Well, we turn to the Word of God now, Luke 14, Luke 14. We come to the last section in this great 14th chapter. And we've been moving through it rather rapidly and this last section is for some of us who have been in our study of Luke for a long time, really a summary kind of section. You'll find elements of things that we've learned in the past and we'll treat it as such this morning. Luke, chapter 14, verses 25 through 35. Luke 14, starting in verse 25. Let me read it for you so you have it in mind.
"Now, great multitudes were going along with Him and He turned and said to them, '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. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you when he wants to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him saying this man began to build and was not able to finish. Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with 10,000 men to encounter the one coming against him with 20,000? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks terms of peace. So, therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. Therefore, salt is good, but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless, either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'"
Now, the key to this passage is to notice three times the simple designation "My disciple." You see it in verse 26, you see it in verse 27 and you see it again in verse 33. "You cannot be My disciple," "you cannot be My disciple" and then "can be My disciple." This is about being a disciple of Jesus, not a peripheral disciple, but being one who truly belongs to Him. That is the intent of the personal pronoun "My." This is not about a disciple or a would-be disciple or a potential disciple; this is about one who is "My disciple," that is one who truly belongs to Me. That is what Jesus is calling for in this text. Verse 26, "If anyone comes to Me...," coming in the sense of coming to be a true disciple of Jesus. At the end of verse 27 He says, "Come after Me."
So the idea here is to become a disciple of Jesus by coming to Him initially and following Him, which is to say coming after Him; that is, sustaining that initial coming. This is an evangelistic text. This is Jesus calling people to come to Him and to follow after Him, thereby becoming His own disciples. That's the thrust. It is an invitation for people to come to salvation.
Frankly, it's pretty easy to see that. There is no other way to interpret the text, particularly when you notice that the audience being addressed is a great multitude. He is saying this to the masses who are following Him and hearing Him and seeing His miracles and being attracted to Him and in process of deciding what to do with Him. This is an invitation to become true disciples who are in every sense His own.
We know from the past studies of the gospels that the word “disciple” can have a broad meaning. In fact, typically, rabbis in general had disciples. The word is mathētēs. It means a learner or a student. And typically, rabbis in Jewish culture moved around with a little bevy of following learners or students or disciples. In fact, I think the reason Jesus was called rabbi...and it was not because He had an official designation. He couldn't have qualified for the designation officially because He was rejected by the religious establishment. But I think Jesus drew the term “rabbi” because He functioned the way rabbis function and that is, He had this group of followers. In fact, He had a larger following than any rabbi ever had or anybody else ever had in Jewish culture. And so it was pretty obvious that He functioned as a rabbi and probably was called one because of that. But this was very familiar stuff to them, a teacher moving about with people following Him. And in the beginning as you study the unfolding of Jesus' ministry, these disciples are all over the map in terms of their commitment. Some are nominally committed, some are truly committed, some are barely committed at all and some are not even committed; they're just there out of curiosity. And as Jesus, through His ministry, raises the bar, raises the standard, makes the demands more absolute, more exclusive and more extreme, the superficial disciples begin to drop off. And so now, He's talking not just to disciples...or not about disciples...but He's talking about My disciples. And as He comes to the end of His ministry, he becomes more definitive as to what it really means to belong to Him. The word “disciple,” now, is taking on a truer, purer meaning so that when you get into the book of Acts, also written by Luke, every time you see the word “disciple” in the book of Acts it is a synonym for a Christian. So that you find in the book of Acts it says that the disciples were called Christians. That occurred, you remember, for the first time in Antioch. So, this word disciple is going through some kind of a metamorphosis. Or better yet, it's going through some kind of an elevation so that it becomes the staple word to define a true believer in Jesus Christ who can be called a Christian. In Acts, chapter 6, you remember, it describes the believers as the disciples. The disciples were needing some leadership, they were needing some help from the leaders because some of the widows were not getting their fair share of what should have been available in the distribution of food. As you move through the book of Acts, in chapter 11, chapter 14, chapter 15, verse 10, you find disciples and Christians becoming synonymous. That's what this is about. This is a call to true discipleship. This is a call to really following Christ, not just initially coming to, but coming after in the sense of sustaining that initial commitment, being a true follower of Jesus Christ. This, then, is an evangelistic message. He had had many who were superficial followers and disciples who didn't stay around very long. They were like the...the stony ground. They had a little bit of apparent life and under persecution and tribulation they disappeared. Or they were like those who couldn't let go of the world and the deceitfulness of riches, the cares of this age, and they sprouted for a little while without bearing any fruit and also disappeared. They were like those in John 6:66 to whom Jesus raised the bar so high that it says many of His disciples walked no more with Him. But by now we're toward the end of Jesus' ministry. By now, of course, we're months away from the cross and it's become pretty apparent what the national attitude toward Jesus is and it's complete rejection. That's why chapter 13 ends with Jesus Himself saying, verse 35, to Israel, “Your house is left to you.” I'm through with you. It's over. This is a kind of judgment on them that speaks of their desolation and future punishment. The die is cast in terms of the nation and the leaders have already affirmed where they stand. They have accused Jesus of being demonic. And so Jesus, here, is seen giving an invitation to become a true disciple. It's still invitation time even though desolation has been pronounced upon the people of Israel. Even though the leaders have fixed their attitude toward Jesus in unbelief and resentment and hatred that will eventually come together with the attitude of the people to bring about His execution, Jesus is still giving the invitation. He is still offering salvation. It is still the day of grace.
And so, really, this section here is about how one becomes a true disciple, how one comes to Christ, follows after Christ and is known as one of His own disciples. In a sense: It's how one is to be saved. And it's put at a strategic point because if anything has been learned in the prior section of this 14th chapter, it is that the religious leaders of Israel don't know how. They think they're going to be in the kingdom. They think they're going to be the blessed sitting at the banquet of God in heaven some day, but they are wrong. They are too proud. They are too confident in their law-keeping and their tradition and their ceremony and ritual observance. They're so proud about their religious achievements and their moral achievements that they cannot humble themselves and so they will be shut out of the kingdom. In fact, in verse 24 Jesus' final words at the lunch with the Pharisees and the lawyers is: "I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of My dinner." And the men who were invited: basically Israel and the leaders of Israel. They were pre-invited by the Old Testament to come to the banquet of God, to come to the kingdom, to come to salvation, but when the Messiah came and said everything's ready, come now, they refused. And so they miss it. They are never going to be invited again and never will taste of the great dinner of salvation, the great, glorious banquet celebration of heaven. The people don't know how to be saved because the leaders don't know how to be saved and so it's the blind leading the blind. And that raises the question, of course, in Luke's mind, and he carefully answers it by placing in here the right teaching about how one becomes saved. How does one enter the kingdom of God? How does one come to forgiveness? How does one come to heaven? How does one become a disciple of Jesus Christ? We can't turn to the leaders of Israel for that information, but we can turn to the true leader of Israel, the Messiah, the Lord, Jesus Christ, who will teach us. So whether it is come to Me, come after Me, be My disciple, it all refers to an invitation to salvation. Jesus invited people to salvation. In chapter 18, verse 24 He talked about entering God's kingdom. In chapter 18, verse 18 He talked about having eternal life. In chapter 14 we saw back in verse 15 there was a reference to eating bread in the kingdom of God. In chapter 12 there was a reference to acknowledging Christ and, therefore, being acknowledged by God before the holy angels. All of these refer to the same thing. They're just ways to speak of salvation. All refer to the gift of eternal life, the gift of forgiveness and righteousness that comes to one who puts his trust in Christ. And so here is another one. He could say: This is how you enter the kingdom. He could say: This is how you come to the banquet of God, this is how you come to heaven, this is how you receive eternal life. He could say any and all of those things. But in the marvelous and rich blend of Scriptures, it is here, if you come to Me, come after Me, be My disciple. That all invites us to salvation. Jesus was an evangelist. And there are some people who are very confused about this and they have left a huge trail of confusion through evangelical Christianity. The idea that somehow there is a possibility of being saved without ever really following Christ. There is the possibility of acknowledging Jesus as Savior, without acknowledging Him as Lord. There is the possibility of praying a prayer and being given a gift of salvation with absolutely no commitment, even without repentance. This views Jesus as something other than evangelist. The people who believe that say, here He is inviting people who already believe in Him as Savior to move up to a higher level, to stop being carnal Christians, to borrow Paul's language, and becoming spiritual Christians, to come to the higher level. But that turns Jesus into some kind of deeper life teacher rather than an evangelist. And He came to seek and to save that which was lost and His message was a message of salvation. Becoming a disciple of Christ is not an invitation to add something to your life. It's not an invitation to embellish your life by finally becoming obedient. It's not some kind of an enrichment of your otherwise rather insipid and carnal Christian life. We're not asking for some emotional makeover when we call people to become disciples of Christ. We're not saying you need to move up a little higher on the ladder of spiritual life. This is a call to salvation. This is a rescue from hell to heaven. There is no intermediary, sort of soft one step that gets you in the kingdom and you hang around until you finally move up. And what Jesus asks for here is so amazingly extreme. I mean, the language in what we just read is very extreme: hating your family, carrying your cross, hating your own life, giving up all your own possessions. I mean, this is very extreme stuff. And Jesus is not calling for some addition or some embellishment or some enrichment or some emotional change or just offering fire insurance. To borrow the, sort of, contemporary language, Jesus is not calling for a makeover; He's calling for a takeover. He is calling to become sovereign Lord, divine dictator, ruler, controller and king of your life. Never did Jesus call for a short, easy prayer to receive eternal life. Never did He call on people to make an emotional decision induced by some pleadings by someone or some music or some environment. Never did Jesus offer an easy forgiveness and an easy way to heaven. The door was always narrow, hard to find, and there were always distractions to lead people away. And there are those people in chapter 13 who try to get in and they can't. They can't. In fact, if you look at the evangelism of Jesus it's amazingly contrary to what we are used to. The Lord did everything He could, said everything He could to stop would-be, shallow, superficial followers, to literally stop them dead in their tracks. He put up barrier after barrier after barrier. He kept articulating these extreme standards for coming to Him to receive salvation. And this is just completely contrary to what we are used to in our environment and getting even more used to because it's more and more common. Evangelists today and pastors and people in church ministry seek mass responses. I mean, the idea is to reach as many people as you possibly can and so you've got to figure out what is the attraction for the masses and then you've got to decide what are the barriers that prevent people from confessing Christ, praying a prayer, seeking salvation. And you get all those barriers clarified and eliminate them all. You want to make this decision as easy as possible for the most people possible. So you remove anything you think would stand in the way, anything that would prevent people from praying this prayer or acknowledging this simple faith and responding to the message. Jesus did absolutely the opposite of that. He did everything He could to put up barriers constantly by making statements that were absolute and exclusive and extreme. He sought no superficial followers whatsoever. I mean, He understood that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. He understood that the enemy was going to sow the tares among the wheat and He didn't want to do anything to contribute to that. He did everything He could to keep the tares out, to sift the chaff from the wheat. Never would He give anyone an easy way to secure a false sense of salvation. If only we would go back to understanding how Jesus did evangelism, extreme demands that were not ambiguous, that were crystal clear, and would deter the superficial and would thwart the fickle.
Now, I want you to remember something as we read through that. Not everything necessary to salvation is in this passage. It doesn't tell us anything about who Christ is in this passage. It doesn't say anything about who God is here. It doesn't talk about salvation being by faith. It doesn't speak about repentance. It doesn't talk about putting trust in Jesus Christ. It doesn't...doesn’t say anything about that. But that doesn't do anything but remind us that no one passage necessarily has every component of the gospel. This emphasizes, not the objective facts of the gospel, but the subjective attitude that must exist in the heart of the one who comes to those objective facts in a true and saving faith. Jesus obviously talked about sin and about righteousness and about God and about judgment and about Himself being the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Savior, and putting trust in Him. He talked about His coming death. He talked about His coming resurrection. He talked about all of those things, but He also talked very, very often, and so it is recorded in the gospels, about the attitude of the person who comes. There are people who can know the facts and even affirm the truthfulness of those facts but never enter the kingdom because they are stopped by the required attitude. And when it comes to the attitude that God is looking for in the heart, it is...it is an attitude of extreme commitment, nothing superficial about it at all. So when you have told the story of the gospel and you've talked about Christ and who He is and why He came and His sinless life and His death and His resurrection — and that is the gospel, clearly, that is the gospel as to its content and the truth that must be believed — you then must talk about what is the true attitude of the one who can trust Christ in a saving way. There is a kind of faith that does not save. And Jesus talked so much about this. It isn't that we can alter the gospel. Most people who talk about the gospel, most who evangelize and evangelize about the gospel understand that Jesus was virgin-born, He was God in flesh, He lived a sinless life, died a substitutionary death, rose again, ascended to heaven, intercedes, will return. We get the facts right. We have to believe in that to be saved. The real issue is what is the nature of that believing? What is the substance of that attitude? And that is where much of the New Testament spends its time, and much of the teaching of Jesus.
And just to show you that what you read is not in any sense unusual — and this is familiar turf, I'm sure, for all of you — let me tell you some of the other things that Jesus said. Matthew 10:34, "Do not think that I am come to bring peace on the earth. I didn't come to bring peace, but a sword." Here's where the sword will come down. "I came to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law and a man's enemies will be the members of his household." It's exactly what we just read in Luke 14. Then He goes on to say, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. He who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it. He who has lost his life for My sake will find it." In chapter 13 of Matthew in two little parables, verses 44 to 46, concise, unforgettable parables. First one, "The kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field which a man found and hid and from joy over it, goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant, seeking fine pearls. Upon finding one pearl of great price went and sold all that he had and bought it." Simple principle. In both cases a man found something so valuable that he gave up everything for it. That's the point. Jesus is saying it'll cost you everything. That is the extremity of true discipleship. Extreme discipleship is what we're talking about here. You give up everything, including father, mother, sister, brother, as we read in Matthew, chapter 10. This is unmistakably an emphasis in the language of Jesus in the 10th chapter of Mark as well where our Lord says, essentially, very similar things. "No one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms for My sake and the gospel's but he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecution, and in the age to come, eternal life." Again, Jesus says you're going to have to give up everything here, all your possessions and all your relationships. You're going to get them back in the church, in the redeemed church, in the fellowship you enjoy here and even more importantly, in the eternal life to come. This kind of attitude finds itself expressed in John's gospel also in chapter 12 and verse 25. "He who loves his life loses it. He who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal." And then, of course, we remember, don't we, Luke, chapter 9. We have gone back to that text so many times. "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me." Verse 23, "Whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it. Whoever loses his life for My sake is the one who will save it. What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?"
All this says the same thing. You give up everything in terms of relationships and possessions. You sell all. This is why people fall short. This is why it's a narrow door. This is narrow-door evangelism. This is why it's a narrow door. You give up everything. A lot of people don't get it. They're the people in Matthew 7. Lord, Lord, we did this; we did that in Your Name. "Depart from Me. I never knew you." I don't know who you are. We have no relationship. You'll find that even in the 13th chapter of Luke. You certainly do remember verses 24 and following. "Strive to enter by the narrow door. I tell you many will seek to enter and not be able. And once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door" then you're going to be on the outside. And what are the people on the outside going to say? "Lord, open to us." And He will answer and say to you, “I don't know where you're from.” And they'll say, “Well, we ate and drank in Your presence. You taught in our streets.” And He'll say, "I tell you, I don't know where you are from. Depart from Me, all you evildoers." And then comes weeping and gnashing of teeth.
This is the consistent message, the consistent message. And Jesus, in John 6, when the people departed — it says many of His disciples left — said to the ones that stayed, “Do you want to leave also?” And Peter summed it up and he said, "To whom shall we go? You and you alone have the words of eternal life." We're here and we'll give up everything because we want eternal life at any price. This is the message that Jesus preached. It is not a call to a superficial kind of response. It is sell all, hate everyone around you, hate your own life, abandon all your own possessions. The treasure is that valuable, the pearl is that valuable. Sell everything. This is that beatitude attitude. You really have nothing to hold onto anyway. Paul says everything I had I considered manure. Look at yourself and realize your spiritual bankruptcy, your spiritual poverty. That's the beatitude attitude. That's what made the Jews react so violently to Jesus. They didn't want to give up their manure. They wanted to hang onto their Pharisaism and their Judaism. They wanted to hang onto their ancestry to Abraham and their ceremonies and traditions and law keeping and they wanted to earn their way in. As we learned at lunch in chapter 14 in the prior passages, Jesus spoke to them about humbling themselves and considering themselves as outcasts and that was to be the only way they'd ever get into God's kingdom. They were not willing to do that.
God will have a glorious banquet in Heaven. Some believers are enjoying it even now as you know, the saints triumphant. There is an eternal life; bliss in the glories of the heaven that God has created for those who belong to Him. But His holy presence in the glories of heaven await those who give up everything, who hold to nothing, who come so desperate and so desirous of salvation that the price is immaterial to them. Salvation is free, but only to the empty hand does it come. It is a gift, but can only be received by empty hands.
Now, we come back to our text. And in this setting, Jesus is going to say more about this whole idea of self-denial. It's the same message as back in chapter 9, verse 23. Coming to Christ is a radical thing. It is not a superficial makeover; it is a total takeover. It is not just a status change before God; it is a real transformation as we're going to talk about a little bit in our message tonight.
I want you to see three things in this text, one, this morning and two, next time, three great truths. One, being Christ's disciple demands abandonment of past priorities. It demands abandonment of past priorities. It also demands, secondly, assessment of present powers. And, thirdly, it demands allegiance to future potential. You take a completely different worldview, past, present and future. And it all begins with an abandonment of past priorities. Listen, the gospel says everything in your life is about to change. Your priority has been yourself and your next priority has been your family. Let's assume relationships. And the next priority has been your possessions. And you have to abandon all of that, hate your family, hate yourself, verses 26 and 27, and verse 33, give up all your possessions. I mean, if you look at life for the unregenerate person, that's about it. It's me, my people and my stuff. Right? It's life, very comprehensive. And Jesus says, if you want to be My disciple, you abandon it all.
Let's look at the text. "Now, great multitudes were going along with Him and He turned and said to them." Great multitudes, massive crowds in the tens of thousands if not twenties of thousands as we saw in chapter 12, huge, huge crowds. And Jesus is on His journey and He is moving inexorably, really, toward Jerusalem. Not in a direct line, rather indirect. Took a little foray in His Judean ministry up into Galilee and a little time over the Jordan River into Perea to the east, but He's headed toward the final stop in Jericho and then on into Jerusalem for the last time to die. As always, He's got a huge crowd. Some suggest this incident could have happened in Perea...can't be sure about that...which is east of the Jordan. But whenever it was, on this particular occasion, as surely on many other occasions, He said these words: "He turned and said to them," addressing the whole crowd. Now, keep in mind, this isn't the only teaching Jesus did. These crowds would have heard Him day in and day out and probably for a good portion of the day. So you have a very small snippet of what Jesus said.
If you go back to chapter 12 for just a second I'll give you kind of a bigger picture. In chapter 12 you have sort of a collective message from Jesus. It's a great discourse interrupted by a couple of questions asked, but it really flows from chapter 12, verse 1 to 13:9. That whole thing, if you have a red-letter Bible you will see, is Jesus speaking with a few questions and comments. And if you wanted to see a sort of composite, evangelistic sermon of Jesus, here's one. And He starts out in verse 1 by saying, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." Here's what Jesus says there. Get out of false religion. Get as far away from it as you can. It is leaven. Leaven is influence. Leaven permeates. Leaven corrupts. First thing He says: Get away from phony religion, very blunt, very straightforward. Second thing He says, better realize "there is nothing covered up that won't be revealed and hidden that won't be known...what you've said in the dark will be heard in the light, what you've whispered in the inner rooms shall be proclaimed upon the housetops." Know this: God knows what's inside of you. He knows every thought and every word and every action. Understand you're under divine scrutiny. Then He says in verse 4, "Don't be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more they can do. I warn you, fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast you into hell. Fear Him." One: Run from false religion. Two: Understand your life is an open book to God and that leads to the fact that you better fear God because God is holy and God will judge your sin. And nothing escapes God. He knows all the birds that hop and He knows how many hairs are on someone's head. In verse 8 He says you have to confess Me before men to be confessed before the angels of God. If you deny Me before men, you'll be denied before God. So what's He saying? Run from false religion, understand your sin is exposed to God, have a fear of the judgment of God, confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He goes on into verses 10-12 and says listen to the Spirit of God. Don't ever blaspheme the Spirit of God. What the Spirit does and says, you must respond to. Down in verse 13 He says...A question is asked about an inheritance and He launches into a whole section that says abandon materialism. Don't be like a man who built bigger barns and bigger barns and lost his soul. And down in verse 22 to 34 He says seek the kingdom, forget everything else. Verse 31, seek for His kingdom. “These things shall be added to you." This is sort of a sampler of all of His teaching. Run from false religion, understand your sin is exposed to God, fear the judgment of God, confess Christ, believe the Spirit, abandon materialism, seek the kingdom of God. In verse 40 He says, "Be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you don't expect." Recognize that the Second Coming could come at any time. That runs down all the way to verse 48. In verse 49 He talks about self-denial again and denying your relationships. Verse 53, father against son, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and so forth and so on. Christ brings this sword. Understand there's going to be a price to pay, division in the family. This is self-denial. Verses 54-59 tells the story about a man who needed to go to the judge and settle accounts before he ended up being sentenced. And He says settle your accounts with God before it's too late. In chapter 13 He says you're going to die and you don't know when. And in verse 6-9 He says you're living on borrowed time. All of those would be components of Jesus' routine evangelistic preaching. Get out of the phony religion, understand your life is an open book to a holy God and you, therefore, are under His judgment. Fear Him, confess Christ, believe the Spirit, abandon materialism, seek the kingdom, expect Christ to come in judgment, deny yourself, settle with God before it's too late, realize death is near and you can't control it and you're living on borrowed time. All of these are components of Jesus' evangelism.
And so we come now to chapter 14 back to our text. This is only part of that big picture of what Jesus taught regularly and routinely. And the first thing He has to say to them is this: Look, if you're going to enter My kingdom, if you're going to be saved, you must abandon your personal past priorities. Verse 26: "If anyone comes to Me and doesn’t hate his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yea, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." In verse 33, "So, therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who doesn’t give up all his own possessions." It's going to cost you your family, yourself and all you have; you, your people and your stuff. Notice, anyone...universally true...comes to Me. This is an initial act of faith. This is the commencement of true saving faith. You must understand, we're talking about extreme discipleship here. And the point is made strongly by using the negative. If anyone, anyone, comes to Me and does not hate his family, his own life and give up his possessions, he can't be My disciple. "His own" adds a little bit of a sort of sympathy to it. "His own" stresses the natural priority and moral affection...natural affection I should say, that you have for your family. This is very strong. This is very extreme. You hear typical evangelism today, you know, you just come to Christ and, you know, it's not going to have any impact on any relationship, might make your family like you better, etc., etc., etc. And we don't live in the same kind of hostile environment they did then, but it's still unfair to tell people that this is somehow going to be a way to induce peace into your home when the fact of the matter is it might introduce a kind of turmoil the likes of which you've never experienced when you, as a believer, try to co-exist with non-believers. But we're told here it's necessary to hate. Immediately when you read that, you say, wait a minute. That seems contrary to what the Bible teaches because we're commanded to love everybody. Right? We're commanded to — for example, Exodus 20:12 — honor our parents. Certainly that implies loving them. We're told in Ephesians 5:25 to love our wives. And we're taught to love our children. I mean, to not have normal family love, according to the writing of the apostle Paul, is some kind of aberration, some kind of perversion that characterizes the worst in society. And doesn't the Bible tell us that we're to love our enemies. What are we talking about here? What does this mean? Does this mean all of a sudden we're to have some kind of emotional venom toward the people in our family? Is that what it's talking about? Is some kind of psychological resentment? Aren't we supposed to love people as part of our evangelistic effort? Aren't people supposed to be able to tell that we're the disciples of Christ...John 13...because we love? Yes to all of those things. So what are we talking about? We're talking about a Hebraism. We're talking about a unique way in which the Jewish people used the terms love and hate. It expresses preference. In Malachi 1 and 2...and it's repeated in Romans 9:13...God says, "Jacob have I loved, Esau have I" what? "Have I hated." It's not talking about the fact that God had some emotional loathing for Esau. It simply means that God gave His promise through Jacob and not through Esau. It is simply a way to define preference. It can also be a Semitic expression for loving someone less. For example, maybe the best illustration of this is in the 29th chapter of Genesis. You know, polygamy was always a sin and it was always unwise and it always brought grief and certainly you see that with Jacob and his two wives, Leah and Rachel. Verse 31 of Genesis 29, it says...In the NAS it says, "Now, the Lord saw that Leah was unloved" and the translators have taken a liberty there. The word is “hate” in the Hebrew. But they understand the interpretation because it's a preference here, not some kind of emotional animosity. It simply means Leah was unloved or hated and Rachel was loved. That is to say, he had two wives and he liked one better than the other one. Not too abstract. "Leah conceived, bore a son, named him Reuben, for she said, 'Because the Lord has seen my affliction, surely now my husband will love me.' She conceived again, bore a son, said, 'Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, He has therefore given me this son.'" This is to say, not that her husband despised her and hated her. Her husband had a relationship with her, even a physical relationship with her. He gave children to her. It is a way of expressing the fact that she was loved less and Rachel was loved more. And Deuteronomy 21, by the way, talks about that. If a man has two wives, he'll love one more and he'll love the other less. And didn't Jesus even talk about that? No man can serve two masters. Right? He'll love one and hate the other. It doesn't mean that he has a psychological hatred toward the one; it simply means that in effect, de facto, if you have two that you love and they come into conflict, somebody is going to be treated one way and somebody is going to be treated another way. It is a de facto hatred in the sense that if God says this is what I expect of you, this is what I want from you, and your family says we don't want that, we want this, you do what God says, you, therefore, have expressed love to God and you have treated your family as if you hated them because you have no regard for what they ask when it comes into conflict with what God demands. It is nothing more than that. It is not counter-commanding us to hate the people that Scripture commands us to love. And the best way, maybe, to clear that up is in Matthew 10:37, which I read earlier, which spins it on a positive note. "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." It's about loving more and loving less. That's essentially what that love-hate concept is conveying. This is a call, then, to unshared love with Christ, to love no one the way you love Him. And I'll tell you that's a claim to deity because in Matthew 10...in Luke 10, rather, we are instructed, verse 27, to love the Lord, our God, with all our heart and soul and strength and mind. And if you're to love God exclusively in that fashion, and Christ says you're to love Me exclusively in that fashion, then this is a claim to deity unquestioning. What He is saying is that when you come to Me and you want to be My disciple, you will love Me to the degree that it makes all other loves and all other loyalties subordinate. And whenever our family comes into conflict with the Lord, our love for the Lord dictates what we do. We cannot serve two masters. It is not that we hate them in actuality. It is that we hate them pragmatically in the sense that we don't respond and we treat them as if they had no place in our hearts. We have no choice. In the context of the first century, of course, this was pretty clear to them because when a Jewish person made a commitment to Jesus Christ, he would immediately alienate his family. It's still true in orthodox families today and also in Muslim families. Nothing is more severe than for a Moslem to become a Christian, a true believer in Jesus Christ. Alienation of the worst kind, if not execution, can occur in that situation. In our more benign Western culture we sometimes struggle to understand what this means, but it is still true that when you come to Christ, even though it may not be as you were in a Jewish Orthodox home or a Muslim home, it is still going to be true that your unconverted family is going to find that when they give you some direction and you get direction that you must follow from the Lord, they're going to be as if they have no role to play in your life. And that's how it has to be. Unless your family would feel sort of uniquely bad, you can remind them that in verse 26 it also says, not only do I hate my father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters but even my own life. It really doesn't matter anymore what you want. It doesn't matter anymore what I want. It doesn't matter what your desires, your ambitions, your goals, your objectives are for me. Frankly, it doesn't matter what mine have been. It's the end for you being the reigning authority in my life and frankly, it's the end for me being the reigning authority in my life. And, again, this is back to what Jesus has said numerous times. Deny yourself, deny yourself, deny yourself, hate yourself. And if you don't, you cannot be My disciple. And how far does this hate go? How extreme is this? Verse 27, "Whoever doesn't carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." Here is the sustained following even to the cross and the cross is simply a symbol of death, martyrdom. This is absolute stuff. He cannot be My disciple. He cannot be My disciple. And unless he gives