By Evan Pyle

So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath,
he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)


The idea that I must forsake all that I have in order to be Jesus’ disciple has always troubled me. I have kept some things from my past such as photographs, mementos and family heirlooms. I very much want to be Christ’s disciple, yet I have not forsaken houses, lands, wife, children, sisters or friends. If I am to be a true disciple of Jesus, must I forsake all of these things? I believe a deeper look into the meaning of this verse will help us to live our lives in a purposeful, Christ-honoring way and serve as a guide for the many choices we will face.

To forsake means to leave, abandon or get rid of a thing.

Proverbs 28:13:
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Psalm 37:8:
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.

Isaiah 55:7:
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

The relative merit of forsaking depends upon who or what is being forsaken. As in the preceding examples, it is good to forsake sin, anger, wrath and our wicked ways. On the other hand, it is not good to forsake God or the life to which he has called us. In a quest to be Jesus’ disciples, we must be ready to forsake the "all that he hath" to which Jesus refers in Luke 14:33. The verses that precede Jesus’ pronouncement shed more light.

Luke 14:28–30:
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.

My wife Nancy and I are in the finishing stages of a long-delayed project at our house. Though it has been planned a long time, we did not begin until we knew we had sufficient resources to finish the project. Until there is enough to finish, wisdom dictates that the project should not be undertaken.

vv. 31–32:
Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.

Once the king determines that his forces have no chance against a superior enemy, the only responsible choice is to avoid the conflict. It would be foolhardy and destructive to rush headlong into a situation that would certainly spell ruin for the king and his armies. A Christian, contemplating whether he has the wherewithal to walk for God, must be willing to take an honest measure of his ability to live out his convictions successfully to the end.

The examples of the builder and the king teach the same lesson. In both cases, they did not have enough to successfully complete the tasks. So it is for the Christian believer. In ourselves, we do not have the resources to walk in God’s will all our days. We do not have the wisdom to stay on the path marked out for us. We do not have the strength to always resist the tempter’s attacks. Jesus is teaching his disciples that they must admit their weakness and abandon their own feeble resources in favor of his rich supply. To be his disciples, we must truly forsake "all that we have."

A Question of Hate

Luke 14:26–27:
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

If I find the idea of forsaking all troubling, I find the idea of hating my closest family members doubly so. It seems strange for Jesus to demand that I hate my family. What does he mean by this? What does he mean when he says that I must also hate my own life in order to be his disciple?

Luke 16:13:
No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Jesus is describing a hate that is different from the loathing one has for a mortal enemy. The question is one of loyalty: who is first and what is most important. Jesus is calling for first place in the heart and service of his disciples. Yes, he is to occupy a place above our family members and our own lives.

Matthew 10:37–39:
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

As the old saying goes, blood is thicker than water. For the prospective disciple, Christ’s shed blood on our behalf demands a loyalty greater than to family and even mortal life. Many Christians through the ages have lived up to this ideal by willingly suffering a martyr’s death for the testimony of Christ. They proved that they "hate" father, mother, sister and brother as well as their own lives for the sake of the gospel. Jesus’ blood can and should be thicker than familial and worldly loyalties. Only then can believers show themselves to be true followers of the Lord.

Though the cost of discipleship seems high, the reward is great. What we lose for Christ we gain in a new and sanctified way. Our lives are no longer our own, and we now live unto him.

Romans 6:10–13:
For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

Philippians 1:21:
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Peter’s Dilemma

Just as discipleship requires forsaking all and giving Jesus first place in all things, so it is with Christian ministry. Jesus personally confronted Peter about giving him first place in ministry to others.

John 21:15:
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

When Jesus asked Peter if he loved the Master more than the sheep he would shepherd, he wasn’t asking Peter to choose between the two. He was emphasizing that Jesus must always come first in Christian ministry. Ministers often mistake service in the ministry for serving the Master. We get so focused on feeding the sheep, we forget that the Chief Shepherd of our souls always demands first place. He did not choose us for our superior talent, intelligence and abilities (see 1 Cor. 1:26-29). Christ chose us for his own purposes that he might be glorified in us. If we forget this, we will minister to others from our own feeble abilities. Only when we deny ourselves and follow Christ will we be vessels fit for the Master’s use. The Church needs yielded ministers through whom Jesus works his will!

Forsaking all to follow Christ is not without reward. Jesus has promised his followers great reward, both in this life and in the life to come. May we be faithful followers of the Master.

Matthew 19:29:
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.



From the August 2010 issue of The Vine & Branches