Luke 14:25-35: Marks of a True Disciple
The word ‘Nominal’ in nominalism or nominal Christianity means, in name only. It comes from the Latin word nomen which means name. One of the biggest hindrances to Christianity has been nominal Christianity, or cultural Christianity. So many have turned away from Christianity and viewing it as credible because of the hypocrisy of those who call themselves Christians who are only Christian in name. So called Christian countries have engaged in war; colonized other countries; built economies on the backs of slaves, and many other atrocities as so called Christians. Even today many social ills are laid at the feet of so called Christians. Today we are facing anti-smacking laws not because of those diligent and loving parents who are true believers who have applied the rod in love, but because of so called Christians who have vented their anger and abused their kids. We are seeing the biblical pattern of complementarianism in the church and the home eradicated under a barrage of feminism and egalitarianism not because of those real Christian husbands and fathers who used their leadership to serve, but because of the so called Christians who abused this God given institution to serve their chauvinism. Today there are forms of cultural Christianity that are politically violent, that are outwardly abusive towards homosexuals, confuse patriotism with Christianity, who lean on the arm of intimidation and protest not Word and Spirit. For as long as Christianity has been around there have been true disciples and nominal disciples, disciples in name.
Today we carry on in Luke 14 looking at 25-35. Jesus has been criticising the false religion of the Jews as loveless, proud and selfish. Despite the very straight message that Jesus is giving there is still a lot of buzz around Christ, there are still huge crowds following Him. V15, ‘Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them.’ Some will be there because they need a healing, others will be there because they want to see a healing, some will be there because their friends are there, some might like the fact that He is so critical of the religious leaders who they also do not like, some might be there to hear the teaching and are genuine seekers. Jesus knows that not everyone in the crowd is a disciple despite the fact that they are following Him around. Jesus regularly thinned the crowds by talking about His identity John 6:41, ‘So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” Forcing them to reckon with His divinity. He also thinned the crowds talking about the way of salvation, john 6:51-52, ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus knew that the disciples who were following Him had a hard time with this, 6:60-61, ‘When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?’ as a result the crowds were thinned and many so called disciples, nominal disciples turned away, v66, ‘After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.’ But Jesus not only thinned the crowds by talking about His identity and the way of salvation, He also thinned the crowds by talking about the requirements of becoming one of His disciples. Luke 14:25-35 is just such a passage where Jesus seeks to separate the wheat from the chaff, the true from the nominal by outlining what is required in becoming His disciples.
The bottom line that Christ stresses is that in order to become a disciple of Christ it will cost everything; that He is to become the unchallenged Lord of your life sharing your heart with no one and nothing else. He is to be supreme in your life. Christ tells us that there is only one type of disciple the sold out type. He has no place for nominal disciples. As we look at Christ’s requirements to become a disciple we will look at them under three headings, hating relations, carrying crosses, and renouncing all.