What does it truly mean to be a disciple of Jesus? And what might the cost of spending our lives serving Jesus look like? We can look at Luke 14 where the Bible says what the cost will bring to be a disciple of his.
What is the cost of discipleship? The cost of discipleship will include putting Jesus first. You must lay down your life for the Lord. Being a disciple means not fighting for the approval of people. Discipleship can lead to persecution and even death because of your faith.
The simple answer to the cost of discipleship found in Luke 14. Let’s take a closer look at this chapter of Scripture.
Luke 14 – The Cost Of Discipleship Explained
In this portion of Scripture talking about the Cost of Discipleship, large crowds of people were following Jesus. They stood by him and began asking him questions.
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.Luke 14:25-33
In this passage Jesus is talking about how the cost of discipleship is giving up everything, renouncing all, in order to be his disciple.
It is not hesitantly coming to him, coming halfway, but making a complete turn around from what you might think you need in life.
Let’s continue to dive deeper into this passage and go verse by verse through it.
Luke Verse 26
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.Luke 14:26
Jesus boldly says that in order to be his disciple, nothing can come between you and God.
This includes not letting the opinions or even quality time with your parents, siblings, wife and children, come before God. This includes giving up your own life; what you may want your ideal life to look like, to surrendering completely to what God commands of you.
Jesus does not hold back in saying that we have to hate our family to be his disciple. This doesn’t actual mean to passionately detest our family members.
But compared to our love for Christ, nothing else should come even close in comparison to how much we love God. We should have so much love and dedication for the Lord, compared to any other thing or relationship in life.
Kind of an interesting way of putting it, but it makes sense when we see it that way.
Jesus says you cannot be my disciples unless you live the way God had originally designed us to live; connected to him before anything else. With this teaching, Jesus defines what a disciple is.
Disciple means “learner,” or student under Christ. To become a learner of Christ, Jesus has just shown that coming to God is like accepting an invitation to be under him (Luke 14:16-24).
Jesus’ disciples must consider themselves as dead to themselves, their own way of doing things, and alive to Christ.
The next passage in Scripture takes about the cost of discipleship including bearing your own cross to come after Christ.
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.Luke 14:27
When understanding what it means to bear our own cross, we must look at what Jesus did when bearing his cross.
He knew the kind of commitment he was taking. Essentially, Jesus was walking down a death row to his place of execution. He knew there was no turning back, and it was a total, complete commitment, with his life yielded to the will of God the Father.
He knew the Father’s will, and purposefully prepared for what was to come. It wasn’t easy and his human flesh didn’t want to go through with dying on the cross. Jesus asked the Father if there be any other way to go about God’s will for him not to be crucified.
Before Jesus’ ministry began on earth, he knew the challenges he would face. He fasted 40 days before his ministry began, and used the Bible to overcome him being tempted by Satan at the end of his fasting.
In the following verse Jesus gives an example of a tower being built.
Jesus explains that if one desires to build something, one first lays out an outline plan.
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?Luke 14:28
Anyone doing anything in life, should go over the cost of what they are trying to do. They should consider all aspects of what it takes to complete their task.
In this world, we are programed to think that we can do it on our own and maintain some kind of stability or control over our own lives. However, we must know life is unpredictable and the only things we do know are truth that is revealed in Scripture, and through nature in God’s creation.
The world tells us to find ourselves, and do what makes us happy. So it can be easy to think that when we become a follower of Jesus, God would only want us to be happy. But life, because of sin, is full of hardships and sorrows.
For a Christian standing up for God and the Bible, Jesus says persecution will arise. We don’t know the extent of it for each individual, but know that all at some point in life we will face trials and tribulations, and be tempted by the enemy to give into finding contentment elsewhere.
But with God’s help, we must do our own research, spending our time wisely, and know the Bible well enough that we know what the revealed will of the Father is.
We must not think of ourselves as more highly than we ought to, and know that it only through Christ in us, giving us strength, that it is possible to do as he says.
