Count the Cost
Read Mark 8:34-36 (ESV)
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
According to Jesus, what do we have to do in order to follow Him?
There is no doubt about it. Salvation is a free gift from God. We cannot earn our salvation in any way. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a cost involved in following Jesus. In Luke 14:28, Jesus gives the example of building a tower. He said, “’For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?’” In Luke 14, Jesus was telling the crowds that following Him involves sacrifice. If we want to be His disciples, we can’t be half-hearted. He gives us full disclosure about what following Him entails and then He asks us to make the choice considering the facts. He wants us to count the cost.
When the crowds were following Him, they were amazed. He fed the hungry, He healed the sick, He gave sight to the blind! His teaching was fascinating, and the miracles were something to witness for sure! Following Him around was no doubt an amazing experience. But then Jesus clarifies what it actually means to follow Him. In today’s verse, He says that His disciples must be willing to deny themselves. They must “carry their cross.” They must lay down their lives.
To be followers of Jesus we must identify with Jesus’ suffering. We must surrender to His will rather than striving to live out our own. It means dying to ourselves every single day. When we follow Jesus, we don’t want what we want—we want what He wants. Plus, remember that Jesus said we would be hated as He is hated (John 15:18-25)?
So why would anyone want to follow Jesus? Jesus told us why we should in today’s verses. If we lose our lives here on earth for His sake and for the Gospel, we are actually saving our lives. It’s a no pain, no gain scenario. But the pain part is temporary. The gain is eternal.
Friends, following Jesus is the best investment you’ll ever make! Anything we sacrifice this side of heaven is small potatoes compared to the glory we gain in eternity! When I count the cost and do a risk vs. reward analysis, I see quite clearly that it’s worth it to take up my cross and follow Him. Who wants to gain the whole world only to lose their souls forever? No, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are willing to lose our lives for His sake so that we can find our lives forever in Him.
Jesus, following You is worth the cost! This world has nothing to offer me that is worth sacrificing my soul for. You are my treasure and my reward. Give me Your strength so that I can daily take my up cross and follow You. Amen.