the whole picture. He gives two warnings about the commitment required for discipleship: (1) Hating your family and own life, and (2) Bearing your cross and following after Him.
Two Parables about Commitment (28-32)
First Parable: The Tower Builder
Anyone who enters into a building project must first count the cost. There is probably no greater shame for a builder than to start the project and not be able to finish it because they have run out of funds. That kind of builder is mocked by the world around him.
Second Parable: The Warring King
No king, or president for that matter, goes to war with another nation without first considering how many troops will be needed to defeat the enemy. For example, will it take 10,000 soldiers or 20,000? The king who does not figure these things, and figure them well, is put to great shame and must send out a delegation to the rival nation asking for peace. He will have to submit to the rival.
Internal Summary: What is Jesus point with these two parables? You better count the cost of discipleship before committing to Christ.
Two Warnings about Commitment (33-35)
First Warning: Willingness to Give Up Possessions
Is this equivalent to what Jesus tells the rich young ruler, that is, you must go and sell all your possessions, give the proceeds to the poor, and then follow Christ? I do not think that Jesus calls on all of us to do the same thing, but the principle is the same. If you trust your possessions more than Christ, you cannot be His disciple. You must treasure Him above all your treasures here. I think that is why Jesus said what He did to the young ruler—He knew his heart. That young man trusted in his possessions more than he did in God. What is it in your life that if the Lord asked you to give it up, you would have to think about it, and maybe would not even be willing to give it up? For the third time, Christ has given this warning—if you cannot do __________, then you cannot be My disciple.
Second Warning: Uselessness of Unseasoned Salt
Jesus uses salt on more than one occasion as an illustration of single-minded devotion (“for example, you are the salt of the earth”) here in the context of discipleship. As one commentators says, It “applies to the characteristics Jesus has just enumerated: the readiness ‘to renounce kin, comfortable living, and life itself for the sake of being Jesus’ disciple.’ A false form of discipleship may look like salt, but the gradual process of leaching leaves only a zestless pile of waste” (Garland).
Conclusion and Christian Application
So, Jesus challenges those that think that they are righteous, based on their own standards, and the multitudes to single-minded devotion, calling on all of us to reevaluate, to count the cost. He teaches us about the total demand of discipleship, single-minded devotion, calling on us to renounce all things in preference for Himself. He warns us to count the cost of following Him, but I would leave you with this: count the cost of not following Him as well. What would you be left with? A nice house, new cars, a little bit of money in the bank, somewhat comfortable living in this life? The treasures of this world do not compare to the eternal rewards in the next for those who follow Christ through suffering into glory.
A person’s commitment to Christ is the chief priority above all else, and, at the same time, every other commit flows from it.