Large crowds were traveling with Jesus. Turning to them, he said, “Whoever comes to me and doesn’t hate father and mother, spouse and children, and brothers and sisters—yes, even one’s own life—cannot be my disciple. Whoever doesn’t carry their own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
“If one of you wanted to build a tower, wouldn’t you first sit down and calculate the cost, to determine whether you have enough money to complete it? Otherwise, when you have laid the foundation but couldn’t finish the tower, all who see it will begin to belittle you. They will say, ‘Here’s the person who began construction and couldn’t complete it!’ Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down to consider whether his ten thousand soldiers could go up against the twenty thousand coming against him? And if he didn’t think he could win, he would send a representative to discuss terms of peace while his enemy was still a long way off. In the same way, none of you who are unwilling to give up all of your possessions can be my disciple.
Luke 14:25-33 (CEB)
In this familiar passage on the cost of discipleship, we often read the first paragraph as another in a string of hyperbolic exaggerations Jesus uses to make a point. And then we interpret the second paragraph–the part about construction costs and battle plans–through that initial hyperbole. And what we come up with is a pretty straightforward reading: the cost of discipleship is high, and one had jolly well better be prepared to pay it if one wishes to be part of Team Jesus.
Luke, of course, works in layers here, as he does throughout his gospel. And so we must remember Luke’s agenda…to paint the Jesus saga in terms of a new Exodus movement.
So what are we to make of this teaching in that light? What else could Luke be telling not only his original audience, but us today, about what it means to be a disciple? Why is it important? And why should we care?
Join us for a special Labor Day Weekend edition of New Wineskins this Sunday, Sept. 4, in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company for some dynamic conversation about this fascinating passage as we wrap up our summer Lectionary series.
Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm
Conversation Begins: 7:00pm