Read: Luke 14:25-35
In Luke’s gospel account, we’re still far from events directly surrounding Easter, but Jesus is already talking about the cross. Take some time and read the passage linked above as we consider Easter. I have to believe that most failed to understand the significance of this line of thought when Jesus spoke these words:
And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:27
No one in their right mind would have thought He would soon carry His own cross on the way to Golgotha.
This week is Holy Week and the overwhelming thought of the crucifixion weighs heavily on my mind. Tomorrow we will consider The Way of the Cross (our term) based on The Stations of the Cross from our Catholic Church brothers and sisters.
Jesus goes on to explain what He means in the passage and concludes with this vivid reality:
In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. Luke 14:33
Being a disciple is so much more than accepting Christ as Lord and Savior. I get frustrated when I hear the statement, “It’s easy, all you have to do is ____ and you’re saved!” Most of the time the altar call happens when we’ve tugged on emotions through Spirit-lead music or preaching, we’ve worked up emotions to the brink and deliver the punchline.
Does this means we shouldn’t invite people to accept Jesus? By no means! I’m certainly not suggesting we refrain from offering the invitation, but when I read this passage, I get the message that discipleship is far more than decisionship. And we should be clear and up front with that distinction.
In other words, make the altar call, but don’t preface the invitation with words that this is an easy path. Make it hard, but not legalistic and not based on human conditions. Point to the words in this passage, words from Jesus.
Consider this example: imagine being selected for a sports team that openly accepts anyone, regardless of ability, compared to one that wants you to demonstrate your skills and abilities. The first team has lots of players, but lacks any sense of accomplishment compared to the second (not to mention the ensuing season of competition). The first team holds hands a lot and has fun, but even after being selected for the second team, I know I have to keep proving myself daily in order to keep my spot.
In our culture, we’ve taken sports to an unhealthy extreme, but the concept I’m trying to paint is one of distinction. I want nothing to do with the Universalist “church” movement. My hope is that Christians, true Christ-followers, look different from the rest of the world because we are willing to take up our cross for the sake of Christ.
Jesus makes it clear when He explains what it means to be a disciple and what it means to NOT be a disciple:
…such a person cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26
Lord, I want to be Your disciple. Help me understand how that looks today. Make it hard. With the help of the Spirit, I can and I will follow You, all the way to the cross and beyond.