Conditions of Discipleship
“And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:27
Jesus identifies specific conditions of discipleship. In fact, He makes a bold statement three times in Luke 14 that “you cannot be My disciple.” We have an identity crisis in our culture. People go around claiming to identify as all sorts of things that they simply are not in reality. The same thing happens with faith. Many people claim to follow Jesus, when Jesus says, “you cannot be My disciple.” Given such a statement from our Lord, let us look at those conditions of discipleship.
In order to be a disciple of Christ, you must “hate” others. Luke 14:26 says, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” To “hate” in this case simply means to love less. Of course you are to love your neighbor, (Matthiew 22:39), but your love for God must come before your love for others, (Matthew 22:37-38). We must love God first without exception.
Have you ever considered what Jonathan gave up to serve the Lord? Jonathan was in line to be king after his father Saul. However, because of King Saul’s sins, the Lord determined that David would be king. In 1 Samuel 20, when Jonathan refuses to hand David over to king Saul to be killed, the king throws a spear at Jonathan to kill him! Again, king Saul is Jonathan’s dad! The cost of Jonathan’s discipleship was not only his future as king, he had to give up his relationship with his father. He gave those things up in order to please God.
You must bear your cross as a second condition of discipleship. Luke 14:27 says, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” This means you have to be willing to face persecution for the sake of Christ. Matthew 10:38 “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” Why is that? Because a disciple is one who learns from his teacher. You have to follow Christ’s example to be a disciple. Matthew 10:24-25 says “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master…”
2 Corinthians 4:17 reminds us, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory…” Again, bearing your cross and facing persecution is not optional, it is mandatory. If you do not bear your cross, Jesus said you cannot be His disciple. You must be willing to face any circumstance with the conviction necessary to serve God.
Finally, as a disciple you must forsake all that you have. Luke 14:33 tells us, “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. A disciple makes the choice to faithfully obey above all else. You must be willing to cut ties with anything that comes between you and your relationship with God, no matter what that is. We are to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” (Matthew 6:33).
Consider the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10 who was told to sell all that he had and give to the poor, but went away sorrowful because he had great possessions. In verse 21, Jesus told him that was the “one thing” he lacked. “One thing” was enough to prevent this individual from being a disciple. Jesus requires full submission, like Moses. Hebrews 11:24-27 tells us how Moses gave up the riches and pleasures he enjoyed as part of Pharaoh’s household in Egypt. in order to serve God.
While the cost of discipleship might seem high, consider the cost of not becoming a disciple. Matthew 7:21 says “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Not everyone who identifies as a Christian will be allowed to enter heaven. The cost of not being a disciple is our eternal soul! Consider this one more thing: everything you must give up to be a disciple - whether that might be relationships, your comfortable lifestyle, all of your possessions, or whatever - they all must be given up at death anyways! This life will come to an end. At that point, you will pay the price and give those things up, but it will be too late to reap your reward. However, if you choose to surrender everything for the sake of following Christ now, then you will get to enjoy an eternity with the Lord in heaven. The cost of discipleship is steep, but the cost of not being a disciple is far greater.