Tag Archives: Cross

Being A Disciple – Three Challenges For You!

"If anyone would come after me (be a disciple), he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." - Luke 9:23-24
“If anyone would come after me (be a disciple), he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” – Luke 9:23-24

Devotional by Jeremy Ciaramella

Luke 14:25-35
25Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26″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. 27And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28″Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

31″Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

34″Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

  • Three times in this little span of scripture jesus says either you do this or that, or you “cannot be my disciple.
    • In verses 26, 27, 33 – Jesus was “plain-talking” – the only way to not understand Jesus at this point is to NOT WANT to understand him.
  • Jesus was not into having a huge church – he was out to have a sold-out church of only true disciples.  At the end of Jesus’ three-year ministry of preaching, miracles, resurrections and his own resurrection the sum of his followers was 120! (cf. Acts 1:15)
  • Jesus preached to “thin” the crowd, not to “win” the crowd.  Jesus wants real 100% commitment – not just numbers.  What do I want?  Do I think “majority rules” – exchanging quantity and hype for quality and depth?  Do I “negotiate” commitment and think that somehow I am representing Jesus?  Jesus did not negotiate.

Luke 14:26-27
26″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. 27And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

1st Challenge to Being A Disciple – Love Jesus More Than Any Other Relationship.

  • Love me so much more than your father, mother, brother, sister, wife, children and your self – or you “cannot be my disciple.”
  • These people are the most important and influential people in our lives.
  • The true disciple says to themselves “I will do what Jesus wants me to do, even if my family opposes it, even if it upsets my wife and disappoints my children, and does not directly benefit me!”  It’s the disciple that does not make it to Wednesday night dinners sometimes because they are at a midweek instead. (Mother, Father, Brother, Sister)  It’s the disciple that does not put their child in a sports program that will damage their ability to go to church (wife and children).  It’s the disciple that passes up a promotion because they know it will lead to them cutting corners on Christ. (self!)
  • How are you taking a stand for God?  Would he say that you love him first above all?  Who really has the most pull on your allegiance?  What or who really sets and defines your agenda?  Jesus’ agenda was simple, “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (cf. Matthew 6:33) and “to seek and save what was lost.” (cf. Luke 19:10)  Is your agenda really the same?  Or is it seek first our physical family and then his righteousness?  Jesus must be above all or you “cannot be [his] disciple.
  • Realize you will offend some family members because their agenda for you is secondary to the Kingdom of God. They will have differing opinions about life and doctrine.  They’ll have their own gauge of what is healthy commitment and devotion.  Some family members will be supportive.  The thing is, Jesus warns those who are his disciples about this in several places:

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matt 10:21-22)
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
37 “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (Matt 10:34-38; the same teaching is in Luke 12:51-55)

    • The concept of being a disciple was known throughout that era. If you wanted to be a learned person – you would have to sit under another more learned person. This practice was common both in Jewish and Hellenistic world.  The term “disciple,” simply signified that you were under a particular teacher. In order to be a “disciple” in any sense, you must be a learner.
    • Paul was “under” Gamaliel as his disciple in his training in Judaism (cf. Acts 22:3).
    • A disciple’s heart is always willing to learn.  A disciple does not seek to do it “their way,” they want to better understand how to do it “God’s way.” If you really want to do it God’s way then you seek the scriptures on the matter and seek advice from godly men and women.
    • “If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” – Matt 15:14
    • “The spiritual man makes judgments about all things…” – 1 Cor 2:15
    • How do you discern if someone is “spiritual?”  If they can “see” spiritually?  Are they in the light? (1 Peter 2:9) and what is their life and doctrine like? (1 Tim 4:16).  Maturity is not discerned by age, it is discerned by example.

2nd Challenge – “Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me…cannot be my disciple.”

