Consider the cost of building a tower / It’s a narrow way that you must come / For to do the will of the Father is to follow the Son / To love Him more than father or mother / To love Him more than your own flesh / To give all that you are for all that He is – this is the gospel according to Jesus
- Steve Camp, Consider the Cost, from the 1991 album of the same title
Whenever I go shopping, I have a habit of counting how much everything is going to cost me before I get to the register to check out. I hate to be surprised by the total, especially when I’m on a tight budget (which is most of the time). I will literally add up my purchases in my head as I put them into my cart, rounding up as often as possible. I didn’t used to do this and there were times I got to the register and was shocked to see what I owed. I also don’t want to overspend. One of my unspoken fears is that I’ll owe more than I can afford to pay. So, I keep track as I go along.
Toward the end of Matthew chapter 8, a few individuals approach Jesus with the intent to follow Him. And Jesus is very blunt about how much it is going to cost them, which I like. He doesn’t want them or anyone “joining the team” under any illusions. If they, or we, are going to make a decision, He wants them and us to be fully informed. It was that way then, and it’s the same way now. And there is a cost. There are no free rides, contrary to what some preachers may say.
In this part of Scripture, Jesus wants everyone to know it may not always be comfortable or easy to follow Him. In fact, it may often involve great cost and sacrifice with no guarantee of earthly rewards or security. For example, Jesus did not have a place to call home. Those of us who choose to live according to His rules may find it costs us friendships, popularity, leisure time, and treasured habits. The payoff may only come in the afterlife.
In fact, one could argue that if following the Christ hasn’t cost you anything, you may not be truly following Him. And what He asks from each one of us may be different. For some, Jesus may ask you to put Him before your family, your paycheck, your love life, your plans for the future, etc. He may ask for chunks of your time. He may ask you to walk away from friends. One thing is certain: He will require change to occur in your life if you are serious about following Him. Why? Because He loves us too much to leave us unchanged. And because He knows He is the only one, the only one, who can control us without destroying us. It will not always be easy but it will be worth it. Why do you hesitate?
Like the young man who told Jesus he would follow Him after he buried his father, Jesus would not accept the delay (v. 22). It’s interesting to note the young man called Jesus “Lord”. Earlier in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus claimed that not everyone who calls Him Lord would enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 7:21). Any person who is puts off following the Christ may well forfeit their soul. That’s a pretty steep price to pay. Jesus’ direct challenge forces us to ask ourselves about our own priorities in following Him. I know what mine are. How about you? Either way, there is a cost. Are you willing to pay now or later? The world is counting on us.