“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 carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? …
So, then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions” Luke 14:26-28, 33
Last Friday, our family attended a well-done production reflecting Christ’s last week on earth. We’d never been before, and found ourselves in line with hundreds of people (a good sign, I reflected!) winding through the church parking lot on a surprisingly hot day. Everyone was fidgety and a bit sweaty by the time we crossed a small wooden bridge, where a shaggy donkey awaited in a makeshift wooden pen, obligingly nodding so the many young ones in the crowd could rub his nose and pat his ridiculously long ears.
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey; a king bearing peace, cheered on by adoring crowds.
A week later, of course, we know the crowds that gathered shouted something much different; requiring His blood at Herod’s hand and asking that blood be applied to themselves and their children. I wonder how many had any idea what they were saying? Clarity grew over time, of course, as first the disciples reported Him risen from the dead, then hundreds more claimed to have seen Him return to heaven before their eyes, and of course after thousands heard their own tongues from the mouths of Jewish men fresh from the upper room. This remarkable Man had defeated sin and death. Who wouldn’t want to follow Him?
So many of us do. We recognize the truthfulness of the Easter story, know the depth of our own sin and depravity, understand our need of a Savior. We gratefully lay our weights at His feet, rise free and redeemed.
And then, we have our own towns to ride into.
We have families and communities, churches and workplaces. We expect to ride triumphant–and maybe even do, for a season. But at some point, the realities of a broken world set in. We face challenges, personal conflicts, health issues. We face disappointments and we disappoint. We are misunderstood. We are surprised to find ourselves still facing the same difficulties, even many years into our Christian lives.
When our wills are crossed, we find that though we’ve laid those lives at the foot of the cross, we are much more alive than we expected.
Lately, I’ve had to remind myself of Jesus’ words here. He told us to expect to have to lay aside things in our lives which we are tempted to idolize: our relationships with others, our love of self, our desire for comfort, and all our possessions. I don’t know about you, but that leaves me pretty bare!
Can we still say we desire to be His disciples when we consider the all-encompassing nature of this required laying down? Salvation is free, but it will cost us everything. We receive the benefits He longs for us to experience in proportion to the extent to which we embrace His commands to lay down everything we hold dear.
We cannot inspire our children with what we don’t know. And we can’t know what we haven’t experienced, and we can’t experience what we aren’t willing to do.
Today, will we decide to be the ones to go first in our families? Will we search our hearts for whatever we might be holding on to, whatever might be keeping us from being devoted disciples? Will we trust this humble King, the One riding on the floppy-eared donkey, the One who lived this example for us of laying it all down?
Our children are watching.