Luke 14: Who Can Be a Disciple? Who Will Be a Disciple?

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Reading: Luke 14

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.
"So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear." (Luke 14:25-27, 33-35)

Reflecting and Thinking
We have already noted that Luke 9-18 includes many stories unique to Luke's Gospel. An interesting way to analyze these stories is to note who is present and to whom Jesus is speaking. The groups specifically mentioned are most often his disciples, the crowd, or the Pharisees, and the text usually has Jesus' teachings directed at one (or more) of these groups. The following list illustrates this.

  • 11:1, disciples; 11:14, crowd; 11:29, crowd; 11:37, Pharisees
  • 12:1, disciples; 12:13, crowd; 12:22, disciples; 12:54, crowd
  • 13:1, crowd/people; 13:31, Pharisees
  • 14:1, Pharisee/banquet guests; 14:25, crowd
  • 15:1, Pharisees; 16:1, disciples; 16:14, Pharisees; 17:1, disciples
    The teachings of Luke 14 should be considered with the audience in view. The cost of discipleship teachings are spoken to the crowds. While many were willing to be "group followers", Jesus describes what it means to be a committed individual disciple. There is no value in piling up huge stores of tasteless salt. One cannot find a good use for it, and it must ultimately be discarded. Do you get the point? ("He who has ears to hear, let him hear.")

    On a scale of 1-10, how well do you think Christians today are able to hear and apply these teachings of Jesus? What challenges do we face in accurately hearing these words? What do you think of the idea that some churches may be piling up lots of useless "unsalty salt"? What personal challenge do you feel in the statement that saltiness cannot be restored? What commentary does this provide on what the church should consider its priorities?

    Heavenly Father, on some days, we fear that our version of discipleship is too insipid to make much difference in our world. Help us to hear afresh today the words of Jesus, and to renew our commitment to apply these words in our lives. Increase our love for your word, and our desire to do your will. Forgive us when we are less than committed, and help us that we never lose our saltiness. In the name of Jesus who is the Christ, Amen.

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    Last updated June 3, 2011