Theme: Two Shocking Truths
This week’s lessons focus on the high price of new relationships that must be paid to follow Christ.
Scripture: Luke 14:26
1. The radical demands of Christ’s kingdom. Over the years that I have been in Christian work I have been asked to serve on a number of boards of Christian organizations, and to the extent that I have had time I have been glad to do so. I have done everything I am able to do for these organizations. But I have not left father or mother or wife or children in order to assume these responsibilities. In fact, I have not surrendered any other legitimate responsibility to serve those boards.
Christ’s statements about the demands of His kingdom are not like that. We think of most work as something that can be taken on and then later dropped (if it pleases us to drop it) with no great issues involved. But when Jesus presented the demands of His kingdom it was always as that which demanded the most radical commitment on the part of His followers. It was not something that could be taken up and then dropped. It was not to be a part-time occupation.
2. The unique authority of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ statement that unless a person hates father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters —yes, even his own life—he cannot be His disciple, also teaches the unique authority of Jesus. For who would dare say such a thing unless He possessed unique authority? Who but God could make such demands?
This was the great issue confronting those who followed Jesus during the days of His earthly ministry. When He first began to teach they marveled, because He taught as one who had authority and not as the scribes (Matt. 7:29). When He quieted the storm on the Sea of Galilee those who were with Him were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him” (Matt. 8:27)! When He forgave the sins of the paralytic the teachers of the law asked themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone” (Luke 5:21)? It became perfectly evident to these and others of Jesus’ contemporaries that He was speaking with more than human power and authority. Was He the Son of God? This was the great issue. As we know, some rejected that conclusion and eventually crucified Him as a blasphemer and deceiver. But those who recognized this authority (substantiated by His miracles) went on to the inevitable conclusion and worshiped Him as God.
If Jesus is God, then the demands of His kingdom become even more radical than we have hitherto imagined. When we hear Jesus saying that we must hate our fathers and mothers, wives and children, in order to be His disciples, that seems shockingly extreme. But if He is God, it is not extreme at all. If He is God, nothing He could possibly demand could be outrageous. If He is God, we owe Him total obedience and total self-surrender. Yes, even our own lives are not too much to give in His service.
On the other hand, the fact that Jesus is God makes the self-surrender all right. For God is not an arbitrary deity who has no concern for us and who, as we might wrongly imagine, has concern only for His own self-aggrandizement and glory. God made us. He has given us life and families and homes and a reasonable portion of this world’s goods to enjoy. These things are good precisely because they are made by God and are God’s gifts. It follows therefore that if God requires us to give up one or more of these things in a specific situation—as a pioneer missionary might have to do in order to take the gospel to remote and dangerous areas of the world—it is because the demand, hard as it may appear, is nevertheless good in that particular situation. If God is commanding, what is commanded is good for others and for ourselves as well.
What is the first shocking truth concerning the cost of salvation?
What is the second truth? What does this reveal about Jesus?
Application: What are some radical demands you have been called to follow in your Christian life?