A Lesson in Discipleship (Luke 14:25-33)
In The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Cheap grace is grace without discipleship… Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again… It is costly because it cost a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”
Today's Scripture passage in Luke 14 is about the true cost of discipleship. In this passage Jesus moves toward Jerusalem with His disciples. Many people trail after them. Just on the sidelines wanting to be a part of the excitement without making any personal sacrifice, is Bonhoeffer’s “cheap grace” crowd. Jesus addresses their motives for being there. Three times between verses 25-33, Jesus reveals who cannot be His disciple: those who love their family and their own desires more than Him; those who do not carry their cross and follow Him, and those who do not give up everything.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a disciple as “one who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another”. In these verses Jesus defines a disciple as one who must believe that loyalty and love to His calling is greater than any other attachment or even his deepest relationship. The phrase “carry your cross” requires a commitment to sacrificially follow Him, believe the truth of the gospel, and make a daily decision to deny self. When Jesus says “give up everything”, it doesn’t mean literally reject everything in my life. But it does mean that I should determine, as do the examples of the builder and king in Luke 14, exactly how much is needed to complete His work, and be completely willing to pay the price.
A disciple is a pupil who has counted the cost and placed himself completely under the guidance of the Master‒whose love for Him is greater than for anyone or anything else, and who resolves to give and also give up whatever is necessary. Jesus’ question to count the cost is not addressed to His disciples. Each disciple has already counted the cost, and made a decision to daily surrender. His question is directed to those who offer quickly to serve, and then fade away like a shooting star. It is to this marginal person Jesus says, “If you can’t do what it takes, you can’t be my disciple.”
Many believers make the claim to be His disciple and never even realize that they are part of the “cheap grace” crowd”. Each Christian has a cross made just exactly for the amount of maturity he possesses. His cross has to be more than he can bear, or he will not be spiritually stretched. I must be willing to honestly evaluate myself. Am I one who needs to count the cost? Am I on the sidelines or a disciple? Do I love other things more than Him? Have I sacrificially committed to follow Him?
Lord, help me to be spiritually stretched until I become all you see in me, and all that I haven’t realized myself. You know my potential, and you know my calling. I don’t want to be a part of those who just watch on the sidelines. I want to be a disciple that has counted the cost, and is willing to pay the price. Whatever that cost, I am yours.