Updated: Feb 3
This is about what is required to be a disciple of Jesus. The same points are made in Matthew 10:24-42, but I will focus on what Luke wrote.
There are eleven verses found in Luke (14:25-35), which can be separated as ten stand-alone statements. All are relative to the central theme of Jesus telling us what is required of a disciple of his. The first and last words announce the beginning and ending of this lesson. Thus, Luke wrote, “he turned and said to them ,” and then ended with Jesus saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” This is the lesson, with its ten (or eleven) parts.
Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them,
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,
saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.
So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?
It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
1. “Great crowds” is a statement of the number who will want to follow Jesus, In the days of Jesus, they were all Jews. Today, the crowds can be seen as Christians.
2. When these are taken separately, while also in context, we see the second verse making a statement about blood relatives, where “wife and children” is reference to a male follower who “comes to [Jesus].” The offspring is directly related to the husband, his brothers and sisters, and his mother and father, through bloodline. The assumption is then that the “wife” is Jewish, as was Jesus, and therefore too was “anyone” who “comes to [Jesus].” Thus, this is a statement of the necessity that one reject any claim that being Jewish is favored over being Gentile. Likewise, it is a statement that being Christian has nothing to do with being related with other Gentiles calling themselves Christian. You are not born into this world as a favorite of God.
The Greek word translated as “to hate” is “miseó.” It actually means “to detest,” and implies a denunciation. Thus, one must denounce any favor in the eyes of God, based on physical blood relations.
3. Jesus spoke this prior to dying on a Roman cross. The Greek word written is stauros, which means “upright stake.” Certainly, a crucifixion cross could be described as an “upright stake,” but one finds the translations of the Apostles saying, “They hung Jesus from a tree,” which is a reference to the size the stake had to be to support a dead human body. I believe in this case, as a lesson to Jews, supporting his lessons that use the vineyard and grape vine metaphors, the stauros is the stake that keeps the vine elevated. Therefore, the primary meaning is to state, “You cannot be a disciple of mine if you are not willing to prop your own self upright, to keep you from falling over and becoming a vine on the ground.”
Of course, this is also a statement that no one can die for you, in a prophetic sense, as after Jesus had been crucified the “upright stake” morphed into a “cross to bear,” rather than an upright stake to use to stand tall. The implication is then less about death by crucifixion, instead meaning a willingness to endure suffering (persecution) before death. The actual separation of a soul from a body is something each of us must face individually, so Jesus did not die as a substitute for what we each must face. Our judgments, made by God, will not be based on how Jesus died to save us, but how we progressed from that point of salvation as a free-standing example of Christ within us. Each person is responsible for living a life worthy of being judged favorably at death. Therefore, all disciples of Christ must willingly accept responsibility for their individual acts of life.
4. The symbolism of a tower is an elevated state, as a spiritual level would achieve. A tower is more than one staked up in the vineyard, but one elevated so as to watch over and maintain the vineyard. To build a tower is then a statement of being an Apostle, who teaches disciples and those new implants into the field of watch. This means that a physical tower is a man-made elevation of status.
If a disciple of Christ wants to reach heaven, then each must become a tower, like Jesus. That means one must calculate what the costs involved are, as measured in losses, in order to obtain the desired gains. The story of the young rich man, who wanted to know what was required to reach the heavenly kingdom, is then in support of this statement, because when the young rich man asked and was told the costs (sell everything, give to the poor, and follow me). Once informed, the young rich man sadly walked away knowing the costs were too high for him. He could not make the required sacrifices in the material realm, for the promise of reward in an unseen realm.
5. This is a statement of how one will face rejection, after having not planned the costs properly, coming up short for all to see. This reflects an inability to hear Jesus, and/or an inability to understand what Jesus said. By failing to have that higher knowledge at one’s disposal (divine insight), one acts based on self-serving interpretations or ignorance. That brings on mocking. The ridicule will then cause one to lash out at the costs, pointing to one’s failure as reason for others not to try. This is why one cannot be a disciple of Christ if one does not have an “all in” commitment prepared beforehand. Being “all in” comes with the Holy Spirit, because individuals are to weak to make that commitment alone.
6. This is a statement of what others will say in response to those who fail. Failure speaks volumes as it announces fear that will keep others away. A conclusion that it is impossible to finish building what was begun says, “The project was too big.” While it requires a full commitment to Christ and God, Christ does not want messengers of failure sent out. Thus, his disciples will share success stories only.
7. When one sees Christ as the King, as God’s right-hand man, then one thinks disciples are expected to be lost in battle. A disciple can then be projected as an army of potential failures, when positioned against other leaders of armies. The thought then becomes, “Does Jesus have more willing to die souls than the opposition?” This is seeing God as being less than omnipotent. Jesus did not require numbers to begin Christianity. He only required those truly worthy.
8. This is a statement of plans for “surrender” or ways out, without losing everything. This says a disciple of Christ never worries about keeping anything of the material realm, when the goal is solely placed on the ethereal realm. Thus, a disciple of Christ does not connive and plot to maintain advantages or leverages over others. Only human leaders prepare delegations to beg for peace and mercy.
9. The summation of Jesus is if you cannot make a full commitment to God, through following the leadership of Jesus, then you will not cut it as a true disciple.
10. Some Bibles separate this line from the previous, which is a complete error. It is a statement about how valuable salt is to human life. We need salt to live, just as Jesus needed disciples to follow him and become his legacy. Still, if the salt is worthless, having lost its taste, then it is questionable how it will ever again become salt. The question, “How shall its saltiness be restored” is answered by saying, “Through the Holy Spirit.”
11. A disciple not worth his salt is given back to the earth. It is waste matter that has not value in the spiritual realm. Any who pretend to be disciples of Christ, when they do not measure up in words, thoughts, and deeds, they will be thrown away. As such, their false acts amount to themselves throwing away an opportunity of a lifetime.
When everything is taken within the context of what it takes to be a follower of Christ, it says that a disciple must be willing to become an Apostle, filled with the Holy Spirit. Many can join, but only the deserving will reach the desired goal. Under the adage, “Too many chief and not enough Indians,” Christians must realize that simply saying, “I’m a Christian” is not going to get you to Heaven. You have to bear your own responsibilities towards living like Jesus, until death, at which point you will know if you made the grade or not. Living like Jesus requires the Holy Spirit and an “all in” attitude.