The Conditions of Discipleship!!!
Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
“Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear…… Luke 14:24-35
In our last study, we were considering the Exhortation Jesus gave the Pharisees who invited Him to eat bread in His house and to those that were invited also. We concluded that whoever humbles Himself will be Exalted and those who Exalts themselves will be Humbled. Here, we see the conditions of Discipleship. There is no place in the Bible which states the conditions of Discipleship clearly and expressly like this place. And the Parables and illustrations highlights this facts.
Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.: Anyone who comes, it applies to everyone and not just a group of believers. There is no partiality with God. He mentioned seven things. Father, mother, wife, Children, brothers and sisters and our own life. We can say four different Groups, namely Our Parent(Father and Mother), Our immediate Family(Wife and Children), Our Fellow Believers in the Church(Brothers and Sisters) and finally Our Soul Life(That life that we have inherited from Adam). What are we to do to these groups? We are to HATE them!!! What a strong Word. Jesus always selected His words carefully. He never used one word when he should have used another. But here we see Him using very strong language. 1 John 3:15 says, ” Whoever hates his brother is a murderer” Hatred is the root from which murder comes. Applying this Definition to this passage, we can understand this passage a little more clearly. You see, there is a natural affection that we have for our parents and relatives. What we are asked to put to death here is the natural affection that we have for our relatives. Does that mean that we are not to love them? No. It certainly doesn’t mean that. When we give up our human affection for them, God will replace it with Divine love. Our love for our relatives will then be pure – in the sense that God will always be first in our affections, and not our relatives. Many don’t obey God because they are afraid to offend their father, mother or wife etc., The Lord demands first place in our life. And if we don’t give Him that place, we can’t be His disciples. Jesus must be Lord of all in our lives, or He will not be Lord at all. Look at Jesus’ own example when He was on earth. Although He loved His widowed mother, yet He never allowed her to influence Him away from the perfect will of His Father, even in small matters. We see an example of this at the marriage at Cana where He refused to act on His mother’s promptings (John 2:4). Jesus also taught us how to ‘hate’ our brothers. When Peter tried to turn Him away from going to the cross, He turned around and rebuked him with the sharpest words that He ever uttered to any human being. He said, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me ” (Matt. 16:23). Peter had made his suggestion with a lot of human love. But Jesus rebuked him, because what Peter had suggested was contrary to the Father’s will. The Father was always supreme in Jesus’ affections. He expects us to have the same attitude towards Him too. After His resurrection, the Lord asked Peter whether he loved Him more than everything else on earth, before making him a shepherd in the church (John 21:15-17). Only those who love the Lord supremely are given responsibilities in His church. The leader of the Ephesian church was in danger of being rejected because he had lost his initial devotion for the Lord (Rev. 2:1-5). If we can say, like the psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven, Lord, but Thee? And besides Thee I desire nothing on earth,” then we have truly fulfilled the first condition of discipleship (Psalms 73:25). The love that Jesus demands from us is not the emotional, sentimental, human affection that expresses itself in singing stirring songs of devotion to Him. No. If we love Him, we will obey Him (John14:21) . This natural affection can influence the decision we make in
We must love Jesus supremely such that our natural attachments is Cut off and replaced with a divine love so that none of them ever hinder us from following the Lord. Many people have not been able to become Disciples because they allowed themselves to be influenced by their parents, their wife, family members or other brothers and sisters in the Church and thus miss God’s best for their lives. It is very important we fulfill this Condition if we are to become the Disciples of Jesus.
And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. : The second condition is very connected to the last thing we have to hate in the previous condition. We have to hate our own Life!!! This is not a message we normally hear. You hardly hear anyone saying in Christendom today that You have to hate Your Life. Jesus repeated this same thing in John 12:24-25, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life”. If we hate our lives in this world, then we will keep it in eternity. How many people have understood this as a way to Eternal Life? There is a Life called our Self Life. That Soulish life that we have inherited from Adam. That Life that has been corrupted with Sin, that Life which seeks it’s own. That life which is not interested in the things of God, that life which seeks its own advancement even after being born again. There is a soul life that is still alive in us even after we are born again. Maybe previously we were seeking our own in the World but now that we are born again, that life makes us seek our own even in the Church. Formally, we were seeking how other people could serve us but now, we are seeking How God can serve us. That life that always seeks it’s own benefits, gain, profit even through Christianity. This is why you will find multitude who come to the meeting where it is advertised that, “Jesus would heal You”. Who is there who does not want healing or blessings from the Lord? But Jesus never advertised such meetings. He invited people to come and Die to themselves. The expression “carry the Cross” means to go and Die. If you were living in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus, and you saw a Man carrying a Cross, they all understood it that such Man has said goodbye to the world and is on His way to go and Die. This is the way the Romans kill criminal of those days. So Jesus was saying Here, “If you want to follow Me, You have to say Goodbye to the world in the same way and Die. You have to die to yourself and your own interests. Very few people have understood this and even among the few that understood it, only few have chosen it as a way of Life. Yet Jesus says, “You cannot become His Disciples unless You Die!!!” You have to Die to your name, reputation, ego, rights,. You have to murder that self life that leads you away from God. It is this self life that is attracted to various Sinful things in the world. John the Baptist said, “Jesus has come to lay the axe at the root of the Tree(Matt 310):” It is of no use taking off the fruits like saying I have given