  • You must be willing to suffer and carry the burden of “the cross.”  We must bear the pain of persecution in order to follow Jesus, living in constant and deep allegiance to him as Lord AND savior.
  • Worship of men is evidenced by FEAR.  Worship of GOD is evidenced by LOVE. (cf. 1 John 4:16)  Which are you showing the Father and your neighbor?
  • If you fear the truth you fear Jesus, because Jesus is the truth.  Do you fear standing for Christ’s teachings on salvation, true repentance, true discipleship and true baptism for the forgiveness of sins?  What you fear “carrying the cross.”
    • If you preached the truth in the 1st century – most people hated you, some could care less, and a few would love you.  The SAME is true in the 21st century!  It is satanic to “widen the road,” to accept disobedience and rebellion from those claiming to be disciples or to make excuses for half-heartedness/lukewarmness.
    • Being sentimental is the most destructive thing you could ever do to your faith and those around you.  We confuse putting “the cross” of conflict and persecution down with being “kind” or “relatable.”  Being sentimental is a arsenic-laden honey, that weakens true faith and real love and then eventually kills for certain.  If you are sentimental on who is lost and saved, on what a disciple truly is, on what the bible teaches about relationships and heart, on wholehearted obedience to Jesus – it is only a matter of time before you die spiritually.  This is because you’ll get more and more bitter about taking a stand on what is true doctrine and the expectation of every disciple to make disciples by teaching it.  The sad thing, you won’t even realize it as the sentimental person finds excuses as to why they should not bother bringing these things up.
  • There is no “cross” in being sentimental.
  • We get persecuted as a church because we teach unapologetically the bible’s standards on discipleship, repentance, and conversion.  Have faith, confess AND repent of all your sins, believe and confess that Jesus Christ is LORD, and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins. (cf. Heb 11:6, James 5:16, Romans 10:9-13/Acts 22:14, Acts 2:38-41)
  • You can’t possibly understand the message of the Kingdom and the call to the cross if you do not confess your sins and repent of them! (cf. Matthew 13:11,14-15)
  • I remember hearing the message but because I was so full of myself and pride I did not understand the bible.  The word could be preached plainly to you – but if you do not confess and repent, there will be no reason for you to carry the cross!  Why?  No confession, no repenting, no grace.  No grace, no motivation.  When we have stopped confessing sins and repenting our hearts and minds are DULLED to the Kingdom of God.  Missing the feast because we refuse to be humble and open up and deal with our hearts.  That is why you can show up to church, hear the WORD preached, and still leave feeling EMPTY.  Life and doctrine must match or you will NOT save yourself OR your hearers!  (cf. 1 Timothy 4:16.)

3rd Challenge, “give up everything [you have]…” or you “cannot be my disciple.”

Luke 14:28-30
28″Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

  • Concept – it is stupid to start something and not finish it.
  • How much more so is someone who does not take the time and count the cost of what it takes to be a disciple!

Luke 14:31-33
31″Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

  • The clear risk of conflict here is that the bigger clump of armies would win.
  • King with 20,000 is king Jesus. The king with 10,000 is you.
  • Jesus is in effect saying “count the cost” and then “consider the alternatives. Life or death. Chose.” Amen – Jesus was the master motivator. And what is the choice?  Wow – give up EVERYTHING – or there is NO PEACE.  You and Jesus are at odds.
  • Jesus – listen, the only way is to give up everything.
    • Are you making time for discipling times?   You have a partner but you’re not meeting?  Are you early to meetings of the body and do you stay late?
    • Are you having bible talks but not bringing anyone to them?  When was the last time you had a friend at church?  Shared your faith?  Led a bible study?
    • Jesus wants us to sit down and COUNT the COST of being a disciple.

Three things Jesus taught here that we need to go after or we “cannot be [his] disciple” boil down to our priorities and wholeheartedness.  We must count the cost (“everything”) and consider the alternatives – or we cannot be his disciple.  We must carry our cross and follow him every day.  There will be conflict.  There will be persecution, sometimes even from our own family.  It’s all a part of the cross/cost.  We must not be sentimental on who is lost and saved, or we cannot be his disciple.  We have to make Jesus the priority relationship in our life, his agenda and heart is our priority – or we cannot be his disciple.

Jesus preached to thin the crowd and win those who are truly seeking him with all their heart. (cf. John 6:60-66).  Jesus was a radical, heavily persecuted, hated so vehemently his detractors successfully had him brutally beaten and crucified.  As his disciple, his student, his follower, should we think we are greater than him and will avoid the conflict?

Matt 10:24-31
24 “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!
26 “So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Jeremy Ciaramella - Evangelist, Phoenix International Christian Church (phxicc.org)
Jeremy Ciaramella – Evangelist, Phoenix International Christian Church (phxicc.org)