Jesus is looking for disciples—not crowds. A lot of people came to see Jesus during His ministry because He was performing amazing miracles. On occasions, He even multiplied loaves and fish…free food for all! But Jesus knew human nature. Those who followed Him just for the “show” or “freebies” would only continue as long as the benefits kept coming. Sadly, most of those in the crowd looked only to their own self-interests. Their attitudes mirrored the hearts of many today, “If Jesus makes me happy and blesses my life and my plans, then maybe I will serve Him.” As I am reading the Gospel of Luke, I notice that Jesus purposely made strong, demanding statements. “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25-27). He also said, “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). Statements like these did not exactly endear Jesus to the self-consumed—those wanting to use Jesus for their personal advancement. The Lord certainly does not encourage us to hate our family members or forbid us to own basic things in life. However, His call is one of complete surrender to Himself. The true believer follows Jesus with the settled attitude that “no person or thing is more important than loving and obeying Jesus Himself.” May the One who examines the heart find us wholly devoted to Him, whether our circumstances are easy or extremely difficult. Complete salvation from Jesus requires nothing less than complete devotion from us. Paul said, “I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).
Pastor Mark Boucher