In verse 25, Jesus is no longer at the house of the Pharisee, and “great crowds” were with Him. Then he turned to them and said “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.” Now obviously, Jesus is not teaching hate for our loved ones, and we all know that He is saying that our love for Him must take priority over everything and everyone else. So why not just say it that way? It was simply the way that the sentiment was expressed among the Jews of those and earlier times. It was used, for example, with relation to Jacob’s feelings for Leah and Rachel (Genesis 29:30-31),
And then Jesus says “whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” We sometimes hear others speak of some difficulty they have in their lives and refer to it as “the cross I bear.” But consider the people who Jesus was talking to here. For them, crucifixion was not simply some bizarre and barbaric practice one reads about in a book of history. It was the normal method of execution used in that day, and the punishment did not come after years and years of appeals and waiting. It came swiftly, and often.
The language would have been plain to His disciples. He was telling them that truly being committed as a disciple of Christ could result in one’s death for that commitment. He gives them the example of someone who would begin building a tower. Such an undertaking would not be so easy as building house, for example. The time it took would be considerable, and the labor would be intensive. Most likely, one would have to enlist the help of many others in order to complete it. And the amount of materials required would be costly, possibly requiring a great deal of it to be transported from far away.
The second example he gave was of a king, preparing an army to do battle with another army. Careful consideration would have to be made about the probabilities of the outcome, the commitment required to prevail, etc. Both examples demonstrate the careful consideration that would have to be given before making such commitments – counting the costs beforehand. Many do not realize that this is the kind of commitment Jesus expects even today from those who would be His disciples.
It is not a decision to take so lightly that it becomes simply a Sunday morning ritual. Being a Christian must mean making a genuine and profound change in one’s entire life. The Lord expects no less than that. Why would we expect that years after first making that commitment it would be acceptable to Him for us to simply “go through the motions” once a week? It it takes much work and focus to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1).
(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.