I taught for my youth ministry’s Bible study group last Saturday. I taught two sessions, one on following Jesus, and another on (believer’s) baptism. Below is my lecture for the first session (but I didn’t include my lecture on writing testimonies).
Salvation is free but discipleship will cost you everything. But what does it mean to follow Christ? Let’s read Luke 14:25-33:
25Now 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. 27Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him 30saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31Or 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? 32And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
Here are some observations from the text:
1. Christ must be above our relatives (v.26). This does not mean that we now have a warrant to hate our families. The word hate (miseo) is a Hebrew idiomatic expression showing preference. Romans 9:13 says:
As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated [miseo].
This does not mean that God hated Esau; it only means that He preferred Jacob over Esau.
It can also be a Semitic expression for loving someone less. The best way to explain this idea is through Matthew 10:37:
37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Emphases added)
The point is this: We must prefer Jesus more than anyone else, including our parents and siblings. We must love Him more than others.
In his book Hard to Believe, John MacArthur writes:
Some wives will not come to Christ for fear of separation from their husbands. Some husbands will not come to Christ for fear of separation from their wives. Children may not come to Christ for fear of their fathers or mothers, and vice versa. People will not take a stand for Christ, because they want to maintain that family harmony. But Jesus said the true disciple will turn from his family, if he is forced to make a choice. This is part of self-denial, accepting gladly the high cost of following Jesus to receive His infinite blessings for time and eternity.1 (Emphasis added)
2. Christ must be above ourselves (vv.26a-27). Following Jesus means denying ourselves and taking up our crosses daily (Luke 9:23). Dietrich Bonhoeffer profoundly writes in his book The Cost of Discipleship:
When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.2
In other words, when Christs summon us to follow Him, we die to ourselves that we may live for Him.
3. Christ must be above everything (v.33). Following Jesus means that we must renounce all that we have. John MacArthur again writes:
Following Jesus is not about you and me…it is about seeing Christ as the priceless Savior from sin and death and hell, so that we willingly give up as much as it takes, even if it costs us our families, our marriages, and whatever else we cherish and possess.3 (Emphasis added)
In all these, we must say that Christ must be number one in our lives.
1John MacArthur, Hard to Believe (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 131-132.
2Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (London: SCM Press, 1964), 79.
3John MacArthur, Hard to Believe, 10-11.