The Cost of Discipleship

KEY VERSE: “Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” —Luke 9:62

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Luke 9:51 – 10:12

THESE WORDS WERE spoken to a man who had expressed a desire to be Jesus’ follower, but had qualified it with a request to first go to his home and bid farewell to his family. Jesus’ reply might seem somewhat harsh, but as was often the case, he used the occasion as a means of expressing a general principle of discipleship, not intending a personal rebuke. However, with the Master’s unique ability to read men’s hearts, perhaps he sensed that the man was not fully persuaded to make this change in his life, and it was far better for him to count the cost at that time than to turn back from his service later.

Included in the terms Jesus had previously laid down for his followers was the requirement that one must “seek … first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” (Matt. 6:33) This must take precedence over all other interests, and priority over every action in life. To do this would not always be easy, because, as he explained to another man who volunteered to follow him, those who shared in his life of sacrifice could well be bereft of many earthly comforts and pleasures, as he was, even including some of the necessities of life. The “foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (vs. 58) Discipleship could also result in the weakening of sweet family ties, and the severing of earthly friendships.

On one occasion Jesus said to his disciples, “If any man come to me and hate [love less] not his father and mother and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) And then Jesus finished by saying how important it is that we are aware of the possible consequences in yielding ourselves to his service, 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.”—vss. 28,29

Discipleship—being fully consecrated to the Lord’s will—means that we are willing to give up all that we have and to follow Jesus. If this seems like too much, stop for a moment and compare the cost with the reward! The great Apostle Paul, having done this in his own life, gave this testimony: “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.” (Rom. 8:18) Paul said that glory would be to reign with him in his kingdom.

While the reward held out for faithful discipleship is a wonderful incentive needed to withstand the trials from the world, the flesh, and the Devil, and besetments to our service, the greatest impetus to continue in Jesus’ footsteps comes to us, as it did with our Lord, in the joy of knowing we are doing the Father’s will. Of Jesus it was prophesied that his motivation was, “I delight to do thy will O my God.” (Ps. 40:8) And Paul again expressed well the attitude of all true followers when he wrote of himself, “What things were gain to me those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.”—Phil. 3:7,8

The cost and purpose of discipleship is no different now than it was when Jesus walked the dusty roads of Israel those many years ago. He taught others how to become his followers, and that the servant was not above his master. His disciples were sent out from city to city, accepting the loss of all things, and suffering many hardships to bring the glorious light of truth to any God might be calling to be heirs of the kingdom. While witnessing to the truth brings much less suffering and hardship today, it is still our grand privilege to lay down our ‘all’ in his service. And if we faithfully follow him to the very end, not looking back, we can look forward to the time when we will be among those who “shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”—Matt. 13:43

Dawn Bible Students Association
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