Today’s Thought: Are you ready to say, “Not my will but yours be done” … and mean it?
It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
This week, we’ve read how Jesus’s humanity has shown itself during times of frustration and exhaustion, as we’ve wrestled to understand the context and meaning of words that don’t ‘sound like’ Jesus. He has described his message as being divisive, as well as one reserved first for Jews in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. Today, in Luke 14, Jesus challenges our assumptions again… this time by asking our willingness to pay the price of discipleship.
Throughout the gospels, Jesus is said to be frequently followed by large crowds of people wanting to hear him preach, as well as perform healings for them. Some were also interested in becoming his disciples. On this particular day, Jesus says, Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple (v26-27).
You’re probably thinking… Here we go again. Jesus can’t possibly mean we must hate our families in order to follow him, can he? The answer is, yes and no. The word translated here as “hate” is a Semitic word (includes Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic languages) that means “to turn away from” or “to detach oneself from another.” It’s not the vitriolic enmity that we envision when we use the word hate in modern English.
Still, it calls for one to be willing to leave his or her family members—even life as he or she knows it—in order to follow Jesus. In the immediately preceding parable, Jesus had been talking about those who make excuses rather than devote themselves to service. That’s the context of Jesus’s comments here. He’s saying, don’t volunteer for discipleship unless you’re willing to stand up for your beliefs—maybe even against family members—and willing to make serious changes to your own life.
Jesus also gives a couple of examples when you must carefully consider the cost of something before you make a final decision: building a tower and waging a war. Before doing either of these things, a person must think about what’s needed to proceed, as well as what the consequences may be afterward. Discipleship is not to be entered into lightly based on emotions alone; it is a serious decision that can significantly change your life. You must consider the cost.
So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions (v33). Again, Jesus is speaking in the context of giving up familiar things—things you might love—because they conflict with spreading the gospel. There can’t be anything in your life that you place higher and consider more valuable than God. What Jesus is saying is actually just another form of YHWH’s Old Testament commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 5:7).
Not my will but yours. Think about it.
Friday Faithful: “Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price,’ and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship