Many Christians are self-certified and self-satisfied with their Christian life. This often despite a lifestyle that is obviously not in line with the word of God. Some excuse themselves by claiming that they are followers of Christ who are yet to become Christ’s thus creating artificial categories amongst the disciples of Christ.
However, there is only one group of Christ’s disciples in Scripture. Hence, those who claim to be followers while waiting to become disciples are drawing conclusions are erroneous and possible delusions from their own minds that have no bearing with the true word of God.
Thank God that we live in the time of grace. A time when we can encourage ourselves. And if anyone is beginning to fall asleep at his duty post rather than being awake to his responsibilities as a disciple of Christ, we can nudge him back to wakefulness.
Truly, there were multitudes who followed Christ about during His earthly ministry. But such ones were just faceless crowds who saw Him more as an entertainer. They were never considered nor confused with the disciples of Christ.
If going off course and into this error, it is required you retrace your steps and go back to your first love, that of being true disciple of Christ.
So today, I want each person who claim to know Christ to honestly answer this question in the deepest part of his heart:
“Are you a true disciple of Christ or just one of the multitudes?”
I say upfront that I desire and want to encourage you to “Be a true disciple of Christ and not just one within the faceless multitudes that followed Him.
As a form of help, I encourage you to read and reflect of Luke 14:25-35 as you attempt to answer that question. Please, this is not an attempt to bring you under condemnation. Rather, it is an attempt to remind you of what the Holy Scripture teaches: That those in Christ should appraise themselves regularly to ensure that they are still walking according to the light of the Lord.
Here is that passage of Scripture as in the King James Version of the Holy Bible:
“25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. 34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Luke 14:25-35).
While you do your own reading and reflection, consider the following:
The Lord was by now used to the crowds that followed him around. He had become so popular that He could hardly go anywhere unnoticed or unaccompanied. Many of these that followed Him were there just for the entertainment, free food or just to witness the miracles and not because of any desire to know the truth and get closer to God.
And now, another Passover was coming. Most of the people within these multitudes were Jews who had come from the Jewish diaspora. They were headed to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover as commanded them in the law of Moses.
Many of them had spent much money and time to be there. Hence, they were religious. They came because they apparently believed in the law of Moses and the God who gave that law through him. They had come to perform their religious obligations.
However, the Lord knew that many amongst them were not committed nor did they know the God of their fathers whom they had come to pay religious homage to as much as they claimed.
So He spoke to them as to what is required to be His disciple, and by implication, members of the kingdom of the God they claim to be worshipping. He did not want them to be in any doubt as to what God required of them. What the Lord spoke to them He spoke to all including the one who wrote this piece and you reading it.
The Lord spoke to the multitude
25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
A multitude is a large number of people gathered together in one place. They are often fickle-minded. People within the multitude are faceless. They are uncommitted to anything. No one could be held responsible or accountable for anything. They are excitable and are easily roused and since they often are on a short fuse can do much damage when they engage in mob action.
The multitudes that followed the Lord were there for the entertainment or whatever they thought could be of benefit to themselves and thus caress their need for instant gratifications.
At the sight of any trouble or problem, they will disappear or go away. When angry or in disagreement, they could become very vicious and destructive as they go into mob-action mode.
An instant that comes to mind is the multitudes that hailed the Lord and usher Him into Jerusalem as King turned against Him as they shouted, “crucify Him, crucify Him!” few days later.
The Lord recognised their core characteristics. He also recognised that committed ones could be drawn out of the multitude. He wanted such ones that would be willing to commit to following God to hear the truth. Hence, the Lord addressed them.
What the Lord demands of His would-be disciple
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
It is a very big if. It suggests that there is a choice, a decision to be made by people within the great multitudes following Him. It is conditional upon the person who makes such a decision to fulfil the condition. He wanted them to have the needed information so that they will make an informed decision.
And what He said applied to any man, that is, anybody, whoever so choses or desires. There is no exception. There are no special circumstances or situations that could be the grounds for exception. No special privileges for anybody man or woman. All are to fulfil the same conditions.
To come to me is another way of saying, believe in and commit to follow the Lord as a disciple.
