Following Jesus seemed easy enough at first, but that was because they had not followed him very far. It soon became apparent that being a disciple of Christ involved far more than a joyful acceptance of the Messianic promise: it meant the surrender of one’s whole life to the Master in absolute submission to his sovereignty. There could be no compromise. “No servant can serve two masters,” Jesus said, “for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13). There had to be a complete forsaking of sin. The old thought patterns, habits, and pleasures of the world had to be conformed to the new disciplines of the kingdom of God (Matt. 5:1–7:29; Luke 6:20–49). Perfection of love was now the only standard of conduct (Matt. 5:48), and this love was to manifest itself in obedience to Christ (John 14:21, 23) expressed in devotion to those whom he died to save (Matt. 25:31–36). There was a cross in it—the willing denial of self for others (Mark 8:34–38; 10:32–45; Matt. 16:24–26; 20:17–28; Luke 9:23–25; John 12:25–26; 13:1–20).

This was strong teaching. Not many people could take it. They liked to be numbered among his followers when he filled their stomachs with bread and fish, but when Jesus started talking about the true spiritual quality of the Kingdom and the sacrifice necessary in achieving it (John 6:25–29), many of his disciples “went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:66). As they put it, “This is a hard saying: who can hear it?” (John 6:60). The surprising thing is that Jesus did not go running after them to try to get them to stay on his membership roll. He was training leaders for the Kingdom, and if they were going to be fit vessels of service, they were going to have to pay the price. — Coleman, Robert E. 2006. The Master Plan of Evangelism. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.