Online Bible Commentary
The Cost of Following Jesus
Luke 14:25 Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, 26 "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it-- 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. 34 "Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" (NKJV)
In this passage, Jesus has come to dinner. He is eating a Sabbath dinner at the home of one of the Pharisee rulers. Many guests were invited. Jesus is teaching during this dinner, and the people are amazed. They follow Jesus when he leaves the home and He turns to them to make sure that they understand that there is a cost to following Him (v. 25).
Jesus appears to say that we must hate our family and even our own lives in order to follow Him (v. 26). However, Jesus does not teach us to hate people, or our lives. So we know that this statement means something else. It means that our love for Him must be the priority and that everything else, including our family and our very lives, must come second. Our love for Him must be so great, in comparison to everything else, that it must seem that we hate everything else.
Jesus says that followers should be prepared to “bear” our “cross” (V. 27). We should calculate the cost beforehand so that we do not give up later. There is a cost to following Jesus. We may lose friends, family, status, or even our very lives.
Jesus cites two illustrations to make His point. The first illustration has to do with building a tower and the need to plan, or arrange, for that tower to be built in order that it can be finished (vv. 28-30).
The second illustration has to do with going to war and again how to plan, or arrange, for the best outcome (vv. 31-32). Both illustrations refer to having a plan, or to arrange things in order to have a good outcome.
The text appears to say that we must “forsake all” in order to follow Christ (v. 33). The Greek word used here for “forsake” is apotassetai, which is the middle voice of apotasso. Apo means “from” and tasso means “to properly arrange.”
So the term “forsake” in this passage means to properly arrange, or prioritize. It keeps in alignment with the rest of the passage for us to plan and prioritize when deciding if we should follow Christ. We should put Him first, and everything else second.
Jesus uses the example of salt that “has lost its flavor” (v. 34). We must calculate the cost beforehand so that we do not later become overwhelmed by the cost and lose our effectiveness like the salt loses its flavor.
Jesus does not want us if we are not fully committed to Him (v. 35). He does not want any half-hearted Christians who give up in mid stream and bring disgrace to His cause.