The crowds already had come from their various locations to him and were following Him. But their following Him was superficial and temporary as they followed Him to just enjoy whatever they could get from Him. To many of them, He was just a teacher working miracles which they were enjoying as a form of entertainment.
Hence, “come to me” here means to come to the Lord with the intention of wanting to become His disciple. It applies to anyone who would venture to commit to following Him the Son of God, as Saviour and Lord.
Hate here is a very strong word, demonstrating the seriousness of what was at stake. It is a figure of speech referred to as hyperbole or exaggeration.
Father, mother, wife, children, brethren and sisters are all blood relations within the nuclear family. It speaks of the closest and most important relationships known to all his hearers, and indeed, all mankind in all cultures and traditions. These are relationships that are the products of the family as ordained by God. That any normal person would hold above all others and would do anything they can to keep and to nurture at great expense.
Christ is to be held up supremely above all else.
The effect of true commitment to Christ will have an effect upon the person’s (the disciple’s) other relationships as to seem like he hates those other relationships. It is not hatred in the sense of doing harm to these blood and close relations. For in numerous places, the believer is commanded to take good care of such relationships.
- The marriage relationship is to be life long and spousal responsibilities and obligations are to be fulfilled.
- Fathers and mothers are to be honoured and taken care of.
- Children are to be properly trained and cared for.
- Nowhere in Scripture is it said that becoming a disciple absolves a person from such obligations.
- Rather, neglect of such obligations could be a sign that such a one is really not a believer.
In addition, the would-be disciple is to “hate his own life also.” Self-love seems to be in-born and universal amongst all of mankind. Every normal person loves himself or herself more than anybody else. This self-love propels each person in all his endeavour in life. Hence, everyone wants the best for himself/herself. This ingrain self-love must be jettisoned by the would-be disciple of Christ. Failing to adhere to this demand of the Lord, the would-be disciple “cannot be my disciple” says the Lord.
Dealing with these important and sometimes crucial relationships is according to Christ, an all-or-none process that the would-be disciple must deal with not as one-off event, but as a continuous, on-going process all through his life as a disciple. Each of these relationships must be treated as prescribed by the word of God.
Verse 26 echoes a somewhat similar command of God to the people of Israel in the OT not to allow any close relations to entice them away from their God (Deut. 13:6-8).
This tells us that it is the same God with the same commands for His people all the time in all places and eras. As in the days of old, so also should be down the ages and down to us, the confession of the saints:
“Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.” (Ps 73:25).
Jewish understanding of discipleship
The Jews understood what it was to be a disciple in their religion and tradition. Jewish disciples followed their masters or rabbis. They frequently imitate them literarily.
Their goal was to one day become masters or rabbis themselves having their own disciples. In contrast, the disciples of Jesus Christ were and still are to remain His disciples, and to follow Him only. They were and still are expected to point or lead others to Christ.
The disciple of Christ must carry his cross and follow the Lord
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
The command is to an individual. For it is an individual and not a group decision. It is “whosoever” and not “whatever group.” Personal responsibility is what is called for. Each person will answer to his/her name.
Does not bear or carry his cross suggests that there are crosses to carry. Though some may which they don’t have to but each person is to carry his own cross.
But what is the cross?
The cross is not some disease, mental anguish or physical infirmity as some suppose. Nobody decides to become sick or acquires a disease of himself. But the cross has an element of choice in it.
The cross is what you suffer because you are a true disciple of Christ. Hence, the content of the cross includes a pathway of reproach, persecution, suffering, loneliness, tribulations, and even death if need be voluntarily for the sake of Christ, and of the word (Mat 13:21; Acts 14:22; 2Tim 3:12).
It is not just to carry his cross, but such a one must in addition, come after or follow Christ. To come after or follow Christ is to submit to Him and to obey Him. It is those who obey Him that love Him.
A person not willing to carry his cross and follow cannot be a disciple of Christ.
Refusal to carry the cross and follow the master tantamount to a rejection of the Lord. The carrying of the cross is not a one-off event, but a life-time commitment carried out every day of the disciple’s life. For the command of Christ is:
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23).
This level of commitment by a true disciple of Christ was alluded to by the apostle Paul. For the apostle Paul made reference to all the afflictions and troubles he had had, that still awaited him, when he said concerning himself:
“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24).
Discipleship is costly, can you pay what is required?
Three illustrations from everyday activities
- A would-be tower builder (Luke 14:28-30):
“28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.” (Luke 14:28-30).
A person wanting to build a tower would start with planning. He would sit down and count or estimate the cost of the project. He would then check his resources to see if he has enough to start and complete the tower project. This wise planning would prevent him from starting a project he may not have enough to complete.
Not starting a project for which he does not have enough to complete will prevent him from being the object of derision to be mocked for an otherwise uncompleted tower building project.
The Christian must assess himself and be willing to fully commit to Christ. It will not be acceptable to accept to become a disciple, be enthusiastic for a while, and then fizzle away. Even the people of the world will mock such a failure and hold such a one in contempt.
2. A king going to war (Luke 14:31-32):
“31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.” (Luke 14:31-32)
The king planning to go to war with another king would first appraise his arsenal of soldiers, weapons and other resources beforehand. If he discovers that he would not be able to win the impending war, he would quickly make arrangement for peace with his would-be adversary.
For example: The Gibeonites did this with the Israelites during the early stage of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites (Jos. 9:3-16).
The would-be disciple must be willing to and must forsake all
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
This links back to what has been said in the previous verses about the would-be tower builder and the king about to go to war (vv.28-32). Just as the tower builder, and the king going to war had to use all their resources, failing which each would not pursue his respective project, the would-be disciple would go through the same process of evaluation of ability and willingness to become a disciple.
The would-be disciple must determine if he will be willing to forsake all and follow the Lord wherever He may lead and whatever He may demand of him as His disciple.
The conclusion to be drawn for him to be a disciple is:
“I am willing to, and I will forsake all that I have to become a disciple of Christ.”
If the conclusion of the would-be disciple of Christ is short of this, then like the tower builder who would not start building a tower because he does not have enough to complete it, or the king who lack enough soldiers and other resources to prosecute a war, and therefore sort terms of peace from his opposing king, this person cannot be the disciple of Christ, and has to turn back from becoming a disciple of Christ.
Others before left all to become disciples of Christ
We could see the demonstration of “forsaking all to follow Christ” in the:
- Life of Abraham (Gen 12:1-5), who left all to follow God, and in
- The lives of the apostles:
- Simon, James and John (Luke 5:1-11, esp. v.11),
- the publican, Levi (Luke 5:27-28).
Some others could not forsake all and could not become disciples of Christ
There were also others who could not forsake all, and therefore could not become the disciples of Christ.
- The rich ruler (Luke 18:15-24, esp. vv.22-23),
- Ananias with Sapphira his wife (Acts 5:1-5).,
- Hymeneus and Alexander (1Tim 1:19-20),
- and Demas (2Tim 4:10).
Note that it is not that a person must be willing to, but that he must forsake all.
Many so-called Christians try to explain this passage away. But there is no explaining away what Christ Himself said was His demand of anyone who would want to be His disciple.
Christ knew what His disciple would face, and what the job would entail, so He wanted, and still wants people who will esteem Him above everything else in the world.
Same planning and diligence in the affairs of this world is called for in spiritual affairs too. It is common sense and normal practice amongst men to plan and ensure they have all the resources they would need before they start any meaningful and worthwhile project.
Why would any right-thinking person suppose that a matter of eternal consequences like becoming a disciple of Christ would require anything less?
3. Salt, a common item of food (Luke 14:34-35):
“34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Luke 14:34-35).
Salt is good because of its flavour which is inherent in it. That flavour accounts for its usefulness in the various ways and purposes for which it is put. If the salt should loose its all-important flavour, it cannot be re-flavoured.
And if it has no flavour, it becomes useless to everybody. It will not even be good for the land fill or the dunghill (rubbish dump). The useless flavourless salt will therefore be thrown away.
This paints the picture of the disciple who starts his Christians journey with enthusiasm and zeal. But along the line, he begins to lose his zeal and begins to renege on his vows and promises.
