victory at all costs…(4)

Jesus shocked the crowd when he said,
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters…he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26






But see what Jesus’ hatred looks like…

Mary and John
‘Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.’ John 19:25-27 


C.S.Lewis, in his book, ‘Reflections on the Psalms’, sees evidence of this sort of hatred in Psalm 45 (called ‘a love song’ in its title) when the psalmist says to the daughter called to be bride to the king, ‘…forget your people and your father’s house, and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him.’ (Psalm 45:10, 11)


Lewis insists that we should see the ‘plain…painful sense’ intended; the costly, probably fearful experience of a young girl separated from her family, even if that separation is to a marriage that will bring future blessings, ‘In place of your fathers shall be your sons; you will make them princes in the earth. I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.’ Psalm 45:16, 17


Lewis continues, ‘…all this has also its poignant relevance when the Bride is the Church. This ‘turn your back’ is of course terribly repeated, one may say aggravated, by Our Lord – ‘he that hateth not father and mother and his own life.’ (Jesus) speaks, as so often, in the proverbial, paradoxical manner; hatred (in cold prose) is not enjoined; only the resolute, the apparently ruthless, rejection of natural claims when, and if, the terrible choice comes to that point.’

But, may an aspiring disciple be too eager to make this ‘terrible choice’?

C.S.Lewis concludes with a warning…hate1
“Even so, this text (Luke 14:26) is, I take it, profitable only to those who read it with horror. The man who finds it easy enough to hate his father, the woman whose life is a long struggle not to hate her mother, had probably best keep clear of it.”


…restorer of streets to dwell in…


road work
Cry aloud; do not hold back; 
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people
their transgression, 
to the house of Jacob
their sins. 


Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
    they delight to draw near to God.

‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
    Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’

Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
    and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
    and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
    will not make your voice to be heard on high.

Chagall fast

Is such the fast that I choose, 
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed, 
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?

Will you call this a fast, 
and a day acceptable
to the Lord?  


“Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of wickedness,
    to undo the straps of the yoke,
    to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?


 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

Dawn light
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say,
‘Here I am.’


If you take away the yoke from your midst,
    the pointing of the finger, 
    and speaking wickedness,
 if you pour yourself out for the hungry
    and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
    then shall your light rise in the darkness 
    and your gloom be as the noonday.


And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail. 


And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations
of many generations; you shall be called
the repairer of the breach, 
the restorer of streets to dwell in.



SermonIf you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, 
  from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
  and call the Sabbath a delight and
  the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
  or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
  then you shall take delight in the Lord,
  and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
  I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
  for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

  Isaiah 58:1-14  ESV

victory at all costs…(3)


disciples in clay

Luke records that Jesus made three statements and asked two questions about the cost of discipleship, effectively discouraging any from following him whose real interest was in feasts but not faithfulness, in healing but not holiness and in miracles but not martyrdom. Luke14:25-33

With each statement Jesus made, the cost of discipleship accrued in relationships.



First, Jesus said, his disciples must put him before
their families.

Second, Jesus said, his disciples must put him before themselves.

Thirdly, Jesus said, his disciples must put him before their possessions.  

And with each question, Jesus made an issue of carefully considering those costs.

First, Jesus asked, ‘Are you sure you
have what it takes to finish?’

Second, Jesus asked, ‘Are you sure you have what it takes to fight?’


‘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

victory at all costs…(2)

Jesus posterIf anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple…any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:26, 27, 33

Jesus looked at the crowd that followed him and he knew what was on their minds.
Healed of their diseases, delivered from their demons and fantastically well fed, they still wanted more. So he repeated, more emphatically, what he had already said (9:23-26);
to follow him was more than a matter of bread and fish, it was a matter of life and death.

Then, just maybe, a sort of Galilean Wave, as thousands stood up to go home where bread and fish might not be free but at least they were still comparatively cheap.


If Jesus noticed, he disregarded it and continued talking about crosses; not politically astute for a would be King in a country occupied by Romans, or so the crowd  thought. Instead of promising them prosperity in the land of milk and honey, the great hope of Israel, he told them that if they truly wanted him to be their King then first they would need to give up everything they already had.



Discipleship Bonhoeffer quote

Luke 14:25-33 records that Jesus made three statements and asked two questions about discipleship. He measured the cost in terms that would have shocked the crowd, and then he asked them,  ‘Are you ready for that?”

victory at all costs… (1)

Churchill victory‘We are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history….I would say to the House as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs — Victory in spite of all terror — Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.

Winston Churchill’s first speech to the House of Commons as Prime Minister 13/5/40.

Jesus poster
‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.’ Luke 14:26, 27


Churchill made no claims to originality with either the ethos or the substance of his wartime address. He knew the debt he owed to Theodore Roosevelt and even Giuseppe Garibaldi, men who at other times confronted their people with the cost of victory.

Jesus previously excited the crowds with signs and wonders, healings and miraculous feasts of bread and fish but he knew many followed him for the sake of the bread and not because they grasped the real meaning of the signs; the Kingdom of God was coming but at a cost altogether unexpected by them.

Luke records in his gospel (14:25-33) that Jesus made three statements and asked two questions about the cost of discipleship. The ultimate cost of victory rests with him.

‘You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ Romans 5:6-8

they also serve…

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
John Milton ‘On His Blindness’ c.1655

John MiltonOften quoted out of context the last line of Milton’s sonnet is still familiar 360 years after it was written at the peak of his blindness.
I was reminded of it recently while watching video of an address by Mark Talbot delivered to the ‘Works of God Conference-God’s Good Design in Disability’ at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minnesota on November 8th 2012.

You can watch the entire video here

Mark Talbot

Mark Talbot is an Associate Professor at Wheaton College.  His address, ‘Longing for Wholeness: Chronic Suffering and Christian Hope’, is a personal testimony to the grace of God worked out in and through disability.


John Piper
‘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.’

Romans 12:2 


Dr. John Piper, in a series of sermons preached in 1990, asks, in relation to this verse from Romans, ‘How shall we get this new mind?’ You can listen to his entire sermon here but I was particularly challenged by his suggestion, that, if we are serious about this ‘transformation’, we should, ‘focus our attention on the Glory of God’.

  • He mentions three verses from Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth;

‘And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.’
2 Corinthians 3:18

‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.’
2Corinthians 4:16

‘So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’
2 Corinthians 4:18

Then he says, ‘Do we want to be made new? Then stop watching the world!’

Family TV‘Why (do) we want to be entertained by the unbelieving so much?
Why are we so hooked on television, video, movies and radio?
We say, ‘World; tell me, show me, feed me, shape me, make me.’

‘That’s what we are doing…but,
‘You become what you behold!’’

He says, ‘Might there not be some insight here as to why we live in weakness and failures in the temptations of our lives? Why we don’t have the effect in the world that we would like to have? …Is there perhaps some correlation (with) the fact that we focus so much on the world, we live in the world, we ooze world, we watch world, we read world…’

‘You become what you behold!’

Jesus poster
He asks, ‘Do you want to become holy? Do you want to become new; so that you see like Jesus, think like Jesus, feel like Jesus, love like Jesus, care like Jesus, and judge like Jesus?’ If you do, there is an agenda to follow: Watch Jesus; a lot!’