In Luke 14:25–35, Jesus laid out the tests and requirements of discipleship. Jesus saw a large crowd gathering. He knew that these people believed and accepted His message in principle. Prior to this point, Jesus had shown how the message of the gospel was for everyone. He had exposed the Pharisees as the religious hypocrites that they were. As a result, He had become enormously popular. Now He wanted to weed out those who were following Him for the wrong reasons.
Some wanted to be dazzled by Jesus’ miracles, while others came looking for a free meal. A few even hoped that He would overthrow Rome and establish God’s kingdom. So Jesus turned to the multitude and preached a sermon that deliberately thinned out the ranks.
Jesus seeks quality over quantity
Jesus makes it clear that when it comes to personal discipleship, He is more interested in quality than quantity. The words He spoke that day are perhaps the most solemn and searching words that ever fell from His lips.
Why would Jesus say such things to all those people who followed Him? It seems that He is intentionally trying to get rid of them. In a sense, He is trying to get rid of at least some of them.
A similar account is found in Judges 7:1–22. There God wanted to give His servant Gideon a victory in battle against the Midianites. But the Lord wanted the glory for the victory. So, through a series of tests, God whittled down Gideon’s original army of 32,000 to 300. God knew that He could do more with 300 alert, committed men than He could with 32,000 half-hearted ones.
Three times in the course of this message in Luke 14, Jesus used the phrase, “cannot be my disciple.” In other words, Jesus was laying out some absolute requirements for discipleship.