The cost of discipleship is found in Luke 14:27, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.” If you want to be a disciple, you must give up everything. Being a disciple means giving up your life and living for Christ.
What is the cost of discipleship? Examples of discipleship are shown in the gospel as Jesus modeled for us what discipleship should look like. Paul also understood discipleship and boldly told the churches he wrote to in the New Testament what the cost of following Christ would be. Today, we are called to follow the examples set before us: to put up our cross daily and follow Jesus.
Let’s begin with the examples Jesus has given us of discipleship.
Jesus’ Example of Discipleship
Jesus provides us with many examples of discipleship throughout his life on earth. He calls his twelve disciples, tells many parables about discipleship, and in the end, lays down his life for us. We can learn the cost of discipleship through these stories.
Salvation is free but discipleship will cost you your life.D.B.
Jesus Calls the Twelve Disciples
In Mark chapter 1, Jesus calls his first disciples. He tells them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Simon and Andrew followed him. They did not wait, they dropped their nets and followed Jesus. Jesus also calls James and John from their boat. He again tells them to, “follow me” and they did.
Jesus proceeds to call Levi, who is a tax-collector. He was a Jewish man who was hated by both the Jews and Romans. He was hated by the Jews because he was a tax collector and hated by the Romans because he was a Jew. Jesus comes and asks him to follow him and he does. This wasn’t socially acceptable, but Jesus is showing that God’s love goes far beyond political and cultural differences.
Jesus proceeds to call seven more disciples. Each one follows him and they leave their lives and say goodbye to what they know. They leave everything to follow Jesus.
Discipleship is not an option. Jesus says that if anyone would come after me, he must follow me.Tim Keller
Cost of Discipleship Parable
The cost of discipleship parable is found in Luke 14:25-31. Jesus says to a large crowd, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.”
Jesus is telling us that we have to weigh the cost of following Him because it will cost us everything.
He goes on to say in verse 31, “Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand?”
“So therefore, none of you can become my disciples if you do not give up all your possessions” (14:33). Jesus clearly tells us what the cost of being a disciple is: giving up everything you own.
Jesus uses this parable to tell us that there is a cost to being a disciple. We must lay down our lives if we want to follow Jesus.
Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.”Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The Cost of Following Jesus
Jesus sends out his disciples in groups of two to send them ahead to places he had planned on visiting in Luke 10. He tells them in verses 10-11, “Heal the sick, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you now.’ But if a town refuses to welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘We wipe even the dust of your town from our feet to show that we have abandoned you to your fate. And know this—the Kingdom of God is near!’
The disciples were going to tell people that The Kingdom of God is near! Even if a town rejected the message of Jesus, the Kingdom is still near.
He goes on to say in verse 16, “Anyone who accepts your message is also accepting me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting me. And anyone who rejects me is rejecting God, who sent me.”
The disciples knew that if they were rejected, they were ultimately rejecting God. The cost of discipleship can be rejection from people, but that should not stop us from sharing the gospel to those who are lost.
Only a disciple can make a disciple.A. W. Tozer
Jesus Leaves His Disciples
After Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead three days later, he left his disciple with this message in Mark 16, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
Jesus calls his disciples to spread the Good News of salvation to the whole world. The Son of Man has saved the world and people can have salvation now. He was our lamb and our sacrifice and paid the price for our sins.
It goes on to say, “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
Jesus tells the disciples of the power they will have through God. They will be able to perform miracles. The disciples had seen Jesus perform many miracles throughout his life and now they were going to be the ones performing miracles.
God’s work was not finished after Jesus died on the cross, he needed people to spread the good news to all ends of the earth. It started with the disciples, they had already given up everything to follow Jesus and they were called to spread the gospel to all ends of the earth.
Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.Mark 16:20
Paul’s Example of Discipleship
Along with the twelve disciples, Paul gave up his life to be a disciple for Christ. He was imprisoned, stoned, and ultimately beheaded for sharing the gospel. In his letters to different churches, he often writes about the cost of the gospel.
