Q. Have you ever done a study on Luke 14:33 and the surrounding text when Jesus was describing what it would take to be a true disciple? Was he talking only to the crowd in front of him or is it applicable today? Is he really asking us to give up everything or rather be willing to give up everything?
A. The Lord’s instructions in Luke 14:25-35 are for the entire Church age. It’s a detailed explanation of what Paul later summarized in Romans 12: 1-2:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
It’s important to remember that the issue here is not salvation, which is free for the asking. It’s what we do in response to the salvation we’ve received that both Jesus and Paul were explaining.
It’s currently popular in the Church to distinguish between mere believers and true followers of Christ. To be saved we must only believe. But then in gratitude for such a remarkable display of God’s mercy, we should be willing to present our whole beings to be used for His glory. After all, Jesus ransomed us from death with His own blood (1 Peter 1:18-19). Therefore, our life actually belongs to Him (1 Cor 6:19-20).
In Luke 14:33 Jesus said we can’t be His disciples unless we’re willing to give up everything we have. We have to abandon all of our worldly dreams and aspirations in order to serve Him as He desires. This doesn’t mean we’re choosing a life of deprivation. Nor does it mean we have to leave family and friends behind and spend our life doing missionary work in some far off land. It means following him won’t give us the life many of us learned to desire as children. But it will give us a life filled with satisfaction we could not have found in any other way. Remember, the Lord said, “I have come that they may have live, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).