Jesus Wants Followers Who Want To Become Disciples

Special notice to our readers! 

Please accept my apology for not posting on our Ray of Hope Ministries web-sites for the past few months. This was the result of the combination of serious health issues in our family and a move from New Jersey to Florida. We are still dealing with the aftermath of some of this, but we have been hoping and praying that we will be able to overcome this disruption in our lives. I can tell you from personal experience that as I have often said in our Ray of Hope Ministries posts over the past few years – When what you are hoping for is in accordance with God’s will for you, God will assure that those hopes are fulfilled, in God’s time and God’s way. Every day I’m discovering how true this is. Thanks for your faithful support.

Also, please note my new e-mail address I will be happy to hear from you.

Grace and peace,  Ray


Read Luke14:25-33

Not too far from Washington, D.C. is the town of Mannaseh, Virginia. The site of one of the first major battles sof the American Civil War. At that time war was still seen as something glorious. Yes, some people might get hurt or killed. But to many people war was seen as a game. And that was part of the game.  So it was in that spirit that many of the politicians and well-to-do people of Washington got into their carriages and drove to a hillside overlooking the field of battle. There they got out of their carriages and set up for a picnic on the hillside.

They cheered the union forces as though they were at a sporting event. It was such great fun. Victory for their team would be quick and easy.. But before they knew what was happening, the tide of battle changed. The rebel forces overpowered the union forces. Suddenly the spectators realized that their lives were in danger as the rebels charged toward them. They quickly got back in their carriages and ran for their lives back to the city. The picnic was over.

Now let’s turn the clock back about 2, 000 years earlier. It is very likely that many of the people in the large crowd which was following Jesus, were there because they either heard about, or were present, at that mass picnic,where Jesus fed 5,000 families.They were following Jesus because they were expecting him to do good things for them, like throwing another picnic. But Jesus turned to them and in effect said, “where I’m going there will  be no more picnics. I’m going to fight a war. You need to decide if you want to have a picnic or fight a war. Jesus doesn’t just want followers. That is, people who observe and experience the good things he does for them and others. He wants disciples. People who are interested in doing what he does and in becoming like him.

He is up front with these people. He explains that if they want to be his disciples,, and not just followers, they need to be aware of the cost. If they want to join him in fighting the war, and not just enjoy a picnic, it will be costly. They will be called upon to put their faith and trust in him above anyone and anything else. They must be prepared to give up family and possessions, and even their lives.

He wants them to calculate the cost of discipleship. Just as a farmer calculates the cost of building a watch tower. Or a king calculates the cost of winning a battle. Ask the question. Calculate the answer. Do you really want to pay the cost of being a disciple of Christ? Do you really want to engage in a war against the spiritual forces of evil? Or would you rather just follow along and every now and then stop for a picnic?

I imagine it was about the time that Jesus confronted his followers with this question that their ranks began to thin. I believe that most of the people understood Jesus to be saying, “if you find the cost of discipleship too overwhelming, then you should really give up the idea of being a disciple. I believe that, because that’s what most of us would hear if Jesus confronted us as he confronted those crowds about 2,000 years ago. And in fact, Jesus does confront us in the same way. But we don’t have to hear what he says in the same way as did those crowds. Because we know something they didn’t know. We know what happened when Jesus ended his journey to Jerusalem We know about the suffering and his death. We know about the cross. But we also know about his resurrection and eternal life.

We can hear his message in a different way. We can hear him saying, not “calculate the cost and if you find it to be overwhelming, then give up on the idea of being my disciple.” Instead, we can hear him say “if you calculate the cost, you will find it overwhelming, but don’t give up, because I have promised to fill you with the Holy Spirit. If you will just faithfully wait and pray. I keep my promises today, just as I did on that Pentecost about 2,000 years ago, when the church was born. Put your whole faith and trust in God and you will be my disciples and witnesses.”

Today Jesus is telling the church that the picnic was over a long time ago. He has been and still is engaging in warfare with the spiritual forces of evil. What he wants is disciples who will fight the war with him. Not followers hoping to enjoy a free picnic. He is confronting us today as he confronted those who followed him 2,000 years ago.

2,000 years ago his followers began to turn away from him rather than go on to become his disciples. We can excuse them. They didn’t know any better. But we have no excuse. We know that as individuals and as the church, we are able to be disciples of Jesus, and not just followers. All we have to do is use the formula Jesus has given us. That is, use whatever faith we have, to wait and pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit. And through the grace that we will receive from the Holy Spirit, we will become Jesus’ witnesses and disciples. When that happens we will then proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior and we will proclaim his kingdom, wherever and whenever it is, to whoever God sends us.

Calculate the cost of discipleship. Realize that the cost is overwhelming. But say yes anyway. Because your are able. Because Jesus is able. Understand, there is nothing wrong with following Jesus, as long as it is a step toward discipleship.What is wrong is failing to accept or use the grace of God that the Holy Spirit offers to and gives you, in order to  make the transition from follower to disciple.

Grace  and  peace,  Ray


We welcome any comments and questions you might want to share with us and others. We expect to publish a new Bible study on or about September 19.

(you can contact us by E-mail at ( Please not that this is a new e-mail address.).


We have also written an extensive reference – How to Study the Bible – which you can always access by clicking on the “Study Guide” tab above.

You might also find it helpful to view web-sites which contain complete texts of various  versions of the Bible, as well as additional material helpful for Bible study, such as ( and  (

We also invite you to view our other web-sites, as follows:

* Our blog, Today’s Enlightenment at

* Ray Gough’s e-book , noted below, which can be read, downloaded, or copied free at

              HOPES FULFILLED

                  A Spiritual Autobiography


    How God fulfilled the faith-based hopes

         of an ordinary guy from Jersey City

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