To read the texts click on the texts: Phil 2:12-18; Lk 14:25-33
The sayings in these verses are addressed to the large crowds that are following Jesus. Those who wish to follow are asked to consider the cost of that following and to check whether they have it in them to persevere. Three conditions are laid down to following. The first (14:26) is renouncing family ties. This of course does not mean hating family, but means not letting anyone including family come in the way of following. When it comes to a matter of choice, following Jesus must take precedence over family ties.
The second condition (14:27) is carrying one’s cross. While in Luke 9:23 the challenge is to “take up” one’s cross, here it is to carry it. This means that the disciple who intends to follow Jesus must be prepared to face the same fate as Jesus, which will include rejection, ignominy and even death.
Before the third condition of giving up possessions (14:33), two parables are told to illustrate the folly of failing to consider what following would entail. These parables are found only in Luke’s Gospel. The first (14:28-30) is about a man who intends to build a tower, but would not do so until he has first counted the cost of doing so. This calculation is done not after he has begun the work, but before he begins it, in order to ensure that he can finish what he has begun. If he does not do, he will be ridiculed. The second parable (14:31-32) is about a king who before he can go to war with another king would first ensure that he has enough soldiers and strength to resist the other. If he realises that he does not have enough, prudence will demand that he not start the war, but instead sue for peace. In the same way anyone who wishes to be a disciple must first count the cost and only on finding that he/she has the strength to persevere, must dare to follow.
The third condition (14:33) is that of giving up possessions or total renunciation. This means that nothing or no one can be allowed to come in the way of following Jesus on mission. If one allows oneself to be restrained by things or persons, one cannot be a disciple in the true sense of the word.
We can come up with numerous excuses why following Jesus today is not easy. However, no matter what they might be, they will still remain excuses. If we are determined to follow and are convinced of his call, excuses cease and following begins.