“Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “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. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
The Lord extends His grace to us and offers us salvation. He invites us to repent of our sin, receive forgiveness, and follow Him. However, Jesus also tells us—with great clarity—that there are requirements for following Him. There is a cost to being a disciple.
The notion of requirements for following Jesus is bothersome to many Christians. It shouldn’t be. Jesus does not summon us to follow him in a few, selective areas; rather, Jesus calls us to follow Him in every dimension and every facet of life.
The call of Jesus is unequivocal, direct, and absolute: Follow me. The call of Jesus permits no compromise, no hesitation, no ambivalence. Everything we do should be guided and directed by the love and lordship of Christ.
The Luke passage continues, and Jesus has more to say about the requirements for following Him: “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? Otherwise, when he has laid a 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.’” (Luke 14.28-29)
In other words, be sure to count the cost before saying yes to discipleship with Jesus, because it’s costly. Don’t say yes naively and be surprised later when the cost is very high. Jesus requires, upfront, a commitment to the highest possible cost.
Jesus’ final statement in this passage makes it crystal clear: “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14.33)
You must be ready at any time to let go of everything for Jesus’s sake. There is no negotiating with Jesus. There is no calculating. There is no saying, “Well, if the cost reaches this, then I’m not interested in Jesus anymore.” Because Jesus says, “You can’t follow Me that way. I don’t want people who sign up for seventy percent of what I require.”
However, keep in mind there is no cost you can pay in following Jesus that won’t be made up to you a thousandfold in the resurrection (see Matthew 13.44). All the costs and losses — everything — are nothing compared to the gains of having Jesus, the greatest treasure.
“I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).
The Lord is calling.