In Luke 9:23 Jesus tells His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Fast-forward two-thousand years and history tells us that Jesus was right. Take a short walk through the corridors of church history and you will find that many men and women died for their faith in Jesus.
- Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was stoned to death in Acts 6 because he preached the gospel.
- John Wycliffe, the man who translated the Bible into common English, had his body dug up and burned for standing against the Pope.
- John Huss, known as the “swan” of the Reformation, was burned at the stake for opposing the views of the Roman Catholic Church.
- Bonnie Witherall, a missionary to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, was shot down in 2002 because she was a follower of Jesus.
The gospel is not a message of self-fulfillment, but self-denial.
The gospel is not a message of self-fulfillment, but self-denial. Following Jesus is costly. But the reality is, for many of us, following Jesus won’t cost us our lives. But do not be mistaken: it will cost you to follow Him. What will it cost exactly? Many things could be said, but here are three common ways it will cost you to follow Jesus.
Maybe you’re a student and people at your school have started to find out you follow Jesus. So, they begin to give you the cold shoulder or make you the center of their insults and jokes. You’re no longer considered “cool” because you refuse to do things that you know wouldn’t please God. Following Jesus can sometimes cost you popularity.
Maybe you started following Jesus but the people closest to you don’t. Maybe it’s a parent, a spouse, a co-worker, a close friend, or a boyfriend or girlfriend. And because you start to love and obey God you feel those relationships starting to change—maybe even end. Following Jesus can sometimes cost you people.
Maybe you have a job that comes with authority and a nice paycheck. One day your superior comes to you and asks you to do something that would compromise your faith in Jesus. You respectfully decline and as a result, you lose money, authority, or maybe even your job. Following Jesus can sometimes cost you power.
What Jesus is saying is that if you follow Him it will be costly. And the reason why He is telling us these things is so “that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you” (John 16:4). In other words, don’t be surprised when it cost you to follow Jesus.
This article is an excerpt from a sermon I preached at College Park Church. You can view the sermon here: