Some years ago, I went to work in a country that had a reputation for not being safe. I took my wife and two small boys. A Christian friend said to me, “How could you take your children to a place like that? I would never do that.” Actually, we considered it a privilege to take our children to that country. However, my friend’s comment troubled me. Didn’t she understand that the decision to follow Jesus Christ is a costly one, and may even have implications for the family?
In this passage, Jesus teaches that He must have first place in our lives. This means He has priority over our families (v. 26). When Jesus calls us to “hate” our families, He is being deliberately provocative. We are still to lovingly fulfil our obligations to our families. One of Jesus’ last acts was to ensure the well-being of His mother (John 19:26–27). However, following Him may involve costly family decisions.
Following Jesus involves carrying a cross (v. 27). For Jesus, this was literal. For most of us, it will be metaphorical. To carry a cross is to walk a road that leads to death. Jesus is saying that we may be called upon to make great sacrifices for the sake of Him and His kingdom. Are you ready for that?
The final two parables exhort us to seriously think through what following Jesus may mean for us (vv. 28–33). In many countries, the decision to become a Christian is a life and death choice. We need to ensure that enquirers into Christianity know exactly what opposition and suffering they might face if they become a Christian.
Jesus’ final warning reminds us that a disciple who is not willing to make the tough choices or persevere with Jesus when things get tough, is like salt that is no longer salty (v. 34). It is useless.
While it is not easy to follow Jesus, we must remember all that Jesus has done for us. In love, He offers us salvation free of charge. In love, He has given His own life so that we might be forgiven and reconciled to God. In love, He tells us, before we commit our lives to Him, what discipleship will involve.
Before you became a follower of Jesus Christ, did someone tell you what it would involve? Why do we sometimes seem reluctant to do that?
What advice about the cost of discipleship would you give to someone who wants to become a Christian?