18.3 The High Cost of Following Jesus.


The “Second Week”: Week Eighteen/Session Three.

Theme: The Call and Cost of Discipleship.

Our reading for today: Luke 14: 25-34.

One day when large groups of people were walking along with Him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to Me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be My disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind Me can’t be My disciple.”

“Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be My disciple. Salt is excellent. But if the salt goes flat, it’s useless, good for nothing. Are you listening to this? Really listening?” (Luke 14: 25-27, 33-34 MsgB)

My mentor, John Wimber, used to say it this way…

Nothing in the Kingdom comes without a price. Everything costs something. While salvation is a free gift from God and it costs us nothing to say ‘yes’ to Jesus, the truth is that it cost Him everything to purchase it for us! And for those of us who do decide to accept this free gift of salvation, everything else in the Kingdom of God will cost us something.

And so it is with every person who decides to follow Jesus. At some point in our journey with the Master, He will turn to us and say something similar to the words He speaks to this large crowd of followers (in today’s passage)…

“Anyone who comes to Me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be My disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind Me can’t be My disciple…Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be My disciple.”

Ouch. So much for a free lunch with Jesus!

Thus St. Ignatius has been reminding us this week that there is little room in God’s economy for the habitual Procrastinator or the persistent Compromiser. The Truly Free Person is one then who has experienced again and again the high cost of following Jesus wherever He might ask us to go.

Consider the rich young ruler (in Mark 10: 17-22) who was invited by Jesus to come along for the ride.

“Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” the wealthy man inquired. In The Message Bible, Eugene Peterson translates the rest of this amazing encounter this way…

Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him! He said, “There’s one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow Me.” The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.

You see, for this young man, the cost of discipleship included selling all that he owned, giving the proceeds to the poor, and then coming along with Jesus to begin a new life as a traveling troubadour for the Kingdom of God. And as we see in this story, this man’s sacrifice was apparently too costly for him, thus he “walked off with a heavy heart.”

On the other hand, there was a man who was apparently besieged with a legion of demons (see Mark 5: 1-20). And as the story goes, Jesus healed this man completely, freeing him from his hellish entrapment, giving him life and light where there was once only death and darkness. In this story, the healed man pleads with the Master to go with Him as Jesus and His disciples venture on to their next ministry assignment. Again, let’s read the way this story ends as Eugene Peterson translates it…

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the demon-delivered man begged to go along, but He wouldn’t let him. Jesus said, “Go home to your own people. Tell them your story—what the Master did, how He had mercy on you.”

Consider how this man felt. While his inner most desire was to spend the rest of his days walking alongside the kind Master who had healed him; the cost of discipleship, in this particular case, was for him to deny his strong desire to follow Jesus and remain where he was, becoming an evangelist for the Kingdom right there in his own hometown!

Hmm. Interesting isn’t it. For one man, the cost of discipleship is to leave everything familiar and come follow Jesus; while for another, it’s don’t follow Jesus but stay and serve Him right where you are.

Guess that settles it. One man’s cost of following Jesus will undoubtedly be different than another man’s. Yet, as I see it, the cost will still be the same. Simply put, if you and I are not willing to take what is dearest to us, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, we just can’t be His disciples. Amen and amen.

My prayer: Jesus, the cost of discipleship is indeed high, but I’m reminded of the words of encouragement that You spoke to Peter, “Mark my words, no one who sacrifices house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, land—whatever—because of Me and the Message will lose out. They’ll get it all back, but multiplied many times in homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land—but also in troubles. And then the bonus of eternal life! This is once again the Great Reversal: Many who are first will end up last, and the last first.” (Mark 10: 29-31) So Father, strengthen me as I pay my personalized price of discipleship, so that I might enter fully into Your Kingdom reward. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: So what is my personalized cost of discipleship today? What specific cross is Jesus asking me to bear for His Kingdom? Can I allow the Holy Spirit to empower me so that I might act upon this request from the Master, freeing me to enter even more into the joys of following Jesus, even when it might cost me everything I currently have?

So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Ignatian Adventure?

Over an eight month period, you and I will be working our way through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For more information on our journey and how to begin…click here!

To go onto the next journal entry…click here.

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