“And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”—Luke 14:27 (NKJV)
What do marriage, parenting, and starting a small business have in common? Hint: Think cost.
Got it yet? Well, while it takes money to enter into each of these endeavors, what is undeniably requires is commitment. A person must count the cost before entering in. This is exactly what Jesus implies in today’s verse.
This warning comes on the tail end of parables Jesus shares with invitations to follow Him, but it springboards into analogies describing how emotionally and spiritually invested a person needs to be. And it begins by bearing the cross.
This is why: At the time of Jesus’ ministry, the Roman Empire was the governing authority in Israel. As such, the Roman method of execution was crucifixion. When Jesus said that following Him would include “bearing one’s cross,” it meant followers would undergo harrowing hardships.
Initially, Jesus had many followers. He was known for His many miracles. Who wouldn’t like that? Even now, people flock to outreaches because they see what the church is providing. They get on board because they love the outward benefits, not fully realizing the cost involved with surrendering to Jesus, truly knowing Him, and abiding in Him. Yes, salvation is free (Ephesians 2:8), but along with that we give our lives over to Jesus. It’s a transfer of ownership, and it’s very difficult to do.
When witnessing for Christ, we want to be honest about what the commitment involves. Like Andrew said to Peter, we should boldly proclaim, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41 NKJV)! But good discipleship also includes mentoring a new believer and helping him or her overcome the stumbling blocks of this world and the love of the world (1 John 2:15-17). We must point them to Jesus’ words to take up their cross daily (use Luke 9:23-26). We ought to show them Paul’s letter to the Romans that appealed to them to present themselves as a “living sacrifice” and to be transformed by the renewing of their minds, which is pleasing to God (Romans 12:1). We need to remind them the cost is high to follow Jesus, but higher still is the price we pay when we reject Him.
The cross Jesus bore—shedding His blood—purchased our freedom from sin and death. It was the highest cost God could bear, and Jesus counted the cost with His words, “Not My will, but Your will be done” (Luke 22:42). Let’s echo that commitment.
DIG: What does “counting the cost” mean?
DISCOVER: In what ways have you taken up your cross? (It’s an individual endeavor.)
DO: Use your experience of investing in the kingdom of God to encourage a new believer.