“Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
Jesus describes being a disciple in two of the most unappealing and unattractive ways. Both are difficult, and both require sacrifice. First, he describes being a disciple as bearing a cross. He said, “Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27). It was a terrible burden with which many people were too familiar. Even today cross-bearing is not pleasant.
The second way Jesus describes being a disciple is being ready to sacrifice everything. Some people feel this is even more difficult than bearing a cross. A cross may come occasionally. Sacrificing everything requires complete and undivided commitment. Most people look at this requirement and conclude, it is too much to ask.
How should I consider this requirement? There is a part of me which says, “absolutely.” There is another part which says, “not hardly.”
As long as I live in this world, I am always going to struggle with being a faithful disciple of Jesus. The devil will assail me with his deceptions. The world will allure me with its distractions. In the end, my sinful nature has neither the power nor the will to combat either. If anything, my nature will look for the first place to compromise. However, Jesus’ words remove any possibility of this: “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
So, what does Jesus want? Before I a jump to a hasty and potentially regrettable conclusion, I need to consider what it means to give up everything.
Jesus expects one thing, and that is faithfulness. It calls for commitment. I cannot say I follow Jesus one minute, then the next, indulge myself and my sinful nature. It also calls for the right attitude. That attitude is one which compares everything in this life to what I receive and have with Jesus. What finally can compare with the forgiveness of sins, the assurance of peace with God, the confidence of joy in heaven, and the comfort of his never-failing promises and presence? There is nothing! This is why I rejoice in being called a disciple of Jesus, and why I can rejoice in giving everything up to remain his.
(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 355)
Take the world, but give me Jesus! All its joys are but a name.
But his love abides forever, through eternal years the same.
Oh, the height and depth of mercy; Oh, the length and breadth of love!
Oh, the fullness of redemption, pledge of endless life above!