The Cost of Discipleship
25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
Observations and Reflections
Jesus’ words to the crowds following him into Jerusalem are words of warning, not encouragement. We cannot separate this teaching from what is about to take place once he enters the city. In Luke’s narrative, Jesus is about to enter Jericho on his way into Jerusalem. Once there he will be betrayed, beaten, and handed over to the crowds that will murder him. These people who want to follow Jesus and become disciples do not know what they are asking for. They do not know the agony and sorrow that is about to befall Jesus and the current disciples. Therefore, before becoming a disciple of Jesus, he is warning them that the road ahead will be much to difficult if they are not willing to give up everything.
Jesus uses an illustration to demonstrate just what things are going to be like if they follow him and are not prepared. They will be like the builder that has to give up before the project is finished due to bankruptcy. It will be an embarrassing affair. Or they will be like the king that goes to war with too few troops and has to forfeit the battle. Therefore, they must choose wisely and deliberately to follow Jesus and not be attached to anything in this world.
Like Lot’s wife, there will be turning back without consequences.
Being a follower of Christ means to completely and fully give up all that we have to follow after Him. It is placing Christ first before every other relationship and material possession that we own and saying that our love for Christ is above all else. It is truly committing your life to following after Him without fear or regard to what consequences may lie ahead.
You cannot claim to love God and then attempt to put your earthly desires and possession on the same level. Jesus is going to extreme to say that loving God and following after Him gives us true satisfaction and joy. He also wants to realize that the cost following after Him is either all in or not at all. We cannot be living a life that is half or slightly committed to Jesus Christ.
Jesus knows that the cost is great and yet He also knows that to not follow after Him would result in missing out on an eternal relationship with Him and experiencing true joy and hope that we cannot find anywhere else. The world promises to give us but a mere feeling of temporary joy in our lives. It does not take much to follow after the world and our earthly desires. There is no sacrifice in gaining what the world has to offer. Yet, at the end of the day, the cost of giving all that up is worth it because Jesus Christ holds what the world cannot offer; everlasting joy that can never be taken away as long as we keep pursuing Him.