25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 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.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
28 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.
31 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. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Luke 14:25–35)
Three times in this passage, Jesus makes the statement, “cannot be my disciple.” What is meant by “disciple”?
The word for disciple appears 269 times in the New Testament—all of them in the Gospels and Acts. It does not appear at all in the rest of the New Testament.
The word “disciple” (mathētēs) means a follower or learner. A disciple was someone who followed and learned from a teacher. We usually think of Jesus having disciples, but so did John the Baptist (Matthew 9:14), the Pharisees (Matthew 22:16), and Paul (Acts 9:25).
Jesus had many disciples who followed Him (Luke 6:17), but sometimes they stopped following Him and left (John 6:66; Luke 19:37-39). This tells us that not every disciple was a true believer in Christ. Those disciples who left, came to Jesus to learn if He was the Messiah and, finding Him not to their expectations, they left.
In our passage today, Jesus places some very strict requirements on being His disciple. As we look at His requirements, be asking yourself: is being a disciple the same as being a believer?