25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, 26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate
everyone else by comparison — your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sister — yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.
28 But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? 29 Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. 30 They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’
31 Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? 32 And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. 33 So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.
34 Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? 35 Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”
This is a hard passage. The NLT wants to make it easier on us in v.26 by adding “everyone else by comparison,” but that is nowhere to be found in the original Greek. I do think some qualification is in order. Jesus used hyperbole on a number of occasions and clearly taught that the second basic command was to love your neighbor as yourself. Still, the task of coming to what this means is something you need to figure out for yourself as the Holy Spirit leads you. We’ve read enough by now that you have a good handle on what Jesus taught. Luke felt confident he could share this with us, that we would figure it out. But that starts by being confronted with the hardness of the statement.
Luke also makes a couple of small adjustments to Matthew’s text in v.27. In Matthew we receive the cross. Here we bear the cross – and the cross is our own. It is personalized and something we actively own and carry on a continuing basis. The last part there is serious – not being a disciple is always an open option. We will see this later in John 13 where Peter refuses to let Jesus wash his feet and Jesus responds by telling Peter, essentially, ‘either I do this or you’re not my disciple anymore.’ You can decide at any time that selling possessions, carrying crosses, loving enemies, ‘hating’ your own life, healing the sick, and preaching the Gospel are more than you can do. Just know that means you are choosing not to be a disciple anymore.
So it is a good idea to count the cost and decide if you have the wherewithal for this sort of thing. Of course, we have the Holy Spirit to help us, to empower us, to give us the resources we need to pay what it costs to follow Jesus. However you take this passage, I hope you see that the way Jesus calls us to live is most appropriately called salty. The life of a disciple is one of great flavor – the sort of flavor that makes other flavors more noticeable and enjoyable. As disciples, we bring flavor to life and help bring out all the flavors life has to offer. It might seem strange that such flavorful results spring from so much self-sacrifice, but if you think about it, I think you will understand it makes perfect sense.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.