PALESTINE — Luke 14: 25 – 28 (NIV): 25 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?
We must look at this in context. Large crowds were following Jesus to hear him, be entertained by him, maybe to be healed by him. Jesus explained to them that there is more to being a Christian than looking on and being entertained. He used the shock value of saying they must hate their parents in order to be a disciple. We know that God does not want us to hate our parents or anyone else. This was a teaching device to catch the attention of his listeners. He means we cannot love anything in the world more than him; we cannot put anything in the world above him. He is looking for a total commitment.
And there is a cost involved in being a follower of Christ. He wanted the crowd to understand this going in. When he says “whoever believes in me”, he doesn’t mean we believe that he existed, he means we put our complete trust in him for salvation. The one thing God does not want us to do is “dabble” in Christianity. He does not want us to accept part but not all of his teachings, for instance. And he wants us to be wholly devoted to him.
I have heard it said that Jesus must be Lord of all or not Lord at all. But I also believe making Jesus Lord of our lives is a life-long process. Committing ourselves to him, however, and trusting him alone for salvation is not negotiable. He gave his life for us and wants ours in return. When he said “carry his cross”, his hearers understood that he meant “march to your death”. Jesus is not seeking casual onlookers, he is looking for whole-hearted disciples.