In previous blogs I have covered the top ten teachings according to the frequency with which Christ taught (seen on page 133 of the download ‘What on earth have we done with the teachings of Jesus’). Continuing now with Christ’s additional teachings. The next of which is ‘Forsake all’.
Luke 14:33 – whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
One of the most challenging commands
This has got to be one of the most challenging commands of Jesus. I have heard many argue it away and diminish it’s meaning, but the associated verses further augment it. If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:26. Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life. Luke 18:29-30.
The tendency is to gloss over these words. Surely Jesus didn’t really mean this?..
Trouble in the flesh
The church of today elevates the status of marriage and family. Single people are constantly under pressure to get married and settle down. But Paul said that in marriage we have ‘trouble in the flesh’. He goes onto say – I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world. 1 Cor 7:32
I have never heard this taught in the church of today. Instead the pressure is on to find a partner, have children, get a good job, have a good pension plan etc. In other words fall into the world’s pattern for success. Where is this in the teachings of Jesus? I cannot find it. As a result many, I believe, shipwreck their true calling.
Seriously hate his family? How can this be as in another verse Jesus says to love others as ourselves? Many exponents of the Bible say that Jesus meant ‘hate them’ in comparison to our ‘love for Him’. But we must also hate anything that holds us back from forsaking all and following after Him.
Jesus said Himself that He came to bring a sword and it will bring division. Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. Matthew 10:34. Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Luke 12:51.
The sword will divide
The sword will divide those who are truly for Jesus and those who are against. We are taught to love the Lord your God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength Mark 12:30.
How do we not know that in truly following the Lord we may be an example to our families and in so doing also lead them to Him? It takes a willingness to entrust our families to Jesus, the giving up of our lives and the following after Him wherever He leads.
Henry says – They must be willing to quit that which was very dear, and therefore must come to him thoroughly weaned from all their creature-comforts. A man cannot be Christ’s disciple but he must hate father, and mother, and his own life. He is not sincere, unless he loves Christ better than anything in this world. If by our parting with it we are put into a better capacity of serving Christ, then we must part.
We must give Christ the preference
Abraham parted with his own country, and Moses from Pharaoh’s court. Every good man loves his relations. Yet, if he be a disciple of Christ, he must comparatively hate them, must love them far less than Christ. Not that their persons must be in any degree hated, but our comfort and satisfaction in them must be lost and swallowed up in our love to Christ. When our duty to our parents comes in competition with our evident duty to Christ, we must give Christ the preference.
If we must either deny Christ or be banished from our families and relations (as many of the early Christians were and those from other faiths still are), we must rather lose their association than His favour. Every man loves his own life and seeks to preserve it. But we cannot be Christ’s disciples if we do not love Him better than our own lives.
This hard saying made easy
We have to rather have our lives embittered by cruel bondage, and taken away by cruel deaths, than to dishonour Christ, or depart from any of His truths and ways. The experience of the pleasures of the spiritual life, and the believing hopes and prospects of eternal life, will make this hard saying easy.
When tribulation and persecution arise because of the Word, then chiefly the trial is, whether we love Christ or our lives better. Yet even in the days of peace this matter is sometimes brought to trial. Those that decline the service of Christ, and opportunities of speaking about Him, for fear of rejection from a relation or friend can give cause to suspect that they love him better than Christ.
His grace can work upon the soul
His grace can work upon the soul, so as to alter the bias of it. For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Phil 2:13.
Whatever we have left, or laid out, for Christ, it shall without fail be abundantly made up to us in this world and that to come. No man has left the comfort of his home or relations for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, in the graces and comforts of God’s Spirit. They shall receive the pleasures of communion with God and of a good conscience, advantages which will abundantly counteract all their loses. Yet that is not all; in the world to come they shall receive life everlasting.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Forsake all In the shallow water I can see you stand. Can you not see My beckoning hand? I am before you now In the centre of the lake My arms, my feet You cannot mistake. Will you forsake all And join me? You’ll need faith, my child For your eyes cannot see The beauty that lies before you Of My promise land; But wait, it’s all of you That I demand. So far you have given little; There is so much more. Will you seek the safety Of the shore? Or will you step out To touch the heights And sample all My heavenly delights? By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father, Forgive me for preserving my life and preferring others above You. Work in me to will and to do according to Your good pleasure – that I would continually put You first before all – whatever the consequences. That I would gladly count all else a loss compared with knowing You. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.