The person who has influenced my walk with Christ more than any other human is Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His story is a challenge and his words a massive inspiration. When I first read the Cost of Discipleship, his seminal work, in 2005, I was rocked! It really informed and ultimately formed my vision of Christ’s Discipleship in my life. A Biblical vision for MY discipleship led to a Biblical vision for OTHER’S discipleship.
Two of the most important quotes from The Cost of Discipleship:
“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
―Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”
―Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
15 Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!” 16 Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. 17 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.”
- Jesus is still having dinner at the home of the ‘Ruler of The Pharisees’
- The man was desiring to be at the ‘resurrection of the righteous’
- Jesus is explaining how you get there
18 But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
- These people are considered guests, they have already been invited
- They begin to back out of their previous commitment
- I can relate, I made some excuses for a couple of years…
- The excuses are thing that make sense to this world’s view of what matters
- Important things like working, stewardship of investments & a marriage
21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’
- The Master is God (Banquet in the Kingdom of God)
- This is not a story about some guy having a dinner
- In context of everything that’s been happening so far and going forward in Luke
- God is emotional / because the people who had said they were coming, bailed
- Do they realize what they have been offered and are now taking for granted?
22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. 24 For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’”
- This is an expression of God’s grace, He has room for all who will come to Him
- God kingdom is not entered by talk, it takes action
- If the invitation is not accepted on God’s terms, the invite is not left open
This is Christ declaring that the invitation of salvation is not something to treat lightly
25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, 26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.
- The scene has changed, and Christ continues tying discipleship to the Kingdom
- The terms of His ‘Invitation’ are determined by Him: (His discipleship)
- Relationally Jesus is to be primary, by comparison we hate everyone else
27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.
- Jesus cannot be more direct, personal sacrifice is required
- No one can do it for you, you must take ownership of your discipleship
- Jesus will make no compromise, He sets the conditions for His discipleship
28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? 29 Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. 30 They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’
- The nature of Christ’s Discipleship must be ‘whole hearted’ / ‘all in’ / ‘sold out’
- The only way to get all in is to consider what it takes to be all in
- Incomplete Discipleship is ‘Foolishness’ (why everyone laughs)
31 “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? 32 And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away.
- When faced with the reality of the situation wisdom calls for surrender
- Asking for terms of peace with Christ amounts to surrendering your life
33 So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.
- The cost of Christ’s discipleship is everything we have
- You must be willing to give up what Christ calls you to give, nothing less
- The idea of ‘turning my life over to Jesus’ is Biblical Salvation
34 “Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? 35 Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”
- Salt has a purpose, if it does not fulfill it’s purpose it’s not salt.
- Christ’s call to salvation is the call to His discipleship, the purpose of every Christian is Discipleship
- Without discipleship there is no salvation: Christ’s discipleship = salvation
- Christ’s Discipleship requires costs to be paid, are you willing to pay them?
The 1st cost of Christ’s discipleship is obedience to Christ’s calling; without excuse.
The 2nd cost of Christ’s discipleship is making your relationship with Him come first.
The 3rd cost of Christ’s discipleship is taking sole responsibility for your discipleship.
The 4th cost of Christ’s discipleship is the willingness to relinquish all possessions.
Without considering the costs of Christ’s discipleship you can’t give yourself fully to it.
Christ’s discipleship only comes at these costs; anything less is rejected by God.
The Biblical Gospel of Jesus Christ is one of ‘Costly Grace’. God’s Grace is worth it!
Do you rationalize or repent regarding excuses to avoid Christ’s call to discipleship?
What relationships have you placed above your relationship with Christ? Why?
How might you take more ownership of your discipleship? (Motivation or Execution)
Where are you in the process of ‘counting the costs’ of Christ’s discipleship?
ADDITIONAL STUDY: 2nd Timothy 3:1 – 4:8