Make your Choice! Count the Cost! Don’t Quit!
Most people go through life hoping to finish well but very few plans with the end in mind. We all get excited when something starts! We will jump on and be a part of something new or something at its beginning. The problem comes when the newness begins to wear off. We all want the new car smell but after 3 months of paying a car payment and recognizing that it seems everyone has the same car as you that new car smell begins to fade!
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (Luke 14:25-35)
1. What possession would you most want to save in the event of a fire? Why is it so valuable to you?
2. What is our usual reaction when someone tries to take things that are precious to us away from us? Why?
3. What’s your initial reaction to these words from Jesus in vs25-27? Why?
4. Why might discipleship cost you relationships?
5. What actions can you take to ensure that your relationship with Jesus takes precedence over all other relationships?
6. What did Jesus mean by bearing one’s own cross and following Him (v. 27)?
7. Is it easier for you to prioritize your relationship with Jesus over your family or over your own interests?
8. What point was Jesus making through His illustrations about the tower builder and the king?
9. What did Jesus advise anyone to do before making a commitment to follow Him?
10. What does the salt analogy emphasize about discipleship?
In His concluding remarks about discipleship, Jesus compared discipleship to salt that has gotten wet and lost its flavor and its effectiveness. In reality, the salt really wasn’t salt at all. Similarly, a disciple who values his or her earthly possessions more than Jesus is really not a disciple at all. One enters into discipleship and continues in discipleship when he or she understands Jesus’ uniqueness and infinite worth and thus puts Him above all. Anything less is not true discipleship; anything less is like salt that’s salt in name only.
Love requires putting Jesus above everything and everyone else, including personal and family concerns. What Jesus expects of you is the same as what He expected of His first disciples. Evaluate your priorities and adjust any that are out of sync with putting Him first. That’s what Jesus expects of all His disciples.
Where have you seen the cost of discipleship in your life? Is there anything in your life right now that, if you gave it up, you would be better equipped to love people and point them to Christ? If so, what?
How can you support someone else in the group as he or she examines their own priorities this week? How might doing so help you love Jesus more deeply as well?
14:25. Jesus was back on the road again and heading toward Jerusalem. Great crowds were accompanying Him but were not following as learners of Him or committed believers. They simply were hanging around hoping to benefit in some way from Jesus’ ministry. Jesus’ desire was not for the followers to remain as they were but to draw them to a choice of personal commitment. An open invitation—anyone and comes to Me—begins the message, and its difficult stipulation is to hate one’s family. The list of family members includes the closest of family ties such as father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters. As the crowd was trying to absorb this teaching, Jesus added the additional requirement of hating even one’s own life. Then Jesus concluded that anyone who does not comply with His words cannot be My disciple.
Matthew’s Gospel (10:37) reveals that Jesus meant His followers were to love Him above everyone else, including their own families. Following Christ is giving Him primary allegiance. Christ followers understand and accept that their relationships with Jesus take precedence over all other relationships. Jesus made it very clear that if family attraction keeps us from following Him then our not following Him is evil with a pleasant face. His voice does not waver when claiming priority even over family loyalty—Follow Me (Luke 9:59).
14:27. In addition to putting Christ above family, Jesus added a second requirement for discipleship. The disciple must put Christ above self. Specifically, the stipulation is to bear one’s own cross, a requirement that pictures the crucifixion. In fact, a crucifixion victim carried his own cross beam to the place of death. It was the death Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem to face. If anyone does not put Jesus above any cost, Jesus said he or she cannot be His disciple. Again, the inclusive offer whoever ends with the negative exclusion cannot be My disciple.
14:28-30. For which one of you is a rhetorical question that begins the first story and draws Christ’s hearers into the plot. A builder, probably a farmer, had an idea—he wanted to build a tower. It must have been enormous because the foundation alone depleted his funds. His start did not have a finish. Such a project needed a first sit down decision. He did not plan to fail, but he failed because he failed to plan. The embarrassment—begin to ridicule him—could have been avoided if the man had thought through (Jesus’ word was calculate, meaning “count with pebbles”) the amount needed to finish the construction. The builder fell victim to rushing into a project before counting the cost.
14:31-32. The second parable introduces a similar story, but the main character is a king, going to war against another king. This king, who had 10,000 troops, was being invaded by a greater king, who had 20,000. Here was another sit down decision that called for thinking first before acting. Adding up the obvious, the king’s decision was to send a delegation while the enemy was still far off and ask for terms of peace.
14:33. Then Jesus began to apply the two parables to discipleship. The phrase So then unites the two stories. The phrase every one of you is an inclusion without exception, and the phrase does not give up describes an attitude that refuses to let go. We should understand Jesus’ command to give up their possessions as a willingness to do so whenever necessary to follow Him faithfully (Luke 12:33).
14:34-35. In His concluding remarks about discipleship, Jesus compared discipleship to “salt.” Salt was important to the people of the ancient East. It retarded decay in food, and of course it flavored food. In the first century most salt came from salt marshes rather than from the evaporation of salt water with the result that the salt contained many impurities. When salt got wet, it lost its flavor and its effectiveness. It was no longer salt at all. Similarly, a disciple who values his or her earthly possessions more than Jesus is really not a disciple at all. In a world full of competing voices, the disciple as well as the would-be disciple should give full attention to what he/she has just heard. This ending encourages ears to hear, to listen. This challenging statement moves information to application—put this to work in your life.