What is the cost of discipleship? In Matthew 4:18-22, Jesus called 4 of His Disciples and we see the so-called cost of discipleship. “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. 21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. 22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.”
You don’t have to look very far in this passage to see some of what following Jesus might cost. It cost the Disciples, a job, security, career, family ties, respect, etc. If you look at verse 12 John the Baptist is in prison for being a disciple. Following Christ is not always easy. Think of the many believers you may know who have stood up for the sake of Christ and lost family, friends, or even a career. Even though being a disciple of Christ may have its price, I think it would be a lie to say that it is costly.
What would it have cost the Disciples not to follow Christ?
It would have cost far more than a career, just think of what they would have missed out on if they had not followed Christ. They would have had to be content with hearing about the miracles of Christ second hand. They would never have heard the Sermon on the Mount or seen the transfiguration of Christ in person. Peter would not have walked on water, they would not have seen the sea calmed, or Lazarus raised to life.
Just think what they would have missed out on spiritually. Being able to talk with Jesus around a camp fire on the sea of Galilee until the embers slowly died out, listening to Jesus tell of Heaven or the creation of the universe. Imagine missing out on traveling across Judea, casting out devils in the name of the Lord, healing those who came to you, and introducing people to Jesus.
Think of the eternal ramifications. What would compare with eternal life? If they had owned all of the fishing boats in Galilee, it would not compare to any of the blessings of eternity with Christ. What temporal thing do we have that is worth holding onto at eternity’s expense? Think of the honor given to these fishermen. Revelation 21:14 talks about the 12 Apostles having special prominence in the New Jerusalem and even having the foundations of the city named after them. All because they said yes.
What would it have cost others? Think of the tens of thousands of people that would not have heard the message proclaimed by the Apostles in the first century. Think of the millions and even billions of people that throughout history would never have heard of the glorious light of the Gospel, because a few men said no to Christ’s call.
Think of what it would have cost you and me if they said no. I would imagine if you were able to trace your salvation story back far enough there is a good chance that one of the 12 Disciples started the chain of witnesses that lead you to Christ. It would have cost a huge portion of the Scriptures. Think of a Bible void of the 3 Gospels. Without the Disciples our New Testament would probably start with Luke, and end with Jude. Imagine turning from James to Jude and then closing the book because Peter, John and Revelation were never written.
In this passage, Jesus broke the normal pattern of Rabbis. Most traveling teachers would be solicited by parents to teach their children, and the better the Rabbi the harder to gain admittance, similar to getting into a prestigious school today. You would have to be worthy or have good credentials. Jesus reversed the mold, and sought unworthy people so that he could make them worthy vessels to hold His glory.
How about you. Has Jesus called you to follow Him, and you are hesitant? Maybe the reason you do not see Him working and simply hear about the miracles of changed lives or the great works of God is because you are too busy mending your nets of relationships, career, or other dreams, and have never truly counted the cost of undiscipleship. What great things does God want to show you about Himself as He calls, “Follow Me.” Will you answer, have you truly counted the cost?