Demands for Dedicated Discipleship

Bible Book: Luke  9 : 23
Subject: Discipleship; Dedication; Christian Living

Quite often, when people think about Christ’s twelve disciples, they do so from sort of a romantic, idealistic frame of mind. They think about how wonderful it must have been to walk and talk with Jesus—to hear His words and see His miracles. Some, perhaps, even muse over the atmosphere of love that must have been felt in the presence of the Lord Jesus. And, without doubt, all these things are exciting to ponder in one’s mind.

However, one doesn’t have to read far into the gospels to discover that the life of Christ’s twelve disciples, as well as all who committed their life to Him, was anything but rosy or romantic. It was a life that could rightly be characterized as one of denial, difficulty, and often, death. To be Christ’s disciple meant that one was willing to be totally committed to Christ, their Master, and to champion His cause. That disciple’s commitment often resulted in condemnation from his family and peers, contempt from the religious leaders of that day, as well as condescending and cruel treatment from people in general.

When Jesus spoke to people about discipleship, He never glossed over the truth of the issue. This fact is verified by the words of my text. They don’t paint a very glamorous or enticing picture for disciple-want-to-be’s. What these words do make clear is that discipleship required an “all or nothing” kind of commitment to Christ. There were certain demands that Christ made of His disciples. These demands are still valid for His disciples of today. Let’s take a look at them.

Theme: Dedicated disciples of Christ must have…


A. One’s Relationships Must Not Rival Christ For Control Of Their Heart.

Luke 14: 26 “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”

I remember that the first time I read this verse, I thought that this was an impossible requirement. “How could anyone be expected to hate one’s relatives and immediate family, in order to claim Christ as Savior, and live a committed life for Him? I thought to myself.” In light of the fact that the Bible specifically tells us to “love one another” (John 13:34, 35), this verse seemed to be a biblical contradiction. But I assure you it’s not a contradiction.

The word “hate,” found in this verse, is without question, very strong language. Surely Jesus isn’t saying that we must bear ill will toward our family and others with whom we have close relationships, in order to be saved. Indeed He is not. One commentator explains by saying, “This is strong language to indicate that devotion to one’s family must take second place to devotion to Christ.”[1] Another writer agrees with this idea when he says, “One’s loyalty to Jesus must come before his loyalty to his family or even to life itself.”[2]

The NLT is helpful here. It translates as follows:

Luke 14: 26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.”[3]

The Amplified New Testament is helpful here by stressing the fact that Christ’s statement draws a comparison between the believer’s love for Christ and their love for family and others. It reads as follows:

Luke 14: 26 “If any one comes to Me and does not hate his [own] father and mother [that is, in the sense of indifference to or relative disregard for them in comparison with his attitude toward God] and [likewise] his wife and children and brothers and sisters, [yes] and even his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.”[4]

B. One’s Riches Must Not Rival Christ For Control Of Their Heart.

Luke 12:15 “Beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”

1 Tim. 6:9 “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.


17 Charge them that are rich in this world that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all thing to enjoy;”

In Luke 12: 15, the word “covetousness” means, “a desire to have more.”[5] The idea here is synonymous with the sin of greed.

The idea behind the words “…they that will be rich…” of 1 Timothy 6:9 is those who exhibit a craving, a preoccupation with getting wealth. The fact is that anything could become an obsession, causing one’s loyalty to Christ to become compromised. Christ, and Christ alone, must control the heart of God’s child.

Being obsessed with having more will not only sap the life out of your fellowship with God, but it can literally sap the life out of your body.

How Much Land Does a Man Need?

Leo Tolstoy once wrote a story about a successful peasant farmer who was not satisfied with his lot. He wanted more of everything. One day he received a novel offer. For 1000 rubles, he could buy all the land he could walk around in a day. The only catch in the deal was that he had to be back at his starting point by sundown.

Early the next morning he started out walking at a fast pace. By midday he was very tired, but he kept going, covering more and more ground. Well into the afternoon he realized that his greed had taken him far from the starting point. He quickened his pace, and as the sun began to sink low in the sky, he began to run, knowing that if he did not make it back by sundown the opportunity to become an even bigger landholder would be lost.

As the sun began to sink below the horizon he came within sight of the finish line. Gasping for breath, his heart pounding, he called upon every bit of strength left in his body and staggered across the line just before the sun disappeared. He immediately collapsed, blood streaming from his mouth. In a few minutes he was dead.

Afterwards, his servants dug a grave. It was not much over six feet long and three feet wide. The title of Tolstoy’s story was: How Much Land Does a Man Need?[6]

C. Other’s Respect Must Not Rival Christ For Control One’s Heart.

Matt. 23:12 “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”

3 John 9 “…Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.”

Col. 1:18 “And he is the head of the body, the church…that in all things he might have the preeminence.”

The is no injunction in the Bible prohibiting Christians from striving for a position or office in life that would enable them to better themselves and others through their efforts. However, when one’s goal in life is one of selfish ambition and self-importance, there is definitely a spiritual problem at the core. Diotrephes was such a man. He had to be first and foremost in everything. He loved to be in the lead position—to be in charge. In his eyes, he was somebody. If a person thinks the world revolves around them, it’s only because they live in a very small world.[7]

Some folks seem to think that life is all about them. It sort of like the woman who made the following statement, while at a party: “My husband and I have managed to be happy together for 20 years. I guess this is because we’re both in love with the same man.”[8] Christ is to have first place in the Christian’s heart (Col. 1:18). This poem, written by Paul Gerhardt, expresses well the place Christ should fill in every child of God’s heart.

