How NOT to Win Friends and Influence People! {Luke 14}

12:00 AM

By Sue Desmarais

I find that often some of the meaning of a passage can be lost over 2000 years. Take this passage for example;

“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 does not take up his cross, and follow me, cannot be my disciple.’” Luke 14:25-27 (emphasis mine)

Let’s examine this picture before us… A “great multitude”, too many to count, were following after Jesus and He turns and says to the crowd, “Come, join Me and be My disciple and your life will be glorious from this point on!!”

OK, those weren’t quite His words, but some would like to believe they were today! Just think how Jesus’ words actually impacted this great multitude!! The cross was the most horrible, heinous and hated form of punishment reserved for only the very worst criminals, but you and I could probably imagine that the corrupt Roman officials probably liked to use it from time to time to set an example for the Jewish citizens at the time; to keep them in check sort of speak, for thousands of Jews were crucified during that time and not all could have been for murders. Therefore, can you imagine how repulsive Jesus’ words must have been to this multitude pressing in to see and hear Jesus?

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and even his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
And whosoever does not take up his cross, and follow me, cannot be my disciple.

I imagine a collective gasp of horror could be heard at that moment especially coming from His own disciples, for yes, Jesus had said the same to them in so many words a few chapters back (Luke 9:23), but clearly Jesus must have known this was no way to make converts and influence people!! Surely not! Could you just imagine how this must have thinned the size of the crowd? Just how many do you think were still following after Him then?

Only, Jesus did know the impact His words would have, for He goes on to list several examples where it’s feasible to count the cost before proceeding further. Choosing to follow Jesus will be hard! All will face some sort of persecution; some will loose friends, loved ones, even businesses and some would loose their lives. To say that life would be wonderful the moment you give your life to Jesus would be a lie! Therefore, we too would be wise to follow Jesus’ example here, for too many have bought into a lie, and later fall away when the journey becomes difficult.

Those who choose to follow in spite of the possible hardships must after all, “…deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow” Him (9:23). Which simply means; we must surrender all (our rights, wants, desires etc,) placing Him first and foremost in our lives and pick up our cross (our mission and reason we’re here) and follow Him each day.

Being a disciple of Jesus, or a Christian, is more than learning about him; it includes following His leading. The disciples had already “left everything” to follow Him, and the Lord had promised them “a hundred times as much” blessing in return (Mark 10:28-30). Jesus also promised that they would have trials in this world (John 16:33). But He also promised He would never leave nor forsake them and assured them that He had already overcome the world!

The Christian life is not an easier life, but the joy often times outweighs the hardships. We fix our eyes on Jesus, who “for the joy set before him . . . endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

God has set His followers free from the bondage of sin and through the Holy Spirit; we receive wisdom and understanding on how to go forward, encouragement, and the ability to persevere. And we trust that our “present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed” (Romans 8:18).

There is so much more I’d like to say, but let me close with just a bit of a personal note:

Psalm 1 begins,
“Blessed is the one

    who does not walk in step with the wicked
 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.”- Psalm 1:1-3

My husband and I began following Jesus together after we had been married for more than five years and our children were still young. That was over thirty years ago and I can honestly say, our lives haven’t always been easy, but God has definitely blessed us! When asked, I like to say that our marriage is as good as two sinners can get, for I can’t imagine a marriage being any better, though the Lord often enjoys proving me wrong. We’re also blessed with a wonderful close-knit family that also follows Jesus.

I know that had we not chosen to follow Jesus back then we would not be experiencing the joys we do today! I have been blessed far beyond my wildest dreams! (Eph 3:20) There is nothing more I seek or desire in this life that I haven’t already been given! Therefore, should God call me home today I am good to go! But I need to ask, are you?

There were many, I imagine, that turned away and stopped following Jesus that day, but I’m confident that those who chose to remain and follow Him never regretted their decision!

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