Dicipleship: Blessing and Sacrifice

What a tremendous blessing it is to be a part of the Kingdom of God! That was the observation of one who ate with Jesus and heard His teaching. Certainly He spoke the truth about being a disciple, but Jesus then added some other important considerations about discipleship.

The occasion was a supper in the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to which Jesus had been invited (Lk. 14:1ff). As Jesus watched the other guests selecting places around the table, He told a parable which mildly rebuked their preoccupation with honor and status. Greater honor was associated with certain places at the table, generally the ones closest to the host of the supper. In His parable, Jesus suggested that guests should purposefully not choose the best seats lest they lose their seats to another guest whom the host esteemed more.

The atmosphere at the supper may have been a little tense after the parable. Actually, Jesus had already healed a man as He was arriving at the Sabbath supper, and act that had surely scandalized some of the lawyers and Pharisees present. As if things were not already uncomfortable enough, Jesus told this parable and then advised his host to invite the poor, maimed, lame and blind to future suppers because they could not repay him with reciprocal invitations, but he would instead be blessed by God (Lk. 14:12-14)!

As if inspired by this thought or perhaps simply to break the icy quiet which may have fallen upon the supper, someone exclaimed that it would be a blessing for all who “ate bread” in the kingdom of heaven. To eat bread in the kingdom is probably a figurative way of referring to the spiritual blessings which are now available in Christ Jesus.

Jesus responded to this remark with another parable, but the purpose of this second story was not to emphasize the blessings which adhere to a relationship with God. Jesus chose instead to make the point that not all who were invited to enjoy these blessings appreciated their value. In His parable, Jesus told of those who were invited to a great supper. When, however, the supper was ready, the prospective guests sent notice that they would not be attending the meal, giving excuses that were patently ridiculous and that demonstrated the low esteem they placed upon the invitation!

Maybe He left this supper later or perhaps even on another occasion altogether, Jesus made further observations about discipleship (Lk. 14:25). Even among those who can appreciate the value of the spiritual blessings in Christ (i.e., those who want to attend this spiritual supper), not all are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to be a disciple. Some will not put God ahead of their families (vs. 26) or even ahead of their own desires (vs. 27). Jesus affirmed that such people cannot be His disciples. Discipleship is an all or none proposition; there are no “kind of” disciples. But what tremendous blessings!