The reason for the disciple’s existence is to live true to his Lord. As he begins to lose focus, he begins to live a life that is miserable and therefore, pitiable. As in the case of the salt, men, not God threw out the useless salt.
In the case of the disciple who is not living true to the demands of Christ’s discipleship, God does not cast him it, for that would never happen to a true believer.
But this believer that has lost his flavour would have men trample underfoot his testimony, as men hold him in contempt and mock him as someone who started well but is unable to finish.
What testimony do people have concerning you and your faith of Christianity?
Finally, the Lord said, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear”
This is not talking of physical ears and physical hearing as important as those are. This is because all his listeners had physical ears, and they could hear his voice as He spoke, otherwise, the whole exercise would be pointless if they were all earless or physically deaf.
Rather, those who have ears and would hear are those who could understand the spiritual truth He was teaching, and to go ahead and obey them.
This was Christ informing His would-be followers of the standard required of His disciples.
The leaders of the world, and many Christian leaders today crave, cultivate and are excited by large crowds. They just love the crowds, especially when they are gullible and are easily exploited for the benefit of such leaders. This is contrary to Christ.
The Lord was not interested in the crowd just for having a large company of people around Him who were there just for the entertainment, who would not commit to any enduring thing, and would run away at the first sign of trouble or any problem.
But Christ was looking for committed people, who would prove reliable and endure to the end what the kingdom of God demanded.
So, He spoke to them in plain language, so that, such ones as were hoping to become His disciples, as we say in our day, “would make an informed decision.”
And contrary to what many think, being a disciple of Christ is costly to the disciple. Becoming a disciple of Christ is a life-long commitment to him. The apostle paul surveying his life in relationship to his life in Christ said,
“7But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” (Phil 3:7-8).
The disciple must prioritise Jesus Christ above ALL Else (family, his own life) bear his own cross, counting the cost, and live with purpose of being salt in the world, consistently all through his/her life.
There is no place or time for laxity. The Lord Himself made it clear when He said to all:
“No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
- Are you a true disciple of Christ or just one of the multitudes of people?
- Have you resolved to follow the Lord Jesus Christ anywhere He leads you?
- Have you counted the cost of being a disciple of Christ?
I encourage you today to commit to a life of discipleship under the Lordship of Christ.
When you do, you will receive the grace to be sustained in your journey of faith, service and ministry to the risen Lord.
To the unbeliever
But this has been about the believers in Christ. Those who have made peace with God through the propitiation of Jesus Christ. They are the one being exhorted to live true to their calling in Christ as they wait for His second coming.
But what if you are an unbeliever? What if Christ is not yet your Saviour and Lord? What if you are not yet born of the Spirit? Then the above does not yet apply to you. You are yet outside the fold of believers in Christ. And you cannot be expected to please the Lord and to do things that are only possible with the enablement of the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps you are saying you what to be part of the wonderful people of God who are the disciples of Christ. You want an end to the enmity between you and God.
And having read this piece you see the possibility but are wondering how you can change your situation.
You are asking, “How do I come into the fold of believers in Christ seeing I do not yet know Christ?”
Truly, there is a way out for God has made provision for you too.
By becoming a born-again child of God as demanded and provided for by God:
The invitation has gone out to all human beings including you reading this piece.
Accept God’s verdict concerning human beings:
“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
That is, in the opinion of God, we all fall short of His standard. Further, our sin has earned a deserved wage which is death or separation from God in hell.
But while we are still in our sin, God took the initiative to reconcile us with Himself as we are told:
“But God commendeth His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Yes, while we were all still in our sin, God showed His love for us by sending His only Son, Jesus Christ to die for us. God gave Jesus Christ to the whole world (John 3:16). So, all we need to do is to accept that Christ has died for our sin by standing in place of us.
We do this by doing what the word of God commands all would-be believers:
“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10). “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
Everyone who appropriates the sacrifice of Christ is acceptable to Him. And He Himself extended the invitation to all:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).
So, I encourage you to appropriate the finished work of Christ and confess Him as your Saviour and Lord NOW!
I prayer that God will accept you into His household through Christ in Jesus’ Name, Amen.