A study from Luke 14:26-33
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, s
aying, 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.
Ou Dunatai (Vs. 26, 27, 33) ου δυναται
Ou means “not.” Dunatai means “to be able or possible: - be able, can (do, + -not), could, may, might, be possible, be of power.”
Not possible. Can not. Not able.
I was struck by the repeated instance of this same phrase three times in this passage. Just one simple little word in English, “cannot,” but it carries with it such a vast wealth of meaning.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” the Bible says. So where is this word “can’t” coming from? Jesus Himself is saying it. Is there any such thing as the word “can’t” in a Christian’s vocabulary?
“Cannot be my disciple.” Not able to be a disciple of Jesus. Not possible.
“All things are possible to him that believeth.” “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
The only way to reconcile these two facts from Scripture is to divide the world into the two categories that the Bible divides us into: In Christ or Not In Christ. The person who is in Christ is enabled by divine grace to do all things. The person who is not in Christ is under divine judgement and unable to do anything to please God.
So Jesus’s words here reveal to us that it is not possible to be in Christ as long as we are holding on to the things of the world (family, possessions, our own selves, and all that we have). There is not such a thing as a Christian who is holding on to the things of the world and a “better” Christian who has surrendered all those things. According to Scripture, it is impossible for a man to be Christ’s disciple until he denies himself and surrenders everything to the lordship of Christ.
Proton (vs. 28, 31) πρωτον
Proton in Greek means “firstly (in time, place, order, or importance): - before, at the beginning, chiefly, (at, at the) first (of all).”
Think of our English word proton. It came from this Greek word. We cannot see an atom, and we think of it as the smallest building block there is for all of the elements of the world, but a proton is even smaller. Atoms are made of protons, neutrons, and electrons. So a proton is a building block for the smallest building block.
Take that concept and apply it to this verse. When Jesus says “first” here, he means backing up all the way to the beginning of the beginning. Sit down FIRST and count the cost. It’s mockery, it’s death, to begin to act like Jesus’s disciple and then refuse to give Him everything.
The Builder and the Warrior
“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.”
Who in the world would expose themselves to this kind of mockery?
“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.”
Who in the world would expose themselves to this kind of danger?
How do these two examples relate to the point of the passage?
The builder and the warrior are analogous to a man who tries to follow Jesus without giving everything up.
Jesus says, “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”
Without first (proton) forsaking all that you have, you cannot (ou dunatai) be Christ’s disciple.
---If you are not Christ’s disciple, you are not In Christ.
---If you are not In Christ, you have none of the righteousness of Christ.
---If you have none of the righteousness of Christ, you must stand before God in your own righteousness, which is like filthy rags.
---If you stand before God dressed in your own righteousness, you will be exposed to mockery (see the builder) and death (see the warrior).
- Mockery, because everyone will see that you started a foundation called “Disciple of Christ” in your life, intending to build a tower of righteousness, but you ran out of supplies and your tower remained unfinished, whereas if you had taken Christ’s righteousness, it would have been enough to create a perfect and complete tower.
- Death, because God’s wrath is poised against you, and your own righteousness provides you an insufficient defense to protect yourself from being crushed by its blow.
In order to be Christ's disciple, you must forsake all that you have. Your own life, your own righteousness, your own treasured possessions. Retain possession, and renounce discipleship. Let go, and become worthy of Christ and be found "In Him," not having your own righteousness, but His. An interesting dilemma. All or nothing. Take Him, and forsake everything, and end up finding everything in the long run, or seek to retain everything, and leave Him, and end up losing everything in the long run.
I choose Him.