Jesus shows us how to make disciples. We should walk in Jesus’ steps and seek to make disciples in the same way he made them. He called the multitude to him (Luke 14:25) and taught them what decisions they must make in order to become a disciple. He gave the rules that one must follow in order to be accepted as a disciple.
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26-33)
We may not understand these commands concerning becoming a disciple, but we should accept his words without fail. He says if a man does not qualify in certain specific ways, “he cannot be my disciple.” Jesus will not accept just anyone who desires to be a disciple. They must meet his qualifications. The preacher may accept them, but Jesus testifies that he will not accept them. He told the multitude three times that they could not be his disciples unless they qualified. He lists at least three major qualifications that are required before he would receive a man as his disciple. Jesus testified: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber” (John 10:1). We must become his disciple his way or we will not be accepted.
The first qualification is to hate our father, mother, etc. and our own life (Lk 14:26). This is surely a negative command, but we must do it. The subject is Master and disciple. The disciple can only have one master. We can not be like two masters at the same time. Jesus said that when it comes to choosing masters: “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other” (Luke 16:13). Neither his father, nor mother, nor sister nor anyone else can be his master if Jesus is his only master. In that sense we turn away from all other would-be masters and choose Jesus as our one Master. If we refuse to do that, he will not receive us. If we determine to follow the one shepherd and flee from all others (John 10:5), he will accept us. We can be like one masters.
A second qualification contains two commands. First we must bear our cross (Luke 14:27). Some would define a cross as only suffering. In New Testament times a cross was never only suffering. A cross was death. If we pick up our cross we must pick it up in order to die. This cross is not the initial crucifixion we have before burial with Christ. We are told that we have an initial crucifixion before we can be baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3-6). The initial crucifixion with Christ takes place before we are baptized with him. This old man must be crucified, put to death, before he is buried. We don’t bury living beings. We must put off the old man with his sins. This is paramount to cutting off of the old man in New Testament circumcision:
In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. (Col. 2:11-12)
However, the cross required in Luke 14:27 is the same cross that must be taken up after one is baptized into Christ. This is the cross that must be taken up daily (Luke 9:23). This cross is also unto death. He commands us to “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5). These ‘members’ must be put to death little by little in a painful crucifixion-like death that requires much suffering. This pain is further described in our Father’s chastening us in purging out our sins. He describes this chastening as something that is grievous which results in the peaceable fruit of righteousness in his children. “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Heb. 12:11). It is painful to do, but if we get rid of our pride there is room for the humility of Christ. Putting off all of our old man, day by day, makes room for the love of Christ in our hearts. If we are not willing to take up this cross daily to mortify (crucify) the members of the old man, Jesus will not receive us. Only if we have that mind is there hope that we can be like him.
A second positive command in Luke 14:27 is to follow Christ. Jesus ran the race ahead of us. He is the author and the finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:1-3). We follow Christ by following in his steps (1 Pet. 2:21). Jesus learned to obey (Heb. 5:8). Jesus was not born with all wisdom but “ . . . grew in wisdom and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). “in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren . . .” (Heb. 2:17) and thus had to grow in the same way his brethren grew. “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered He learned obedience by suffering” (Heb. 5:8). We need to follow in his steps in learning obedience in the same way. Only if we follow in the steps of Christ, can we be like him. Why should Jesus accept a man as his disciple if he has no desire to fulfill the purpose of becoming a disciple? We must be determined to follow him to be like him (Lk 6:40) so that he will accept us as his disciple (Luke 14:27).