Lord Jesus, let the word and the way of the cross become our hearts’ dearest delight. Amen.
Luke 14, 25-33. And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them. 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.
We are not to consult flesh and blood when the Lord calls us to be his disciples; neither are we to let others, — parents, kindred, and friends, — make the calculation for us; but we shall take counsel with God, praying to him in simple faith, and meditating on his word. Then we choose “that good part.” — In our text we hear that the Lord Jesus does not deceive any with promises of ease and comfort in this world. It is his will that all shall, to begin with, experience the cross and afflictions of their discipleship. The preacher who tries to attract his hearers by presenting to them the glory of God’s kingdom, but who makes no mention of self-denial and tribulations, is not a true servant of the gospel. For men mind the earthly things, and take all things in a carnal sense, unless the glory of the kingdom is presented to them in the light of the cross. The good things which our Lord Jesus gives us are spiritual and eternal. In order that we may receive them, our mind must be estranged from the world; and in order that we may be able to enjoy them, our self-will and carnal lusts must die. Here we must renounce all things, carry the cross, follow after Christ, nay, give life itself; — and it is good for us to know this from the very start, in order that we may not begin our Christian life with foolish dreams concerning a bed of roses, and take fright when we feel the thorns.
Many wish to inherit glory with Jesus; but few are willing to follow him on the way of the cross. If it in truth is your purpose to be his disciple, you must be prepared to suffer, and to practice self-denial, as long as you remain on this earth. Not until you are in the world beyond shall you receive your heritage of glory. But bear in mind that under the cross you walk with Jesus; there only can you be in his company, and thus only can you become like unto him. Bear your cross, then, in the strength of the Lord 1 As we shall hear his word concerning self-denial, cross, and death, so likewise shall we hear his word concerning grace and strength from the Lord. And if we give heed to the word of the cross of Christ, we hear at the same time the word of his power. — The heaviest cross is carried, not by those who really hear the word of the cross, but by the slothful man, who says: “There is a lion without; I shall be slain in the streets.” (Proverbs 22. 13).
Lord Jesus, draw us after thee. Grant that we may become acquainted with thy suffering in our own flesh; give us grace to rejoice in our tribulations, to glory in them, and praise thee for them. Do not allow us to be frightened away by the law of self-denial, nor by the cross which must be borne by thy holy brotherhood; but give us courage and strength out of thy love, which is stronger than death. Amen.
Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave, and follow thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my all shalt be.
Perish every fond ambition,
All I’ve sought, or hoped, or known;
Yet how rich is my condition!
God and heaven are still my own.