up drinking, and certain bad habits. That’s just the fruit!!! What about the root from which this fruits came? That root is this corrupt self life that we have inherited from Adam. Jesus came to lay the axe at this root. He came in our flesh and lay the axe to the lust in the Flesh and overcame. He was tempted at all points exactly as we are yet without Sin(Hebrews 4:15). Jesus did not Sin because He laid the axe at the root of the Tree. And this is how He has become an example for us and tells us to do the same. He has given us the power of the Holy Spirit to put the axe to the root of the lust within us so that they can be slain. This is the cross Jesus carried in His inner life in the 33 Years. He put to death the Lust in the Flesh and hence live a pure life. This is the secret of Godliness. We are to follow Jesus as Our Example. It will be impossible to follow Him if He Himself had nothing to put to Death. He did not come like an Angel from Heaven teaching us to swim. How can an Angel come here and teach us to swim? The Angel will fly across the swimming pool and when He says to us, “Follow Me”, we will say, “It is impossible because we have no wings”. But we see Jesus who became like us, He emptied Himself of all all prerogatives He had has God. And thus He became an Example for us all to follow. Our Self will must be put to death. That self will that we have inherited from our parents must be constantly put to death in the the power of the Holy Spirit.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? : This is a parable about the Christian life. The Christian life is like building a tower. It begins with laying a foundation. This foundation is described in Hebrews 6:1-2 which says, ” foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” some just laid this foundation and do nothing More. To complete this Tower, there is a price to be paid!!! So Jesus says, “Sit down first and count the cost”. Lest people will mock you saying, “This man says He is a Christian but look at Him, He is living and behaving like one of us”. This is the sad condition of many Christians who fall away because at the beginning, those who preach the Gospel to them never told them about Discipleship or the Cost of Discipleship. It is very important that when people hear the Gospel, they are also told the cost of Discipleship. If you are not willing to count the cost and pay the price, it is of no use starting. If you lay the Foundation for a house, it is not going to protect you from anything unless you cover it up. Only a fool will go and lay a foundation and go and live on that. Yet there are many Christians who just laid out he foundation in their lives, they want forgiveness of Sin, water baptism, baptism of the year Holy spirit and the gifts and then look forward to the coming of Christ and that’s all. Let us press on towards perfection and this can be achieved only through Discipleship.
Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. : Here, the Christian life is pictured as a battle. Who is the other king coming to battle against us? That’s the Devil. And He is coming with a much more powerful army than we have against Him. He is coming to knock us out. So what should we do? We have to sit down and consider whether we are strong enough to overcome Him. If I have become a Disciple, then I am strong enough to overcome Him just like Jesus overcame Him thoroughly at every point. As Jesus overcame the Devil, we can also overcome. But if I am not a Disciple, I am certainly not strong enough. If we are just believers who believe and we don’t want to be detached from attachments to Relatives and loved ones and our Soulish life then we will never be strong enough. The only way to build a complete Christian life is by becoming a Disciple. If not, Jesus says, “send a delegation to the other king” in other words, Be on the side of the Devil. You cannot be a Disciple of Jesus and be half hearted and Jesus would not want such person among His Soldiers in His War against the Devil.
So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.: Here comes the Third Condition of Discipleship. All is All. Our possessions are things that we consider as Our own. And Jesus says, “To become his Disciple, You must consider nothing as your own. Nothing means nothing!!! Everything must be given up. But to who? The Lord!!! Our lives, property, bank account, Job and every other properties must be given to the Lord. We are to say,” Lord all that I have is Yours!! ” He may still allow us to use some of it for our purpose but it is not ours. We are not to be attached to any material thing. Everything we have is for the Lord. It is something like Abraham offering Isaac. As far as Abraham is concerned, Issac has been killed and offered to the Lord. Although God gave Isaac back to Abraham. It was like God saying to Him, “Abraham You have given Isaac to Me, but take Him back not as your own but as My own”. That’s was the day Abraham became free from Holding Isaac as His own possession. Let us therefore make a list of all the things that is valuable to us and say, “Lord, You can have them all”. Go through that list one by one and hand it over to God. Say to the Lord, “You may allow me to use the them, but they are not mine but yours. You can use it for anything You want. You can use it to bless any of your children”. Many people never became Disciples because they were not willing to fulfill these conditions.
Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.: The important thing with salt is not the quantity but the quality. In a large plate of rice, we need very little salt to change the taste of the rice. But if the Salt has lost its Flavor, even two bowls of Salt will not make any difference to the taste. It is quality that matters not quantity. This is the lesson we are to learn from this illustration. God never intended that the church should be large in number. He said we are the Salt of the Earth, how much salt do you need to change the taste of a food? It is not size that is important but the strength. By the quality of Life you shall know them not by their size. This teaches that it is when we fulfill the conditions of Discipleship that we become salt that has not lost its taste. It is when we are made into Disciples that we become the kind of Salt which God intends us to be.
Dear Friend, And so we see that true discipleship involves a radical change of attitude towards: (a) our relatives and loved ones; (b) our self-life; and (c) our possessions. Unless we face these issues squarely and honestly, it will be impossible to fulfil the whole purpose of God for our lives. Unless preachers proclaim this message of discipleship, without “watering it down”, it will be impossible for them to build the Body of Christ. Take a Step into Discipleship for this is the Only way to become strong and Rich in Christ Jesus. May the Lord give us the Grace to remain Learners and Followers of Jesus till we are called up to meet the Lord. (Amen). God bless you. Have a blessed day.
#Everyday with Jesus