By Clay Hallmark
Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Lexington
A young man wrote a love letter to his girlfriend that said this: “My darling, I love you more than life itself. Words fail to describe my love for you. For you I would climb the highest mountain, swim the deepest seas, and cross a blazing desert just to be in your presence for just one minute. Sincerely, Your Beloved. … P.S.: I’ll pick you up Friday night at 6 p.m. unless, of course, it is raining.”
This is a lot like the way Luke describes the love people showed toward Jesus in Luke 14:25-35. When Jesus finished tell the parable of the great banquet at the house of one of the Pharisees, a large crowd had gathered to follow Him.
One thing that we learn about Jesus in Luke is that He was never impressed with a big crowd. What impresses Jesus is the personal devotion of an obedient disciple.
While Jesus wanted everyone to follow Him through repentance and salvation, He understood that not all would be willing to truly be His disciple.
While in salvation we come to the cross by faith, when it comes to discipleship, we are required to carry the cross by faith.
Notice a couple of important things we learn in this passage from Luke:
First, we see the condition of discipleship! A disciple is one who willingly attaches himself or herself to a teacher or leader in order to learn from them. This is a word used 264 times in the gospels and in Acts to describe followers of Jesus. To be a disciple of Jesus means that by faith we trust Him to forgive our sins and we make Him the Lord over our lives. When we do this, our desire should be to walk with Him day by day in a personal relationship of learning and obedience.
Second, we see the cost of discipleship! Jesus warns the crowd that they should not take discipleship lightly. In fact, Jesus will give three parables in this passage of scripture to show the serious nature of choosing to follow Him. To follow Jesus as a disciple there is a cost. There is a price that has to be paid.
The cost of discipleship is our love. Our love for Jesus should be characterized in two important ways. First, our love for Jesus must be supreme love. We must love Jesus above anyone else in our lives.
Our love for Jesus must come before our love, even for our own family members. Here we see Jesus’ use of hyperbole playing off the words “love” and “hate.”
Jesus says our love for Him should be so great that our love for others, even our own mother and father, would look like hate in comparison.
Second, our love for Jesus must be a strong love. Not only should our love for Jesus make all other “loves” in our lives look like hate, but we must be willing to bear the cross with Jesus. In other words, this is not a love of words only.
This is a love that takes up a cross. This is a love that identifies itself with Christ’s suffering, shame, and personal surrender to God the Father. This is a love that is willing to put God’s will above our own will, His agenda above our agenda, and His priorities above our own priorities. This is a love that willingly serves the Lord with no conditions.
Today, Jesus is not necessarily looking for a large quantity of disciples as much as He is looking for a large amount of quality among His disciples. Today, we must choose to forsake all else to follow Him.