We find one of the hardest teachings of Jesus in Luke, chapter fourteen, verses 26- 33. I’ve rarely heard messages preached from this passage, at least not without several caveats and attempts to water down what Jesus was saying. I think we are on dangerous ground any time we try to soften or redefine the words of Jesus. Jesus was the most intentional person who ever lived. He meant what He said every time. One way we know this is because when Jesus gave a hard teaching such as the one in John 6:53-58, we learn a few verses later that many turned away from following Him.
Jesus didn’t soften His message or try to say what He had said another way to win them back. No, He meant what He said, and He allowed the people to accept the teaching and follow Him or to walk away. He wanted everyone to trust in Him, but not at the cost of compromising His Word.
So, when we come to a passage like Luke 14:26-33, we have no choice but to accept it for what it says. In verses 26-27, Jesus made the bold statement that anyone who “… does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, and even his own life—he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” He finished the teaching in verse 33 by saying, “every one of you who does not say goodbye to all his possessions cannot be My disciple.”
I wonder, how many of us measure up to Jesus’s requirements for his disciples? Following Jesus is a phenomenal privilege that goes against everything our culture aspires to teach us. We want to build wealth, not give it away. Our friends and family are the most important people in our lives, and the last thing most want to do is leave them behind. And yet, this is what Jesus says it takes to be His disciple. We must give up everything for the sake of following Him. Only when we’ve surrendered everything to Him can we experience what it means to have all of Christ.
Is Jesus worth more to you than your family? Could you leave them behind to follow Him? How about your possessions? Is there anything you’d like to hold on to as you follow the Savior? There is no Jesus “and” anything. There is only Jesus. He will not share devotion. Few of us have sold or given away all we possess for the sake of Jesus. Even fewer have left our families behind. Would you be willing to do so?
Our love for Jesus must be all-consuming. If we are holding onto things of this world, we cannot be Jesus’s disciples. Those are His words, not mine. It’s black and white. The question before us now is, “Is Jesus worth that?” Is He worth leaving everything behind, just letting it all go? Can’t we just attend church, drop some money in the plate, and call it good? Not according to Jesus. Discipleship is synonymous with both surrender and obedience.
We can’t have some of Jesus and some of the world. It’s all or nothing, and every day we spend not surrendering everything to Him is another day rejecting His Lordship and who He is. That’s a dangerous place to live. It is far safer to recognize everything we have belongs to Him and give it away for His glory. This must be more than words. It must be a decision about how we live every day for the rest of our lives.