German pastor, theologian, and Nazi dissident, Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote in The Cost of Discipleship: "The followers of Jesus for His sake renounce every personal right…. If after giving up everything else for His sake they still wanted to cling to their own rights, they would then have ceased to follow Him.” The life of discipleship can only be maintained as long as nothing is allowed to come between Christ and ourselves.
In Luke 14, Jesus has been addressing the multitudes and has given them an invitation to sit at the table of God. He invites those that He is dining with to follow Him to deeper levels of sacrifice and spiritual surrender. However, He tells them that they may not want to accept this invitation if they are only accepting it on emotional enthusiasm. Jesus does not at all mind sharing how unapologetic He is about the kind of loyalty that He demands from those who would follow Him.
He makes it clear that anyone who comes to follow Him but refuses to let go of everything and everyone else, cannot be His disciple. If we are not willing to surrender whatever is dearest to us, we cannot be Christ’s disciple.
We often talk about Jesus being loving and caring and nurturing, but we must also remember that, sometimes, He will put us at risk to show us our gifts and our calling. He will make us lose in order to gain. He will let us fall in order to prove that He is a protector. He demands that we anchor our loyalty to Him alone.
If Jesus were invited today to preach to you, and told you that He is willing to offer you salvation, but you have to be willing to put your relationship with Him first, before your family, before yourself, and before anything you hold dear, would you jump up and run down the aisle, knowing how badly we know we need Jesus? Or, would you choose not to do so because you have other priorities?
This is a hard extension of divine invitation. Many in the crowd that day missed the hook that framed the invitation that Jesus was extending. Jesus was fellowshipping with them so that He could invite them to become a disciple rather than a guest. Guests have no demands made of them. Guests do nothing more than whet their appetites. There are no chores, duties, or sacrifices required to be a guest.
We can’t love Jesus and stay a guest. And, we can’t walk with Jesus and continue to have priorities that we place before Him in our lives. When we make the decision to follow Jesus, we are entering into a covenant to become more than a guest, and we must be prepared for the sacrifice and spiritual surrender that this decision requires.