The Cost of Following Jesus
In Luke 14:25, Luke mentions that large crowds were going with Jesus. Jesus turns to them and begins a somewhat surprising discourse:
If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?….So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
(Luke 14:25-28, 33)
Instead of promising his ever-enlarging group of followers their best life now, Jesus tells them to count the cost of following Him.
He tells them they must hate their family. He clearly does not intend for them to viciously hate their family members; rather, he teaches that their love for Him must so greatly exceed their love for family that in comparison they can be said to hate all others.
He says they must carry their own cross. A condemned criminal would carry their cross in humiliation towards their upcoming death. Likewise, a true follower of Christ must endure persecution and humiliation up to the very end.
He says they must give up all their own possessions. A follower of Christ relinquishes all ownership of goods and uses it for the purposes of God rather than themselves.
Count the cost. Becoming a follower of Christ is not an easy task. In fact, it is impossible.
Mark 10:17-31 describes the exchange between a rich man and Jesus. The rich man, although desiring the benefits of eternal life, was unwilling to give all his wealth away and follow Christ. Jesus then remarks that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
His disciples then wondered who could possibly be saved. Jesus answered:
With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.
Forsaking everything to follow Jesus in an essential, yet impossible task for the would-be disciple. We all need the grace of God to truly be able to follow Christ. He alone is able to change our selfish and prideful hearts into a heart that desires to put Him above all else.