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Have you ever been talking to someone, gone off onto a rabbit trail which seemed to be related to the subject at hand, then forgotten why you went there? I do this sometimes. Others I have talked to have, as well. I don’t know if it’s caffeine, aging, or some glitchy memory thing, but it seems like a common human experience.

Jesus, however, never took rabbit trails and didn’t have a glitchy memory, although it seems sometimes that He did. The problem with our thinking when we read what He said is that we don’t understand His flow of thought. Often, unfortunately, our Bibles contribute to this misunderstanding. I like the English Standard Version, but they added incomprehension when they formatted the text of Luke 14. At the end of that chapter, Jesus laid out His sacrificial requirements for discipleship. These are very important for us to know because for so many Christians in the West, discipleship consists mainly of reading the Bible, praying, obeying the commandments, and attending church, none of which are sacrificial. We hear little about being willing to literally die and give up everything for Jesus. The Lord begins to conclude by saying,

“So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).1

Except He’s not done yet.

But here the ESV puts a subheading:

Salt Without Taste Is Worthless

Followed by these verses:

“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 14:34–35).

Why was the statement about “renouncing all” separated from the last two verses? Did Jesus take a rabbit trail and say something totally out of the blue so that we needed a heading break?

No, He didn’t.

Jesus doesn’t do random.

Jesus was giving us a smack upside the head—in love, of course—by telling us that unless we follow His requirements for discipleship, our salt is not salty anymore. It’s only good for the manure pile, which is His stark way of telling us our discipleship is useless.

There is no following verse containing His apology for proclaiming this seemingly offensive statement. Jesus is laying out the truth. He’s serious.

The point here is to encourage readers of the Bible to try to understand Jesus’ flow of thought. If a statement or passage seems to be a rabbit trail or from out in left field, we should push through and attempt to discover why this may not be the case. This effort will take some time and thought. The results may prove offensive. Yet, it will yield wonders of understanding, challenging as they may be.

Thank You, Father, for teaching us Your truth. Help us understand as we read.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (2016). Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy Bing images.

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