He wrote in Romans 10:14-15, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”
Paul is saying that since people cannot know Jesus without knowing his name, we must go tell them! If we don’t tell them, how will they believe in him? The answer is they won’t know who Jesus is so they can’t believe in him.
Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.1 Corinthians 11:1
Boasting in Christ
Galatians 6:14 says, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
As disciples, Paul is telling us to stop boasting in what we can do. We should only boast in the cross of Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can save. We cannot give people eternal life, it is only through Christ.
When we spread the gospel, let us only boast in the cross. Let us put aside our feelings and what we want and boast in Christ and all he has done for us.
He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.Philippians 2:8
The Cost of Discipleship Today
Today, the cost of discipleship is the same as we read about in Scripture. We are called to lay down our lives and pick up our cross every single day. There is no “easy” way to be a disciple of Christ. He calls us to follow him and give him everything. He paid the price for our sins, we can honor him by giving him our life.
We are also called to spread the good news to the whole world. There are many different ways you can fulfill this as a disciple of Christ.
- Support a Missionary
- Sponsor a Child
- Go on a Mission Trip
- Pray for an Unreached People Group
These are just a few ways you can spread the gospel to the world.
- In America, we spend the same amount of money on dieting programs as we do on missions.
- We spent more on pet Halloween costumes each year then on missions.
- For every 300,00 Christians make $1 will go towards supporting an unreached people group.
(For more statics on mission giving in America visit The Traveling Team).
There are over three billion people who have not heard the gospel. (You can visit Joshua Project for more statics on unreached people groups). It is our job to tell these people about Jesus! We are all called, as a disciple of Jesus, to fulfill the Great Commission.
Whatever we do, we must not treat the Great Commission like a Great Suggestion.Charles R. Swindoll
10 Scriptures to Remind You of the Cost
Often times, we can so easily forget the cost of discipleship. Here are 10 Scriptures to remind you what the cost is. You can refer back to them when you need to be reminded of what the cost of discipleship is and what being a disciple looks like.
“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:7-8
Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:61-62
“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.” Luke 14:26
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
2 Timothy 3:12
“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:38-39
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25
“So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.” Luke 14:33
“He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” John 12:25
“And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:27
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20
Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self.C.S Lewis
10 Quotes About the Cost of Discipleship
These ten quotes will help to remind you what the cost of discipleship looks like for you today.
“We have suffered from the preaching of cheap grace. Grace is free, but it is not cheap. People will take anything that is free, but they are not interested in discipleship. They will take Christ as Savior but not as Lord.” Vance Havne
“No matter how high the powers of reason, no matter how deep the intellect, no one can discover God’s secret messages without paying the cost of true discipleship.” Winkie Pratney
“Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.” Dwight L. Moody
“His voice leads us not into timid discipleship but into bold witness.” Charles Stanley
“Because God disciplines those He loves, He will take drastic measures to get our attention if we need to grow up spiritually.” Crystal McDowell
“It is impossible to live the life of a disciple without definite times of secret prayer. You will find that the place to enter in is in your business, as you walk along the streets, in the ordinary ways of life, when no one dreams you are praying, and the reward comes openly, a revival here, a blessing there.” Oswald Chambers
“Many Christians have what we might call a “cultural holiness”. They adapt to the character and behavior pattern of Christians around them. As the Christian culture around them is more or less holy, so these Christians are more or less holy. But God has not called us to be like those around us. He has called us to be like himself. Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God.” Jerry Bridges
“I surrendered unto Him all there was of me; everything! Then for the first time, I realized what it meant to have real power.” Kathryn Kuhlman
“But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.” Francis Chan
The invitation is not, “Give Me thine head.” The invitation is, “My Son, give Me thine heart.”John G. Lake
It costs something to be a disciple of Christ. To live for Christ is to let go of all our possessions, pick up our cross, and follow Him. We no longer live for ourselves, we live for the King. If Jesus can die on the cross for our sins, the least we can do if give him our life and proclaim the gospel to the whole world.
“If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.William Law