up all his possessions, he cannot be...absolute. There's no wiggle room there. Your own desires, your own ambitions, your own objectives, your own goal, all warped, all reflective of your fallenness, are gone. And the degree of this selflessness is all the way to death. The word “carry,” bastazō, metaphorically means to bear a burden, to bear pain or to bear suffering. You're willing to put your life on the line, take whatever comes, even if it's death. Because why? This is so valuable. The pearl is so precious, the treasure is so rich that you will sell all and you will gladly give up even your temporal life if the Lord so desires to gain the eternal life. And anybody, by the way, who was crucified, would carry their cross to execution as someone who was being deemed as an outcast. Somebody who was bearing a cross would be somebody who really had no right to life. They were the lowest of the low. Only the scum could be crucified. And you're saying, look, I don't hold onto anything. This is Paul, again, saying everything's manure. I don't want any of it. Until you're ready to say my past priority of caring that I did what my family wanted, my past priority of doing what I wanted, is gone, you're not going to be able to be a disciple of Jesus, self-abandonment at the supreme level. Discipleship has the highest cost. Our Lord made it clear. He never held it back. It's one thing to tell people the gospel. It's one thing to give the facts, but when you call people to come to Christ, this is where you have to take them. Are you willing to set aside all your past priorities relationally? I remember when I used to discuss this lordship issue and this kind of commitment for salvation with other theologians in the time when I was writing the material on The Gospel According to Jesus, they would pose a question. One of the main guys posed this question to me. If you have a couple that you know and they're living in adultery, they're not married and they're living together and you're going to give them the gospel, do you say to them you must stop sinning and then come to Christ? Or do you say nothing about that, just come to Christ and worry about that later? Well, the answer to the question would be, what would Jesus say. What would Jesus say? Jesus would say this. You have a quote "love" going on here. Whether it's love or not, I don't know, but you have an affair going on, you have a relationship going on. How important is it for you to receive the forgiveness of sin and eternal life? Because if you're not willing to put a sword in that relationship or any other relationship and to deny the thing your heart craves, then you're not worthy to be My disciple. That really became the nexus of that whole debate. And then when you say that, they're accusing you of, well, you're asking people to do something on their own before they're saved and I'm saying, absolutely not, because the Bible says that only God can grant them the repentance to do that. But it, nonetheless, is not apart from their will. You have to say to the sinner, look, if you have to give up your family and all your own desires, that would be all those desires which could be contrary to God's will for you and the ones you know are contrary to God's will for you are absolutely at the top of the list. Don't come to Christ and say, you know, I want to be saved but I'm not giving up my homosexuality. I'm not giving up my adultery. I'm not giving up my fornication. I'm not giving up this. I'm not giving up that. It's the end of you. That's the bottom line. The Lord may not take everything. He won't take, necessarily, those things that are good and those things that are virtuous. He wants to take the things that are blatantly wicked and evil. But He just wants you to put it all down there. He may take it; He may not. He may take your possessions; He may not. But the point is it doesn't matter to you because you understand the value of what you're receiving and you are confessing Him as Lord. Anything less than that, Jesus said, you can't be My disciple. Now, that just takes care of you and your...and your relationships. Next week we're going to look at you and your stuff. And then we're going to get to the good part which is those two fascinating stories about building a tower and fighting a war. OK? Let's pray.
Our Father, we come to You again this morning with grateful hearts that Your Word is so clear. We understand that we cannot perfectly yield up everything. We understand that we still feel natural draws toward family and even sometimes Christian families that want to pull us away from what You want. And we understand that we battle with our own desires and our failures and our stumblings. We know you cover. If any man sin, we have an Advocate, Jesus Christ the Righteous, who intercedes for us. We know we don't perfectly abandon our past priorities. It's a battle. It's a struggle. The flesh longs to hold onto those things. But we affirm, in coming to You, the desire to do that and we seek the power to do that. That's our heart cry. Obedience to You is all we ask and we're willing to give up everything for the pearl and the treasure. And may it be true in our lives. May Your Spirit work that mighty work that causes us to let go of everything and see in Christ the supreme value. We pray in His name. Amen.