Luk 14:25 And there went great multitudes with him. And turning, he said to them:
“Great multitudes went with Him”—accompanied Him on His way to Jerusalem (chap. 13:22), as if proclaiming that they wished to be among His followers and disciples. Taking occasion, from seeing them following Him, our Lord, turning to them, informs them, that in order to be His disciple, it was not enough to approach Him, or follow Him on foot; one must be prepared for crosses and mortifications—for sacrificing, when required, all human affections—to give up all that is nearest and dearest to us.
Luk 14:26 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.
(See Matthew 10:37.) “Hate,” not simply, but so far as they are opposed to Christ; also, in a comparative sense, of loving less, of loving them less than Christ, of loving Him more, and this shown in act, when required. Similar is the phrase, “dilexi Jacob, Esau odio habui.” The same is expressed by St. Matthew (10:37), “He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me.” The words of our Lord here are even stronger than those in St. Matthew. We must not only love Him more than them, more than our own lives; but, we must even positively “hate,” not them, but whatever is in them that withdraws us from the love of Christ. We must hate in ourselves, and refuse to ourselves whatever is opposed to Him, and contrary to His law. For, the law of Christ often forbids things contrary to our wicked desires and inclinations.
Luk 14:27 And whosoever doth not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Luk 14:28 For which of you, having a mind to build a tower, doth not first sit down and reckon the charges that are necessary, whether he have wherewithal to finish it:
Luk 14:29 Lest, after he hath laid the foundation and is not able to finish it, all that see it begin to mock him,
Luk 14:30 Saying: This man began to build and was not able to finish.
Luk 14:31 Or, what king, about to go to make war against another king, doth not first sit down and think whether he be able, with ten thousand, to meet him that, with twenty thousand, cometh against him?
Luk 14:32 Or else, while the other is yet afar off, sending an embassy, he desireth conditions of peace.
Luk 14:33 So likewise every one of you that doth not renounce all that he possesseth cannot be my disciple.
(See Matthew 10:38; 16:24.) In this verse, our Lord shows how we are to hate our own souls, by adding, “whosoever doth not carry his cross,” &c. The word “disciple,” is understood by some, of the profession of the Christian faith, the following of our Lord, common to all Christians. In this sense, adopted by Maldonatus, the renunciation, the hatred here mentioned, is strictly preceptive; and means, that sooner than abandon Christ and His faith, we should sacrifice every thing else, be it ever so near or dear to us. Others, with Jansenius, maintain, there is question of being His disciple, like the Apostles and seventy-two disciples, and although the words may, in a general sense, apply to all Christians in regard to giving up all, sooner than abandon Christ, trampling on our own corrupt inclinations, and bearing every kind of persecution and suffering for His sake, still, the words, according to this latter opinion, apply to those who give up every thing in this world, and obey the Evangelical counsels, for the love of Him. In this sense, the words merely convey a counsel. The two following parables, or examples drawn from the ordinary concerns of life, having reference to business of great worldly importance, failure in which would involve great loss and disgrace, would seem greatly in favour of this latter opinion. The case of the builder of the tower reckoning beforehand his resources, and making his undertaking—his difficult and expensive work—dependent on his calculations, clearly enough applies to the Christian who may voluntarily resolve to embrace the state of Evangelical perfection, to which he is not strictly bound. This latter should carefully measure his strength, aided by God’s grace, with the difficulties of the state he aspires to, and should he not have good grounds, amounting to a moral certainty, for believing in his power to persevere, he should not embrace it, lest afterwards, if obliged to give it up, he should expose himself to scorn and ridicule, like the builder of the unfinished house. The same is true of the example of the king about to embark in war. The application could not be easily seen in reference to the embracing of Christianity. Our Redeemer would hardly insinuate, that it was free under any circumstances, for any one to decline this important work, to decline the conflict with the enemy of man’s salvation, or to enter into any compromise with him in fighting the battle of the Lord. The same is rendered more probable still, by the conclusion and application of the example (v. 33), “So likewise every one of you that doth not renounce all that he possesses, cannot be My disciple,” as if He said; you are not only to measure your strength in reference to giving up all you hold most dear, for My sake, if you wish to aspire to a state of Evangelical perfection. You must go further still, and renounce all you have in the world, if you aspire to the privilege of being more closely united to Me.
Maldonatus and others, however, who maintain there is question of embracing and retaining the faith, at every sacrifice, say, that our Lord, by the examples adduced, only means to convey, that the embracing of the Christian law, and the observance of its precepts, are not a very easy matter; and hence, as happens in regard to arduous or important worldly business, when men are about to embark on any difficult or expensive undertaking, such as raising an edifice or waging war, they consider their strength and resources; so ought Christians on embracing the law and faith of Christ, and taking on them His yoke, bear in mind, that it is not a very easy matter, involving no trouble or sacrifice, they are undertaking; that it is not a life of enjoyment, bringing with it great temporal advantages or glory, such as the crowds following our Lord vainly imagined, in regard to our Lord’s coming kingdom, which they are embracing; that they should then prepare well for its arduous duties. For, it would be a lesser evil, however enormous, never to have embraced the truth, than after having done so, to turn back (2 Peter 2:21). Whatever in the examples adduced may serve to illustrate these points, are pertinent; the rest, ornamental. There is no use, therefore, in dwelling on the meaning of the word, “tower,” nor on the bearing of the compromise, which the king proposes to make. There can be no compromise with the enemy of salvation, no peace or terms with him. Such peace would be utter ruin and destruction. Hence, there can be no application of this portion of the parable in the interpretation of Maldonatus. If the interpretation of Jansenius, who understands it of mere counsel, were adopted; then, there might be some room for application to the subject. It is agreed on all hands, that there are several circumstances in the literal recital of parables of a merely ornamental character, having no reference to the subject, which the parable is intended to illustrate. This observation will save interpreters much trouble and embarrassment in endeavouring to apply several circumstances in the examples here adduced, since these circumstances are merely ornamental, and not meant to be applied at all, in truth, utterly inapplicable.