A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them,
"If you want to be My disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be My disciple.
And if you do not carry your own cross and follow Me, you cannot be My disciple.(Luke 14:25-27)
This segment is an intriguing one because it doesn’t seem to fit chronologically. But that should not bother you now. Right? I am sure you have heard enough times now as we have been going through Luke's gospel that when he said he was writing an ordered account for Theo he was not meaning to put it all in chronological order. No, Luke is following a logical connection here. That much is clear when we are aware that we have gone from a conversation seated at the table at the Pharisee's house to having a large crowd following Jesus. Luke has just simply taken another incident in the life of Jesus ministry and stacked it up against the story of the Great Feast and the point Jesus was making to the pharisees seated with him. What connection is there between the two?
Step back from the text and take a bird's eye look at it all. Jesus told them about a fig tree that didn’t bear any fruit. Then he healed a cripple woman, bent over for 18 years. He then tells the Pharisees who had a problem with what He had done for the crippled woman (on the Sabbath) that it was perfectly natural for God to heal in God's house on God's day. To which He added that some of them would be thrown out of the Kingdom. To which they advise Him to leave. Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you just don't get it. You just keep rejecting the prophets God sends and killing them. Inferring He was going to be One in a long line of massagers of God who were rejected. And still there is no fruit on the tree!! The Messiah came just as predicted healing the sick, giving sight to the blind and releases captives from satan's yoke. Jesus is invited to yet another Pharisees house and encounters another lame person and heals him, again on the Sabbath. Then He tells the Pharisee about the Great Feast to come and introduces the question of who should be there? What guests to invite. The Pharisee misses the point. So Jesus reminds him again of the poor, crippled, lame and blind and then closes with another reference to the poor, crippled, lame and blind in the context of the Great Feast of which he won't be a part.
Allow me to remind you of the place the poor, crippled, lame have in the scheme of things from heaven's perspective. Lev 19:15, 25:25 ff in the context of the year of Jubilee, Deut 15:11, 1 Sam 2:7-8, 2 Sam 9:13, Job 29:15, Ps 140:12, Prov 14:21, 19:17, 22:9, Isa 29:18, 35:5, 42:7,16; Jer 31:8, Ezek 16:49, 22:29, Matt 11:5, 15:30-31, Luke 4:18, 7:21-22 . The poor are a theme throughout the Gospel of Luke.
Following all of this Luke slips this segment in on the end of what preceded it. This is logically connected to the scene at the table although it is on the road and with a different group of people It begins a continuing segment related to the cost of discipleship, or the cost of following Jesus. You had better count the cost of your discipleship. The excuses that were offered by the people in the story were "lame" in the extreme. Having said all of that in the verses Luke has chosen before this, he then adds this segment related to the cost of being a disciple of Jesus. Luke is not meaning you to read this as though it were in a time sequence. He is meaning you to read it as the logical conclusion to what has gone before it. Don't offer lame excuses. Count the cost of your discipleship otherwise you are playing games similar to the excuses offered by the people in the story. It is like Luke and Jesus have used the Pharisees as the spur to goad the rest of us on to bigger and better things. The journey toward Jerusalem is all about the price you are willing to pay for your discipleship. Jesus makes a pointed statement to those following. A follower is a disciple. What sort of disciple are you? One like the pharisees: all hot air and no action? Deceit and subterfuge rather than honest open commitment?
Most people get stuck on the seemingly harsh statement, "If you want to be a disciple you must hate your father, mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters." I have often said to people in a mission recruitment context, if I can put you off I will. If you can be persuaded not to follow Christ or give your life to serve then that is good. At least you know where you stand and so do I. God didn’t need to test you to find out; He knew already. Jesus clearly wasn't saying literally "hate your father, mother et al". That would contravene the 5th Commandment and no one would live long in the land. This is hyperbole. The statement is meant to shock you out of your complacency. BY COMPARISON, as translated in the NLT above, let your commitment to following Christ be seen as hatred for the other relationships in your life. The words "by comparison" are not there in the original text but that is the sense of the statement. Don't offer any Christian platitudes. Don't pay lip service to the notion of following Christ. Really follow! No lame excuses like the pharisees but whole hearted commitment which will make the love you have for your parents and family and those closest to you seem like hatred by comparison. It is a very semitic way of saying others must take second place to commitment to God. There were no wishy washy preference statements of the nature I like this above that. Rather the way to say it was I love this and hate that. So your family are to take second place to following God. Ouch. Notice what is put in the last slot in this statement. "and even your own life". This makes a climactic statement. In the end put everything thing on the altar, even your very life. You need to bear your own cross.
There is debate as to whether the disciples and members of the crowd really understood what He was saying with this statement. Jesus has made veiled statements concerning the nature of His pending death before but only to the twelve disciples and always cloaked in metaphorical language. Now for the first time He says, "If you don't carry your own cross". Carrying the cross was a concept familiar to those living in the 1st Century Roman world. But there were no metaphorical senses to the meaning. Nothing to do with service or self-sacrifice. Only death. The cross was an instrument of death in the hands of the Roman conquerors who had borrowed the concept from the Persians who utilized the cross as a means to a tortuous death and the Romans perfected the agonizing nature of the death making it worse. The notion of carrying your cross clearly meant to bear the wooden beams to the place of your own execution. The meaning wasn't lost on those who heard. There was only one meaning to be deduced at that time. It was to be Jesus own experience with this form of death which was to give the words new meaning in future.
Before you embark on this road you had better weigh carefully the implications. This involves sacrifice and pain. Yours.
He that has no cross deserves no crown. Francis Quarles
Weak Christians are afraid of the shadow of the cross. Thomas Brooks
The life Christ lived qualified Him for the death He died and the death He died qualifies us for the life we live.
God took the worst thing that man could do to his Son, and transformed it into the best thing he could do for man.
If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.
But since our greatest need was forgiveness, God sent us a Saviour. Roy Lessin