Platt: "Give up everything you have, carry a cross, and hate your family"...sounds a lot different than "Admit, believe, confess, and pray a prayer after me."
“At the end of Luke 9, we find a story about three men who approached Jesus, eager to follow him. In surprising fashion, though, Jesus seems to have tried to talk them out of doing so. The first guy said, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus responded, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." In other words, Jesus told this man that he could expect homelessness on the journey ahead. Followers of Christ are not guaranteed that even their basic need of shelter will be met.
“The second man told Jesus that his father had just died. The man wanted to go back, bury his father, and then follow Jesus. Jesus replied, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
“I remember distinctly the moment when my own dad died unexpectedly of a heart attack. Amid the immense heaviness of the days that followed and the deep desire of my heart to honor my dad at his funeral, I cannot imagine hearing these words from Jesus: "Don't even go to your dad's funeral.There aremore important things to do."
“A third man approached Jesus and told him that he wanted to follow him, but before he did, he wanted to say good-bye to his family. Jesus wouldn't let him. He told the man, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." Plainly put, a relationship with Jesus requires total, superior, and exclusive devotion.
“Become homeless. Let someone else bury your dad. Don't even say good-bye to your family. Is it surprising that, from all we can tell in Luke 9, Jesus was successful in persuading these men not to follow him?
“…Jesus was not using a gimmick to get more followers. He was simply and boldly making it clear from the start that if you follow him, you abandon everything—your needs, your desires, even your family.
“The events of Luke 9 were not isolated incidents in the life of Jesus, either. On another occasion, when surrounded by a crowd of eager followers, Jesus turned to themand remarked, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple." Imagine hearing those words from an obscure Jewish teacher in the first century. He just lost most of us at hello.
“But then he continued: "Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." Now this is taking it to another level. Pick up an instrument of torture and follow me. This is getting plain weird… and kind of creepy. Imagine a leader coming on the scene today and inviting all who would come after him to pick up an electric chair and become his disciple. Any takers?
“As if this were not enough, Jesus finished his seeker-sensitive plea with a pull-at-your-heartstrings conclusion. "Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." Give up everything you have, carry a cross, and hate your family. This sounds a lot different than "Admit, believe, confess, and pray a prayer after me."
“And that's still not all. Consider Mark 10, another time a potential follower showed up. Here was a guy who was young, rich, intelligent, and influential. He was a prime prospect, to say the least. Not only that, but he was eager and ready to go. He came running up to Jesus, bowed at his feet, and said, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"
“If we were in Jesus' shoes, we probably would be thinking this is our chance. A simple "Pray this prayer, sign this card, bow your head, and repeat after me," and this guy is in. Then think about what a guy like this with all his influence and prestige can do. We can get him on the circuit. He can start sharing his testimony, signing books, raising money for the cause. This one is a no brainer—we have to get him in.
“Unfortunately, Jesus didn't have the personal evangelism books we have today that tell us how to draw the net and close the sale. Instead Jesus told him one thing: "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
“What was he thinking? Jesus had committed the classic blunder of letting the big fish get away. The cost was too high. Yet the kind of abandonment Jesus asked of the rich young man is at the core of Jesus' invitation throughout the Gospels. Even his simple call in Matthew 4 to his disciples—"Follow me"—contained radical implications for their lives. Jesus was calling them to abandon their comforts, all that was familiar to them and natural for them.
“He was calling them to abandon their careers. They were reorienting their entire life's work around discipleship to Jesus. Their plans and dreams were now being swallowed up in his.
Jesus was calling them to abandon their possessions. "Drop your nets and your trades as successful fishermen," he was saying in effect. Jesus was calling them to abandon their family and their friends. When James and John left their father, we see Jesus' words in Luke 14 coming alive.
“Ultimately, Jesus was calling them to abandon themselves. They were leaving certainty for uncertainty, safety for danger, self-preservation for self-denunciation. In a world that prizes promoting oneself, they were following a teacher who told them to crucify themselves. And history tells us the result. Almost all of them would lose their lives because they responded to his invitation.” – David Platt, “Radical” pp. 7-12