In this passage we read that large crowds ‘were travelling with Jesus’. It is one thing to be a traveller – a spiritual tourist – and quite another to be a disciple. Discipleship demands everything.
When I was a teenager, the then leader of my denomination, Percy Brewster, came to speak to a large gathering at the church I attended in Wigan. Christians had travelled from a number of churches to hear this godly man speak. He gave an inspirational message, and then he said, ‘Please will you stand if you are willing to give your life unreservedly to Jesus.’ All over the building people stood to their feet in large numbers. ‘No, please sit down,’ said Pastor Brewster. ‘You didn’t hear me. I said stand to your feet if you are willing to give your life UNRESERVEDLY to Jesus.’ I think many people still stood up at the second opportunity, but the point had been made. Commitment to Christ should not be entered into thoughtlessly.
There is a challenge here for preachers. We must spell out the cost of discipleship. Christianity is free, but it isn’t cheap. We shouldn’t hurry people into a quick and easy decision for Christ. Give them space and time to consider what Christianity is; what it will mean for their lives; what they are getting themselves into. ‘When Jesus bids a man come and follow Him, He bids him come and die.’ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
There is a challenge here for would be followers. ‘Look before you leap.’ Count the cost. A building that is started but not finished is called a ‘folly’. Take care you are not constructing one of those.
”Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple’ (33) The Message. That will get worked out in different ways in different lives, but at its heart Christianity will involve a surrendering up of everything to Jesus, and a decision that He will never take second place to anyone or anything. This kind of full-blooded commitment is world changing (34). There is nothing insipid about a genuine disciple.