Now great crowds accompanied Him, and He turned and said to them, “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 bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:25-33 ESV)
Jesus is really saying, “Be sure to count the cost before you sign up for discipleship with Me because it’s costly. I don’t want you to sign up naively and be surprised later when the cost is very high.”
You are probably asking, “How do I count the cost when I don’t know what’s coming in my life?” The answer is that Jesus requires, upfront, a commitment to the highest possible cost. The reason for this is that nothing later is going to surprise you because you’ve already accepted the highest, most excessive cost.
In other words, you don’t need to know the specifics of the cost in your own particular case if the agreement you sign is “I’m yours at any cost.”
There are two absolutes in Luke 14:33: “Any one of you who does not renounce all he has.” The first absolute is found in the words ‘any one’. This applies to every disciple, not just a select few. The second absolute is found in the word ‘all’. Your resources may stay in your possession for a time, but you must be ready at any time to let go of everything for Jesus’s sake.
So, how do you count the cost in advance when you don’t know what the cost will be in advance?” The answer is: you assume the cost could be total—–>all possessions given up, all relationships given up, all of life given up. That’s the expectation that Jesus calls for.
Simply put, there’s no negotiating here with Jesus. There’s no calculating. There is no saying, “Well, if the cost reaches this, then I’m not interested in Jesus anymore.” Jesus makes it clear you can’t sign up that way. Nobody signs up for seventy percent of what is required. That’s not what a true disciple of Jesus is. Disciples are all in, or they’re not in at all. They may appear to be in, as far as other disciples see them. But not according to Jesus, who sees everything.
The love of Jesus is not a factor. To prove it, let’s look at a very revealing part of Scripture. Matthew 26: 48-50 says, “Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying: “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed Him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.
Jesus sincerely called Judas Iscariot ‘friend’. Jesus gave Judas one more chance, in love. Judas, turned his back on it, and renounced his discipleship. This led to his tragic death by suicide. Let this be a warning to us.
Before I end this article, I must leave you with the flipside of the ‘cost’, which is the ‘reward’:
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. (Matthew 19:29 ESV)
There is no cost that you pay in following Jesus that won’t be made up to you a hundredfold in the resurrection. We need to remember the following parable:
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!” (Matthew 13:45-46 NLT)
A man sees and sells everything he owns to get that treasured pearl. In other words, “Everything is nothing!”, compared to the gains of having Jesus, the greatest treasure!