I was listening to being read recently and God used it to open my eyes on this section of scripture about discipleship again. As someone who reads the Bible on a regular basis, I like to think I know what it means. In fact, these verses are pretty self explanatory – falling under the heading “The Cost of Being a Disciple”. But let’s take a minute and break these apart.
Here is verses 26-27 in the King James “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”
We know that Jesus is not commanding us to ‘hate’ our family, because that would be pretty un-Christ-like… Rather, (and if you are reading any of the newer translations you have this spelled out), we are called to love God so much that our closest human relationships seem pretty unimportant by comparison.
KJV In verses 28-30 reads: “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.”
I’m pretty sure we all get this: a warning to make sure you are committed to seeing the discipleship through prior to beginning or else you will be ridiculed and known as ‘that person who tried God once’. I also think there is something about resources that could be gleaned from this section: Jesus provides us with the resources we need to see discipleship through to completion – but there is still a price lingering in the decision (see above: hating others/ourselves by comparison to our love for God). The next part is what really made me take note.
KJV verses 31-33 “Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”
Here we have this little picture of a king with 10,000 inquiring if he can win a war against a greater king coming after him with 20,000. I like to think I understood this, but really, I just kinda glossed over it in the past. I acknowledged the idea of superior force or a larger army but never really thought about it. I found myself thinking a great deal about it when two Sundays ago I heard ‘You are the king with 10,000’ from the Holy Spirit. We are the kings with 10,000 and a greater King is coming with 20,000. We need to meet the terms of surrender while the greater king is still far off. Think about it: Jesus is the ‘King of Kings’ and ‘Lord of Lords’ – there is none greater because all authority in heaven and earth has been granted to Jesus Christ. What are his terms of surrender? What does it look like to be a conquered king? What authority does a conquered king continue to rule in? Does a conquered king retain any of his own authority? What kingdom is proclaimed in a conquered kingdom? And when we think of Jesus don’t most of us think of him as far off yet? No matter how far, there is no winning a battle against him, so by all means surrender and make peace with the Prince of Peace before he comes to conquer all and it is too late. How do we apply it to the cost of discipleship? Disciples surrender to a superior king – they are no longer in charge of their kingdoms – but rather, the act in the authority of the greater king – submitting their kingdoms to the rule of heaven. My question for you about 33 is this: Jesus says directly that whoever doesn’t forsake everything he owns/has cannot be his disciple – what do you own? what do you have? what must you really forsake in order to follow Christ?
Jesus says in answer to a question about taxes: render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but render to God what is God’s. And what of us is God’s, what should be God’s?
KJV verses 34-35 “Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
The end of this section is a warning – looking like a disciple leaves you purposeless and worthless unless you be salty. The saltiness belongs to the real salt – the true disciples of Christ. The saltiness brings a yearning for the living water and is also the proof of actual salt. Without saltiness (the power of the Holy Spirit) you are essentially good fo nothing. Yet another cost to be counted.