Counting the Cost
Counting the Cost
The phrase "Follow Me" encompasses the call and the following conflict of discipleship. It also reveals the cost of discipleship. Jesus began his ministry, seeking out followers that he would teach and train to spread the message of salvation after his ascension into heaven. His spiritual instruction was later accompanied by a cost that led the apostles to many adversities. Of the twelve apostles, all but one was martyred for their refusal to deny Jesus Christ. Indeed, the apostles fulfilled the initial calling of "Follow Me."
The mission of Jesus was fulfilled on the cross when he gave up his life as a living sacrifice for all of humanity. He paved the way that all believers should be prepared to walk in and pattern their life after. Ultimately, following Jesus will always lead to the cross; this is the cost of true discipleship. In his parable on discipleship, Jesus warned those who pursued after him to count the cost, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build and was not able to finish” (Luke 14:28). The man was unable to complete the tower, not for the lack of resources but lack of will. Jesus concludes his parable with the statement, “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” The conclusion indicates that the builder had more to offer but refused to give it. The builder held onto his resources because he was not prepared to give all. Practically, a disciple must be prepared to give all. To be a disciple is more than church attendance; it is the awareness that following Jesus may cost the disciple some social relations. When following Jesus there will be some that are offended; they will ostracize a disciple and show contempt for them. Thus, all disciples must count the cost beyond time on a Sunday morning, but in all areas of life.
The third characteristic of discipleship is sacrifice. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). True discipleship will always follow the same path of Jesus Christ, which ends with the cross. The cross is synonymous with sacrifice. To take up one’s cross is a figure of speech alluding to a person daily committing themselves to a life of sacrifice. What is a disciple sacrificing daily? A follower of Jesus Christ willingly surrenders their life (i.e., desires, relationships, goals, interests) for the sake of the Gospel.
To sacrifice one’s desires doesn’t mean to disregard goals, interests, and relationships. It means, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, an individual must prioritize and emphasize God’s will before anything else. By placing God first, it establishes a point of reference by which all relationships, activities, and desires are examined to ensure they fit God’s plan for one’s life. When a person sets the kingdom of God first in their life by sacrificing their will, the Bible states that “all things will be given to you also” (Matt. 6:33 AMP).