Come at all costs - but count the cost
Come at All Cost, but Count the Cost (Luke 14:25-35)
The presence of Jesus always attracted great crowds. The curious, the excited, and the merely bored followed Him. In Luke 14, Jesus turned suddenly toward the crowd walking behind Him. He was walking toward a cross, and they did not understand the implication of following Him. Three times he told them of those who "cannot be My disciple." He obviously wanted quality more than quantity. He warned them that following Him is a life of repudiation and renunciation. He gave two unforgettable illustrations of the cost to a Christian in building and battling. Come at all cost, but count the cost.
Authentic Discipleship Always Costs (vv. 25-27)
Discipleship costs in relationships. Jesus refuses discipleship to anyone unwilling to "hate" life's closest relationships. Jesus did not mind using bold, striking language. He knew well enough we would dilute it and qualify it! Matthew stated the same principle positively: whoever loves life's closest relationships more than Christ is not worthy of Christ (Matt. 10:37). Jesus Himself paid this price (12:46-50). He predicted that His followers would face division in life's closest ties in order to follow Him (Luke 12:52-53). He also predicted a compensation beyond all imagination for those willing to follow (Matt. 19:29).
Following Jesus is not always incompatible with the claims of life's closest and dearest. But when it is, the disciple has already made the choice. In the disciple's love for Jesus, every other claim is subordinate.
Discipleship costs renunciation. The "hate" extends to one's own life itself. In comparison to the claims of Christ, our very existence becomes hateful. To take up our cross puts us in the position of those already condemned to die, those who regard life in this world as over. It is a mentality of martyrdom (Rev. 12:11). To settle this settles all else.
Building a Disciple's Life Costs (vv. 28-30)
Building a disciple's life costs in consideration. A man wishing to build a tower (a farm building, watchtower) must "sit down" to count the cost. This indicates serious consideration and deliberate calculation. The decision to follow Jesus must be made positively, but it must be made thoughtfully.
This consideration must be made in light of the ultimate evaluation. A builder who begins but only lays a foundation is subject to ridicule and then shame. The same is true of the disciple who starts but cannot continue the Christian way.
Battling in a Disciple's Life Costs (vv. 31-32)
Battling in a disciple's life also calls for careful consideration. Jesus portrays the odds as "two-for-one." Each of His men must be as strong as two of the enemy. Positively, the Christian life is a construction. Negatively, the Christian life is a destruction—a battle against all that stands in the way of God's will for life. We must give careful consideration to the resources both for building and battling.
The battle is also subject to an evaluation. The person who cannot summon the resources to win the battle must face the shame of permanent surrender, defeat at the hands of a stronger enemy. Jesus does not here indicate that we should surrender in life, but rather that we should be sure to have the resources not to surrender!
Our Lord wants builders and battlers. This word does not mean "Count the cost, and refuse to follow." Come to Christ at all cost, but count the cost.