In the previous article we looked at what it means to “walk by faith” from Luke 14:26. This passage frames the positive virtue of “walking by faith” in terms of three negative “my disciple” statements. You might think of them as the three great costs of discipleship.
The first cost, in verse 26, is that a disciple will choose to love Jesus more than his own family. Then, as now, a person prioritized their relationship with their family over any other earthly relationship. Jesus is saying, “if you want to be my disciple then you have to prioritize your love for me over your love for anybody else in this world.”
Loving Jesus More Than Yourself
Cost number two is at the end of verse 26 and fleshed out with a word picture in verse 27. Not only do we prioritize our allegiance to Jesus over any earthly relationship, we also prioritize our allegiance to Jesus over our allegiance to ourselves.
Jesus says my disciple will prioritize me over his family,”…yes, and even his own life.” (Luke 14:26)
What does that look like, practically speaking? It looks like sacrificial self-denial.
That’s the word picture of verse 27.
“Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27)
When the crowd heard the word cross they would have immediately envisioned a crucifixion. Jesus is telling this large crowd following him that if they were going to be true disciples then they must be ready to carry their own cross to their own deaths.
Discipleship necessarily entails a death to self.
By saying this, Jesus isn’t advocating some kind of sadistic form of suicide. Jesus is merely emphasizing the fact that the life of a disciple is marked by self-denial.
He makes this explicit with another passage in Luke’s Gospel.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
Not only does discipleship involve self-denial. It requires that one practice self-denial on a daily basis.
Many people choose to put their ultimate faith in human relationships instead of of the Lord. More often, though, the thing that kills faith in God more than anything else is faith in the self.
That’s why Proverbs 3:5 says,
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.”
Proverbs 3:7 says,
“Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil.”
Self-denial isn’t just rigid discipline with your diet and exercise. It’s being disciplined to keep your confidence in the Lord instead of yourself.
This requires some degree of striving. Discipleship is no passive endeavor. Being a disciple of Jesus means prioritizing your love for Jesus over any earthly relationship and prioritizing your love for Jesus over your love for yourself.
The third cost is in Luke 14:28-32. We will look at that cost next time.