Jesus, thy boundless love to me

No thought can reach, no tongue declare;

Then [bend] my wayward heart to Thee,

And reign without a rival there.[9]


Luke 14:27 “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”

Is there anything in your life, such as a habit, or a secret sin, that you stubbornly refuse give up? Are there areas in your heart and life that you refuse to give over to God’s control? If there are any refusals in your relationship with Christ, it is a broken relationship. It is a powerless relationship. It is a fruitless relationship.

A. We Must Die To The Principle Of The Old Life.

Rom. 6:6 “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.


11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.”

Gal. 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

The problem with “sin” is the “I” in the middle. That was the principle we lived by in the old life. A.T.&T used to have what they called the “I Plan.” Actually, they weren’t the first ones to come up with it. The devil originated the “I” plan long ago. It has worked very well for him, I might add. Whether sinner or saint, if Satan can keep them focused on “self,” rather than the Savior, he can keep them defeated and unfruitful for Christ.

The life of a disciple of Christ is “…a life with the ‘I’ crossed out, and God’s will supreme in everything.”[10] The life of a disciple is a life that says with Christ, in Gethsemane, “…not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:24).

B. We Must Die To The Passions Of The Old Life.

Rom. 13:14 “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”

Gal. 5:24 “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”

In both references above, the Williams New Testament, renders the word “flesh” with the words, “your lower nature.”[11] This is synonymous to what is commonly called the “sin nature.” The “flesh” is much like a spoiled child, who always wants its own way, and likes to be constantly pandered and catered to.

We do well to take the words of T.O. Chisholm to heart:

My Soul Is All I Have

I am resolved I will not be

The dupe of things I touch and see;

These figured totals lie to me—

My soul is all I have.

Illusive cheats are goods and gold:

These chattels that I have and hold

Are preys of moth, and rust, and mold;

My soul is all I have.

A builder, I, but not with stone;

The self I am, nor flesh nor bone:

My house will ‘dure when stars are gone;

My soul is all I have.

For me to traffic with my soul

Would make me brother to the mole;

The whole world’s wealth were but a dole;

My soul is all I have.

I must take care I do not lean

T’ward what is sordid, false, and mean;

I must not touch the thing unclean;

My soul is all I have.

Oh, Keeper of the souls of men,

Keep mine for me from hurt and stain,

For, should it slip my hand—what then?

My soul is all I have![12]

C. We Must Die To The Program Of The Old Life.

2 Cor. 6:17 “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,”

Gal. 6:14 “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

1 John 2:15 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father Is not in him.”

When we were lost, “The old program was ‘Go with the world;’ the new program is ‘Go into the world;’ no longer pandering to the world, but preaching to the world.”[13]


A. We Must Not Retreat, Despite The Cost.

Luke 9:57 “And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”

Being a true follower of Christ isn’t a romantic endeavor, but a rough endeavor. That’s because Satan isn’t playing games. For that reason, Christians need to be sure to take the Christian life seriously. There are hardships involved. Be sure you count the cost of being a disciple of Christ.

Rock Flowers

“Thou hast shewed thy people hard things” (Ps. 60:3).

I have always been glad that the Psalmist said to God that some things were hard. There is no mistake about it; there are hard things in life.

Some beautiful pink flowers were given me this summer, and as I took them I said, “What are they?”

And the answer came, “They are rock flowers; they grow and bloom only on rocks where you can see no soil.”

Then I thought of God’s flowers growing in hard places; and I feel, somehow, that He may have a peculiar tenderness for His “rock flowers” that He may not have for His lilies and roses. Margaret Bottome

The tests of life are to make, not break us. Trouble may demolish a man’s business but build up his character. The blow at the outward man may be the greatest blessing to the inner man. If God, then, puts or permits anything hard in our lives, be sure that the real peril, the real trouble, is what we shall lose if we flinch or rebel. Maltbie D. Babcock

“Heroes are forged on anvils hot with pain,

And splendid courage comes but with the test.

Some natures ripen and some natures bloom

Only on blood-wet soil, some souls prove great

Only in moments dark with death or doom.”

“God gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.”[14]

B. We Must Not Retreat, Despite The Controversy.

Luke 9:59 “And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.”

There may have been two reasons why this man made this request before following Jesus. First, he may have been thinking about the controversy that would have resulted from his failure to care for his father until his death. Secondly, he may have been thinking along the lines of convenience. At the death of his father, he would receive an inheritance, and perhaps would have had that for security, should his endeavor with Jesus fail.

C. We Must Not Retreat, Despite The Concern.

Luke 9:61 “And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.

62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

At first, the request of this man seems to be reasonable. But the point that Jesus seems to make here is that there was concern in this man’s heart and mind. He was divided in his commitment. This would have hindered his effectiveness for Christ. We cannot keep looking backward when we have been called forward.

[1] Charles F. Pfeiffer, Old Testament Editor, and Everett F. Harrison, New Testament Editor, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Copyright © 1962 by The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, pg. 1053.

[2] John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Editors, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Copyright © 1983 by SP Publications, Inc., All rights reserved, pg. 243.

[3] Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. All rights reserved, pg. 1221.

[4] The Amplified New Testament, Copyright © 1958 by The Lockman Foundation, pg. 111.

[5] W.E. Vine, with Merrill F. Unger and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Copyright © 1984, 1996 by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, TN., An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, pg. 136.

[6] Bits and Pieces, November, 1991.

[7] Rev. Donnie L. Martin.

[8] Author unknown. Acquired from

[9] Paul Gerhardt.

[10] Stephen F. Olford, Committed To Christ And His Church, pg. 33.

[11] Charles B. Williams, Williams New Testament, Copyright © 1986 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, TN., pgs. 354, & 419.

[12] T.O. Chisholm.

[13] Stephen F. Olford, Committed To Christ And His Church, pg. 35.

[14] Streams In The Desert, compiled by Mrs. Charles Cowman, devotion for May 24, 2008.