Prepare to Listen. Take your time to be still, using this prayer: Turn my heart to your decrees, and not to selfish gain.
Prayerfully Read Luke 14:25-33
25Now large crowds were travelling with him; and he turned and said to them, 26‘Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30saying, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.” 31Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.
As Jesus’ journey continued, large crowds joined him, uninvited. Perhaps they hoped to become his disciples, or maybe they were drawn to his teaching or his miraculous powers and wanted to cash in on the ‘goodies’. Whatever their reason, Jesus challenged them to think through a decision to follow him. He didn’t make it easy, as his challenges reveal: “whoever does not … cannot be my disciple.”
The first challenge shocks us all. Whoever does not hate those we’re supposed to love the most, family, cannot be Jesus’ disciple. Hate is harsh, we think. However Jesus wasn’t using it in the sense of a visceral emotion of dislike, but in the sense of choice, choosing Jesus’ kingdom way over family. It’s “a Semitic expression meaning to turn away from, to detach oneself from,” all that hinders. The second challenge underscores this, “Whoever does not carry the cross… cannot be my disciple.” Everyone in that culture understood that carrying a cross meant death. Jesus demands, not half-hearted discipleship, but our all. As N. T. Wright notes, Jesus isn’t denying the importance of family or of our own lives. “But when there is an urgent task to be done, as there now is, then everything else, including one’s own life, must go on hold for the sake of the kingdom.” For this reason we must count the cost and our willingness to give up all. Despite what too many preachers say, Jesus doesn’t make life more comfortable. Just the opposite. Whoever does not … cannot….
Why do you think Jesus didn’t make it easy to follow him?
Respond to Jesus
Lord, forgive me when I selfishly seek to follow you in my own comfortable way. Keep me faithful to your costly way, remembering that whoever does not … cannot be your disciple. Amen.
Live obediently. Count the cost of following Jesus.
 Craddock, Fred B. Luke. Louisville, KY. 1990, p. 181.
 Wright, N. T. Luke for Everyone. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. 2001, p. 180-181.
I began reading my Bible when I was 8 years old. I loved it then (albeit didn't understand much) and I still love reading and studying it. I may understand a little more but I keep learning new stuff, seeing things I missed for years. This journey with Luke during Lent has been another new learning experience for me, deepening my relationship with Jesus. I pray it will do the same for you.