“So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33 RSV)
How to detect a disciple of Christ? Here were crowds, enthusiastic for a ‘Jesus Movement.’ But Jesus turns on superficiality - with a challenge:
1. THE LOVE TEST. Jesus was not undermining the fifth commandment when insisting (v.26) that a disciple must first ‘hate’ father, mother and relatives; He was using the Hebrew idiom of ‘Selection.’ Romans 9:13 is entirely about God’s selective purposes with its quotation from Malachi 1:2,3: “Jacob I loved; Esau I hated.” When love for Christ takes over, it must occupy the number one spot. True – it may well enhance all other loves, but that’s the test! Which comes first?
2. THE DEATH TEST. Jesus then declared (v. 27) that those who did not carry their cross could not be a disciple. Everyone knew that the cross was a terrible Roman instrument of execution. Carrying one’s cross meant that you were to put your own interests last – to the very point of death if necessary. Certainly it means death to self-interest, self-indulgence, self-satisfaction and self-esteem. Many are marked at baptism with the cross - the mark of death - upon their foreheads.
3. THE FINISHING TEST. Jesus then told two parables – about the man who failed to think ahead about the cost of his building project, and the soldier-king who didn’t weigh up the full implications of going to war; both consigned ultimately to history’s book of heroic failures.
If discipleship is so demanding, then where does the appeal lie? Surely in the Man of Galilee Himself. Everything is worthwhile for His eternal friendship.