Read Jesus' teachings about following him here (Matthew 7 and Mark 8:27-38)
Do You Know the Real Cost?
Salvation is a free gift from God and no one deserves it. It is by the grace of God and we receive it by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). There is nothing a sinner can do to earn God's mercy. But when you accept this gift and follow Jesus, it will cost you everything.
Jesus is not an extra help to your troubles or an accessory to make your life more comfortable. He becomes your whole life. He is King over all aspects of your life. You obey and follow Him no matter what, even when it means suffering, persecution and death.
If you want a comfortable life, stay away from Jesus.
The Narrow Way
“Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:14)
Jesus points out that the way to paradise is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only very few people would find it. This means that by being a follower of Jesus, you are choosing to walk on the difficult path that does not include the pleasures of the world. You are to focus on your relationship with God and live a godly and righteous life.
Only a few people find this narrow way to salvation because it is not attractive. They expect following Jesus means an easy comfortable life, and do not want to let go of the things they love. They prefer the easier and broad road that leads to destruction in hell at the end of their lives.
Examples of Counting the Cost
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. (Mark 8:34)
Jesus says that whoever wants to be His disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Him. Denying your sinful self, your lust, your addiction, your greed, your pride, your pleasures, or anything that does not give glory to God.
It means your old self, your old identity and the old way of life must all die. The way of the cross is all about sacrificing your own life for God and giving up your right to control your own life. Your life now belongs solely to God and His purpose.
“Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.” (Mark 8:35)
Jesus makes it clear that if you try to hold on to your life you will lose it, but if you lose your life by following Him, you will save it. What He is saying is that by holding on to your old life and refusing to surrender to Him, you will lose your life after you die because you will suffer eternal punishment in hell.
This is not because God is cruel, but because Jesus' blood is the only thing that can cover your sin. But if you give your life to Jesus, you will gain it because of Jesus has given His life on the cross as a sacrifice on your behalf so that you may have life that is everlasting.
What Does Jesus Say about Counting the Cost of Following Him?“
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?” (Luke 14:28-33)
Jesus gives two examples of what it means to follow Him: If you want to build a tower or go to war with another nation, would you not sit down and work out if you have enough money or power to accomplish it? And if you lay the foundation of the tower but end up running out of money, or if you go to war with a country who would defeat you, you just look like a fool.
In verse 33, Jesus makes it clear by saying, ‘In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples’. If you are not ready to leave behind your old life to follow Jesus, then you are not worthy to be His disciple.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. And the kingdom of heaven is also like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it (Matthew 13:44-46)
Jesus also told these two Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl. If you truly understand who Jesus is, what He has done for you and how much He means everything to your life, you would be like these two men in the parables. You would be excited to exchange everything you have in exchange for this gift of God. Do you see this hidden treasure?
Jesus Came to Show us Servanthood
“Just like the Son of Man who did not come to be served by people, but to serve and to give his life to redeem many people." (Matthew 20:28)
We are the servants of God and we follow Jesus, who came to serve and not to be served. As we surrender our lives to Jesus, we are called to serve others. The life of a Christian is one of service to our Lord. Jesus suffered and died on the cross to pay for the price of our sin. When we say we follow Christ, we give up our right to our lives and accept a life of suffering and sacrifice too.
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2
Our focus in life should be to live a life that honors God. We give up our right to material wealth, pleasures or comfort. Colossians 3:2 tells us to focus on things above and not on earthly things. We will not carry our possessions with us when we die, and we should not worry about how we will become rich. Set your mind on the things of God because those things are the things that matter and last eternally. God has promised to take care of your needs and you do not have to spend all your life trying to satisfy your own needs.
Persecution for Your Submission of Your Life to Jesus
“Remember what I told you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20)
Jesus talked of the reality of persecution for those who belong to Him. The apostle Paul (one of the early leading follower of Jesus) also spoke of persecution for following Jesus in 2 Timothy 3:12. ‘In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’. In this world, we will face persecution for standing up for our faith. Many people of this world find Jesus' message offensive and unacceptable, and they will try to silence or kill those who are his believers.
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” (Matthew 24:9)
People who have chosen to give their lives to Jesus will be persecuted and possibly put to death because of being disciples of Jesus. But if you suffer in the hands of those who hate God and end up losing your life, you are blessed and will go to be with your Messiah. Your suffering will be for the glory of God.
“I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
This is one of the most shocking and revolutionary teachings of Jesus. Instead of becoming bitter with those who persecute you and cause you pain, pray for them and bless them. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:44 to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
'Not by Might nor by Power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of Hosts. (Zachariah 4:6)
We can never triumph over sin, temptations, and trials of life with our own effort. Whoever thinks he can is living in self-deception. If we can win this spiritual battle ourselves then God does not need to save us. God knows exactly how much we need his mercy and help each day to live the life He has called us to live.
“Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
As we bring the Good News of Jesus' sacrifice and salvation to others around the world, Jesus has promised to be with us until the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20). He will never leave or forsake you. Many people who have faced persecution can testify to this promise. We can never do it in our own strength and effort, but by pursuing our relationship with God and asking for His strength, we can.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6)
God invites us to His throne to receive His grace and mercy to help us in our time of need. His strength is sufficient for every situation we face in life, and we should put all our trust in Him. God will help you overcome every struggle and persecution and set you free to live for Him.
Listen to God and Pray...
What does it mean to deny yourself and carry the cross to follow Jesus?
Are you willing to surrender the way Jesus' teachings have demanded?
Which areas of your life are stopping you from fully surrendering your life to God? Are you willing to ask God to help you surrender those areas as well?
Who will you share these teachings of Jesus with?