With this in mind, we are to prepare for the enemy’s attacks, know his tactics, understand our flesh is weak,
Jesus gave Himself for us totally and expects us to give ourselves to Him totally. If we do not prepare for what is to come, knowing what the cost is, then we will fall in our own weakness when things get hard.
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.’Luke 14:29-30
This verse is talking about how someone has laid a foundation but wasn’t able to finish it. We are to prepare and be rooted in Christ so we can finish what he began in us.
Further down this passage mentions a king who is going to see another king in war.
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?Luke 14:31
Of course, the king will analyze the situation before beginning. If the other king’s army has twice as many soldiers as him, he may reconsider putting his soldiers through something they don’t have a chance in.
If the king does not want to go through with it, he will consider other options. In the verse below it says that the king asks for a peace treaty.
And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.Luke 14:32
The king knew what he would be getting into and had to decide what decision he wanted to make.
So, therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.Luke 14:33
The passage concludes by saying that in order to be Jesus’ disciple one must renounce all. Once one makes this decision to follow Jesus, they would need to know that they must refuse to follow, obey, or recognize any other thing as #1 in their life.
In order to be a disciple of Jesus, the cost is giving up loving anything else in life more than Christ. This means:
- Putting God first in your life.
- Spending time with God, above anything else.
- Dedicating time to study and knowing his word.
- Relying on him as your strength, and not relying on others or yourself for fulfillment.
The cost of being a disciple of Christ is knowing that others and the world, may not always agree with you or see life from a Biblical perspective. People will think of you as different and persecution will come.
Persuction Will Arise
This can look different to all Christians, to all different levels. If you are in an area doing ministry or sharing Jesus where openly worshiping Jesus is restricted, it is a possibility that conflicts will arise.
But persecution isn’t always obvious or to the same degree, sometimes it is in the smaller things. All over the world, Christians are sometimes treated differently and seen as though they are following a made-up religion.
This is still considered persecution and I think it’s good to recognize this so that we don’t let ourselves be affected by it.
In 2nd Timothy it says,
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.2 Timothy 3:12
We must remember the world ruled by Satan in this present life, and that worldly people love sin. So of course they are going to hate those going against the desires of the flesh.
We shouldn’t even be surprised when people don’t like us for what we stand for. The Bible says,
Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.1 John 3:13
When Jesus was on earth, he was persecuted. He went against the religious leaders, and people hated him. The same people who claimed they loved Jesus and praised him, turned their backs on him and desired to persecute him.
In John, it says to remember who was hated first…it was Jesus.
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.John 15:18
But we shouldn’t let this phase us. Those who are against us, we should not just ignore, we should actually love and pray for.
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,Matthew 5:44
Mattthew 5:10 also says,
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 5:10
If you are insulted for the sake of Christ, the Bible says you are blessed.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.1 Peter 4:12-14
We have to remember to have a positive attitude through it all. The Lord will give us joy despite difficult circumstances.
Ultimately it is about God’s will being done, and when we feel like not everyone likes or agrees with us.
Giving up yourself for Christ is not a one-time deal. Taking up your cross for Christ should happen daily.
We are imperfect human beings who are used to being in the flesh and acting how we feel in the moment. This can cause a rollercoaster of emotions day-to-day.
God wants us to use our emotions but doesn’t want us to be controlled by them. When we are controlled by our emotions, our guard is often let down and our sinful flesh can come out.
Humans are flaunted by sin and everyday is a battle to not let ourselves sit in sin. Instead we are to be actively against our flesh and for Christ in us. This is easier said than done, so one must have an action plan to go anywhere in our walk with God.
We must sit down and strategize with what we know God says in Scripture, and what we know about our sinful self.
A Plan For Growth
The cost of discipleship is daily giving ourselves to God. This is a huge cost because it is much easier to just go with the flow. But in order to be Jesus’ disciple, we must daily surrender and have a plan for our spiritual growth and being.
Our devotion to Jesus should go before anything we have planned for that day. Maybe God wants you to go out of your way to talk to the woman at the grocery store in the check outline. Or maybe God puts it on your heart to call a friend and check up on her.
Will you be a disciple for Christ and give up your whole life loving and serving him?