THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP

Scripture Reading:  John 21:18-19

“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”  (John 21:18)

These are the words Jesus spoke to Peter after He had restored him to ministry.  John explains the meaning of Jesus’ words to Peter:  “This He said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God” (v. 19).  The phrase, “stretch out your hands,” was often used by Greek authors and by the early church fathers to indicate crucifixion.  Jesus was telling Peter how he would die — by crucifixion.

According to some of the early church fathers, Peter was crucified upside down.  Eusebius, in his work entitled The Ecclesiastical History, wrote:  “But Peter seems to have preached in Pontus and Galatia and Bithynia and Cappodocia and Asia, to the Jews of the Dispersion, and at last coming to Rome, he was crucified head downward, for so he himself had asked to suffer.”  All of the disciples died a martyrs death.  There is a cost to faithful discipleship.

Jesus spoke these words about the cost of discipleship:  “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23-25).  Peter literally took up his cross and lost his life for Jesus.

While we may never have to lose our lives physically, we must be willing to give ourselves fully to Jesus.  We have to deny our selfish and sinful desires.  We must be willing to sacrifice our comfort and bear whatever is necessary in order for us to be faithful disciples of Jesus.

Jesus’ last words recorded in the Gospel of John are these:  “Follow Me.”  These two simple words describe the call to discipleship.  To follow Jesus is costly, but in the end it is priceless.

Lord Jesus, let me heed your command to follow You.  Let me deny myself, take up my cross and follow You no matter what the cost may be.

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