Theme: Beyond Accounting
This week’s lessons focus on the high price of new relationships that must be paid to follow Christ.
Scripture: Luke 14:26
Yesterday we concluded by offering another way to understand our passage, which was that Jesus was speaking in hyperbole; that is, he was intentionally exaggerating in order to make a point.
But there are a number of reasons for thinking that this may be too facile a handling. For one thing, it is probably not a proper interpretation of the word “worthy” in Matthew 10. We take that word lightly. “No one is worthy of Christ,” we think, and we dismiss it. That is probably not what Jesus meant. When He said, “Anyone who fails to do so-and-so is not worthy of me,” He probably meant precisely what He said in Luke 14:26, namely, “he cannot be my disciple,” which means, “he cannot be saved.”
Second, the context makes Matthew’s statement stronger than it first appears. It is true that in verse 37 Jesus speaks merely of loving one’s father, mother, son, or daughter more than himself. But in the verses immediately before this He says two very important things. First, He speaks of our failing to acknowledge Him before men, saying, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven” (vv. 32, 33). That is speaking of salvation or a loss of it. Second, He speaks of bringing divisions to this world. “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household’” (vv. 34–36).
It is after this that Jesus speaks of loving a father or mother, son or daughter more than himself. In this context the words in Matthew are not essentially different from those in Luke. Both speak of a situation in which one must make a choice between Christ or other persons (even members of one’s own family), and they declare that one cannot be Christ’s follower without rejecting anyone who is opposed to Him or who would exercise a higher position of affection and authority in the disciple’s life.
Luke 14:25–33 contains three sentences each ending with the words “cannot be my disciple.” The first says that unless we hate members of our family—yes, even our own lives—we cannot be Christ’s disciples. The second says that unless we take up our crosses and follow Christ we cannot be his disciples. The third says that if we do not give up everything we have, we cannot be Christ’s disciples. These are three ways of saying that we must count the cost in all areas and at all times if we would be a Christian.
But it is even more than this! In the last chapter I began with Jesus’ words about counting the cost in Luke 14:28–33, deliberately passing over verses 26 and 27. It was because counting the cost was the more basic idea. Here, by going back, we go beyond mere cost-accounting. We ask whether we are willing to pay the most painful of all costs for salvation. The statement batters us with four profoundly shocking truths.
What answers are given for why Jesus was not speaking in hyperbole, and that he is talking about a high price to pay if we would be one of his disciples?
In Luke 14:25-33, what is the common expression in the three sentences? What does it teach?
Reflection: Have there been any times in your life when you had to deal with tension and competing choices between your Christian confession and unsaved family members? How did you work through that situation?