Luke 14:25

ESV Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them,
NIV Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:
NASB Now large crowds were going along with Him, and He turned and said to them,
CSB Now great crowds were traveling with him. So he turned and said to them:
NLT A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them,
KJV And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
NKJV Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them,

What does Luke 14:25 mean?

Luke probably placed this story here to continue a theme: identifying those who can experience the blessings of God's sovereignty, authority, and character. There's no indication that this teaching directly followed His antagonistic meal at the home of the ruler of the Pharisees (Luke 14:1–24). That "great crowds" are involved indicates this is not during the earlier meal.

In previous stories, Jesus explained how the kingdom of God differs from cultural expectations of that era. In many cultures, even in the modern world, people interact by trying to win honor and avoid shame. For instance, when a group of men are invited for a meal, the one with the highest social standing should sit closest to the host. And the host only invites guests who improve his own social standing. In addition, groups such as the Pharisees enforce extra-biblical rules, like forbidding healing on the Sabbath.

In one meal, Jesus tore apart such extra-biblical rules and their social machinations. In the process, He showed how God favors those who take care of the weak, and how the least of these are more likely to accept God's invitation to join Him in paradise for eternity. It is good to heal people on the Sabbath. It is good to serve the poor and injured who cannot repay you. It's likely that the homeless and criminals will humbly accept God's grace before hypocritical religious leaders.

But Luke doesn't want to leave the message there. The invitation to citizenship in God's kingdom is always by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:1–10) but being a good citizen of the kingdom and living out one's devotion to God has a cost. Faithful disciples value Jesus more than their parents, their spouses, and their children—even more than their own lives. Those God invites to His kingdom need to carefully consider whether a promise of future paradise is worth submitting their lives now.

This section expands the message given in Matthew 10:37–38, reframes Luke 12:51–53, and repeats what Jesus told the disciples in Luke 9:23.
What is the Gospel?
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