The Cost of Following Him

25 Now great crowds accompanied him,… 25and he turned and said to them, 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. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 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? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 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? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”  Luke 14:25-33

Jesus had some pretty harsh words to say in Luke when He discussed the cost of following Him.  Many times, people will come to Jesus because He ‘sounds good.’  They are told that their lives will get better with Jesus in their life, and they attribute Jesus to receiving more blessings with finances, career, relationships, and happiness.  “Jesus will give you your best life now.”   They give their lives to a false Jesus in the hopes of satisfying their desires of this life, and so they don’t truly understand the cost of what following Jesus really looks like.

20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.[b]”  Matthew 13:20-21

So, did Jesus tell us to really hate our parents and siblings?  Absolutely not.  Jesus tells us to love, respect, honor, and care for our parents.

  • “‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”  Deuteronomy 5:16
  • He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; [a] and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’[b] ”  Matthew 15:3-4
  • 25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.”  John 19:25-27  (Jesus wanted his mother cared for after His death)

Does Jesus tell us to hate our children?  Absolutely not.  Just like God the Father loves all of us, His children, we are to also love and care for our children.

  • “that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,”  Titus 2:4
  • “But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.””  Matthew 19:14

So what does Jesus mean by telling us to hate our parents, our children, and even our own lives?

Jesus said that we are worthy to be His followers only if we are willing to put Him first above everything.  That does not mean that we despise everyone else around us, but it does mean that if given the choice of whom to follow and support, that we would choose Jesus even above our beloved family members, and even above our own lives.  If we are not willing to side with Jesus first, then we are not truly His.  Sometimes our family members won’t support our beliefs, as everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but if we shed our beliefs to appease them, then we have set aside the truth of Jesus and have denied His name and denied our relationship with Him.  So, in this way, the picture is that we would be willing to even hate our family and hate our own lives if it meant that Jesus needed to be first.  This shows us the seriousness of the cost of following Jesus.  He couldn’t have made us cringe anymore than making this statement as most of us love our families more dear than anything else on this earth.  The very thought of hating them makes us just sick to our stomachs.  Using this picture, Jesus can show us that the cost of following Him is very high.   It’s a lot of work, and sometimes, it will even cost us our very own families whom we love and sometimes it will cost us our very lives.

Here’s an example of how this might play out.  I met a Muslim convert in Ethiopia on a mission trip.  His story was amazing to me.  He had been a devout follower of Islam, their god of Allah.  His entire family and his entire community were Muslims.  There were not Christians within their whole community.  This man started to question the Koran, and wonder about certain things that were said in there.  He had cried out to Allah asking for the truth of what was meant by certain things.  He got no response.  And this made him seek more, asking for truth to be revealed to him.  One night, Jesus came to him in a dream and told him, “You will now follow me!”  When he awoke in the morning, he had no doubt that Jesus was the truth and the way and so he told his family that he was denying his Muslim faith and turning to Jesus.  His father told him, “I will not kill you if you leave now.  You are no longer a part of this family. You are no longer my son.”  The son gathered his belongings and fled his family and fled his city.  God had also woken up a Christian follower in a city that morning and told him to go wait under a tree and that a man was coming to him.  So, the Christian obeyed and the Muslim convert came past him a bit later that day.  The Muslim convert was embraced by the man under the tree, joined this group of believers, and grew strong in his faith.  Many years later, the convert was able to seek out one of his sisters to meet with her in secret and in the process, the sister came to faith in Jesus as well.  Many years later, the man’s entire family has converted to followers of Christ Jesus.  This is a story of how Jesus would call people to ‘hate’ their family above Him, that when given the choice of family or Jesus, that Jesus must come first, even to the point of having to be martyred for your faith.

The cost of following Jesus can be very high.  A majority of the world will not understand this cost nor will they embrace it, but if you are considering being a Christian, or have already given your life to Jesus, you are commanded to consider the cost before continuing on with the race.  Is this cost worth it to you?  Can you endure to the end and stand firm in your faith even when the world is coming up against you?

  • 17 These things I command you, that ye may love one another. 18 If the world hateth you, [a]ye know that it hath hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”  John 15:17-19
  • 12 And brother shall [a]deliver up brother to death, and the father his child; and children shall rise up against parents, and [b]cause them to be put to death. 13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.”  Mark 13:12-13
  • 16 But ye shall be [a]delivered up even by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolk, and friends; and some of you [b]shall they cause to be put to death. 17 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake. 18 And not a hair of your head shall perish.”  Luke 21:16-18

For Jesus calls us to be different than the world, to stand out from the crowd, to uphold righteousness and stand up for those who are treated unjustly.  He calls us to be the salt.  Being the salt means an active life serving the Lord Jesus Christ, a cost that may be extremely high.

34 “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 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.”  Luke 14:34-35

Father God, Help us to count the cost of serving you as minuscule in comparison to the great riches that you can provide through the eternal blessings of life everlasting with you.  Keep us ‘salty’ and secure in our faith in you.  Grant us boldness and firmness on what we stand for so that we do not cower in fear when opposition arises.  Lord, you promise opposition will be present in our lives, so knowing that, we turn to you in order to help us to overcome opposition and to always put you first in our daily lives.  Let us uphold the truth of your word in all that we do and all that we say.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.