Tim Keller | June 4, 2000
Almost everybody says Jesus Christ was a great teacher, but when you actually begin studying Jesus’ teaching, he has a lot of sayings we can call “hard sayings.” They’re hard partly because they’re difficult to understand, but just as much, and maybe even more so, they’re hard because they’re tough to swallow, they’re hard to accept.
The hard sayings of Jesus are things that on the surface look pretty difficult and maybe even look absurd, but as you reflect upon them, you’ll find that you actually never get to the bottom. Our text today is not really about fathers and mothers, although it would appear to be so on the surface, but it’s about discipleship. It’s about what it means to exclusively follow Jesus and be his disciple. We’re going to look at these five aspects of Jesus’ discipleship: it’s not optional; it’s unpredictable; it’s deeply emotional; it’s completely positional; and it’s unconditional.
Jesus sometimes says hard things that make us think deeply, and His idea of being His disciple is one of them. When He tells us to ‘hate’ our family, He doesn’t mean to despise them, but rather to put Him first. Being a disciple means learning to understand and live out these hard teachings of Jesus, and we’re going to talk about five main points about it.
1. Being a disciple of Jesus isn’t optional
Jesus makes it clear that being His disciple isn’t just for a special group. It’s for everyone, and it means putting Him first in everything. It’s not about being a little bit Christian or a lot Christian – it’s about giving everything we have to follow Jesus. He doesn’t hide the fact that it’s going to be tough, but He tells us that’s the deal.
2. Being a disciple of Jesus is unpredictable
Jesus calls us to rethink what’s most important to us and what it really means to follow Him. He wants us to give up our own plans and even our closest relationships if they get in the way of truly knowing and accepting Him. He’s not a safe choice, but He is good, and He deserves our total commitment. He wants us to give our lives to Him fully.
3. Being a disciple of Jesus is deeply emotional
When Jesus uses the word “hate”, He’s trying to show us that we should love Him more than anything else, even more than the people we love most. Being a real follower of Jesus means having a deep emotional connection with Him, not just doing what He says. When we love God above everything else, we become free from worrying about what other people think. We grow this love through prayer.
4. Being a disciple of Jesus is completely positional
When we’re asked to carry our own cross, it means to identify with Jesus’ sacrifice and realize that His death represents our death to sin. It’s a daily commitment that reminds us who we are in Christ, asking us to serve others and forget about ourselves. It’s not about hating ourselves, but about putting our ego aside. We find our real worth and purpose in Jesus, not in what we do or have.
5. Being a disciple of Jesus is unconditional
Being a Christian means picking up your cross, which symbolizes giving up our own way and choosing to follow Jesus. This goes against the grain in our society, especially in the West, where we value personal freedom. But to truly serve Jesus, we have to obey Him completely and be ready for hardships, with no room for doing things halfway.
6. Being a disciple of Jesus is gradual
Following Jesus means slowly and painfully letting go of our old ways, which takes time and patience. It might mean putting our spiritual journey before our personal lives and relationships, which can be hard and even scary. But with God’s help, we can see the beauty, challenge, and adventure that comes with being a disciple.
February Book Offer
In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller shows us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the truth about societal ideals and our own hearts — and that there is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings and fulfill our hopes.
February Book Offer