The Cost of Discipleship

by Anika Jones

Kingdom discipleship will cost us EVERYTHING- Jesus’ words, not mine. This discipleship thing may sound good rolling off the tongue, but do we really understand what we signed up for? I love how direct Jesus is about this matter.

Luke 14:25-33
25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Pause and reread the above passage aloud. Jesus did not mince His words, did He?

Jesus wasn’t saying that we should literally hate our family members or even ourselves. However, if we want to be His disciples, Jesus and His kingdom should be our highest priority, nothing else should occupy a space that only He deserves. Our love and submission to Christ trumps everything else. To be sure, there is a cost to following Jesus, and it is one we should consider. We cannot deny that these strong words from Jesus have practical implications in our relationships with others and the way we live.

At first glance, the enemy’s discipleship package is more appealing than the way of Jesus. The world tells us we are to love ourselves, live our best lives, follow our dreams and if it feels good to you, then do it! It tells us we deserve comfort and happiness and encourages us to go to great lengths to achieve it. Then here comes Jesus, saying that if we want to be His disciples, we must die to ourselves and pick up our cross and follow Him. Jesus’ original audience understood the gravity of what He was saying about carrying their cross.  In his bible commentary, Craig Keener states, “a condemned criminal would “carry the cross” out to the site of the upright stake where he would be crucified, usually amid a jeering mob. No one would choose this fate for oneself, but Jesus calls true disciples to choose it and thus to hate their own lives by comparison with their devotion to him” (Keener, 2014, p. 219).

As disciples, we must embrace the way of the cross as Jesus did (Philippians 2). Disciples don’t reject God amid suffering, instead we cling to Him with such hope knowing that death leads to life (John 12:22-26).  We don't keep our gaze on what we have to give up, holding on tightly to the things of the world. We instead set our minds on things that are above, knowing that we have died, and our life is hidden in Christ with God (Colossians 3:1--3).  We joyfully surrender because we know Jesus as King!  (Daniel 7:13-14)

I love knowing that though Jesus is calling us to give up all, we can be joyful and encouraged because of His promise in “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life” Matthew 19:19. What blessed hope we have!

Below are a few questions for reflection and prayer.

1.Have we counted the cost for being a disciple of Jesus? What is our tone toward God when we go through suffering?

2. Look at our future goals, our schedules, our priorities, our thought life, how we spend our money, etc. Is Jesus and His kingdom our highest priority in these areas?

3. What is our response when the requirements of being a disciple of Jesus come into conflict with the people and things we love?

4. Read and meditate on the highlighted scriptures.

Repent if needed and let us receive the grace that is available for us to be true disciples of Jesus!