13: The Cost of Discipleship – Hit the Mark

Counting the costFrom that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. John 6:66

To outward appearances this was a crushing rejection – the defection of a multitude of disciples. Only a day prior these same defectors were intent on making Him the king of the nation. Their enthusiasm had never been higher as they saw in Him the potential to fulfil all their dreams and desires. Now they turned their backs on Jesus and walked away.

What happened? The answer is found in John 6.

The chapter begins with the feeding of the five thousand. From so small so much was produced. Those sitting in attendance saw in this miracle more proof that Jesus could meet their physical needs. The fear of want would be forever removed with Him as their leader.

They were convinced that now was the time to act. Jesus’ humility should not stand as an obstacle to the obvious. The word spread that if He wouldn’t, they would proclaim Him king.

When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone. John 6:15

The disciples who shared in the planning to make Jesus king were thwarted in their attempt. Stinging from the reality check Jesus provided, the dejected disciples set out on the sea as Christ commanded them.

Adding trouble to disappointment they were faced with a ferocious storm threatening to take their lives in an instant. After hours of doing everything they could possibly do to stay alive, they looked through the storm to see Jesus walking on the water!

Their Master and their Lord had now shown that He was also Master over the very elements of life. He could control everything that life could throw their way. No circumstance was too daunting. No crisis was too overwhelming.

The next day, after hearing the disciple’s first-hand report of the night on the sea, a larger group, with more fuel for their ambitions take up their courtship of Jesus. They must have Him as their King. They could again be the head and not the tail. Prosperity was within their grasp. Finding Jesus in the synagogue they ask what they already know, “Rabbi, when camest thou hither?”

I imagine Jesus gazing over the eager crowd. With His unmatchable love He knows that their short-sighted, selfish ambitions would unfit them for His kingdom. The natural desires of the heart, including the desire for supremacy, is alien to Him. Unless their hearts are changed their souls will be lost. His response to the unspoken desires of the crowd will be the determining factor for the futures of many.

Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” John 6:26, 27

The evidence suggest that this response along with Jesus’s unvarnished explanation of the choice before them was too much for many to accept. It was both shocking and disappointing to them. It shed a bright light on the deep recesses of their motives. It revealed the cost of discipleship.

He offered them His life as their only hope. He would have to be to them their all in all – the food of life that they would depend on for living. Before them lay a road of humility and self-denial, but they failed to perceive that its destination was a heavenly address. For many it was a road they were unwilling to travel.

Nothing in the cost of discipleship has changed all of these thousands of years later. The demand is the same – our lives of sin and woe for His life of love and liberty. The laying down of our short-sighted plans in exchange for His eternal destiny for us. The trading of a life of existence for a life of significance and divine purpose. It really is a good deal.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. Luke 9:24

Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:

  • Since salvation is free, what, if anything, is the cost of discipleship?
  • Describe a person who has accepted the cost of discipleship.
  • Is it an accurate statement that the life of a true disciple is a hard life? Explain your answer.
  • Is it an accurate statement that the life of a true disciple is filled with blessings that usually include prosperity? Explain your answer.
  • John 6: 53 quotes Jesus as saying, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” What does this mean to you?
  • Luke 9:24 quotes Jesus as saying, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” What does that mean to you?

We close this week and this quarter’s topic with the reassuring words of Jesus. Always sensitive to the frailty of man He pledges by promises that never can be broken that the cost is well worth the price:

Jesus said, “Mark my words, no one who sacrifices house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, land—whatever—because of me and the Message will lose out. They’ll get it all back, but multiplied many times in homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land—but also in troubles. And then the bonus of eternal life! This is once again the Great Reversal: Many who are first will end up last, and the last first.” Mark 10:29-31 The Message

Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!






13: The Cost of Discipleship – Hit the Mark — 6 Comments

  1. It seems to me that we probably have a much easier time with what Jesus said about the bread of life, than the first century Jew did, for to them it violated Mosaic law. Even those in the inner circle had trouble with it but stayed anyway, “Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’ But Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

    Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’” (Jn 6:67-69 NKJV). I think the difference was in the level of commitment. I am fairly convinced that none of His disciples understood His mission or the plan of salvation before the cross, so to me it wasn’t a matter of theology, or how one is saved, but rather it was a matter of believing that Jesus was the Messiah and being committed in spite of what was said.

    If we consider it from a purely theological point of view and realize that the disciples couldn’t see beyond the literal to the spiritual then we might be able to understand why so many of them left. I think that we as Seventh-day Adventists need to humbly acknowledge that we quite often don’t see things as we should either and have trouble seeing past the literal to the spiritual, quite often the same as the disciples. Even though to me that is true, I try to be very cautious about what I believe, and realize that there are a lot of things in scripture that are very literal and that I need to see those things that way while I remain sensitive to metaphor and symbolism.

    • Hi Tyler, I like the clarity Ellen White brings to this. From Desire of Ages pg 391

      "Christ had spoken a sacred, eternal truth regarding the relation between Himself and His followers. He knew the character of those who claimed to be His disciples, and His words tested their faith. He declared that they were to believe and act upon His teaching. All who received Him would partake of His nature, and be conformed to His character. This involved the relinquishment of their cherished ambitions. It required the complete surrender of themselves to Jesus. They were called to become self-sacrificing, meek and lowly in heart. They must walk in the narrow path traveled by the Man of Calvary, if they would share in the gift of life and the glory of heaven.

      The test was too great. The enthusiasm of those who had sought to take Him by force and make Him king grew cold. This discourse in the synagogue, they declared, had opened their eyes. Now they were undeceived. In their minds His words were a direct confession that He was not the Messiah, and that no earthly rewards were to be realized from connection with Him. They had welcomed His miracle-working power; they were eager to be freed from disease and suffering; but they would not come into sympathy with His self-sacrificing life. They cared not for the mysterious spiritual kingdom of which He spoke. The insincere, the selfish, who had sought Him, no longer desired Him. If He would not devote His power and influence to obtaining their freedom from the Romans, they would have nothing to do with Him."

  2. Moderator's note: Please use full names when commenting.]

    The cost of being a disciple is not that cheap and easy. Its a life time committment, as Jesus said, take up the cross and follow me.

    How many are willing to respond to this high calling? There are two folds to this, firstly the response and secondly the committment ( faith and duty) to abide by his word and commandment.

    Lets not be like some of the disciples that no longer walk wih Him.From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. John 6:66.

    It is my pray that we will continue to walk in His sight untill He comes in glory to pronounce to us well done thou good and faithful servant, enter thou joy of the Lord.

    • Must I be carried to the skies in flowery beds of ease
      while others fought to win the prize
      and sailed through bloody seas,
      no there is a cross for you and a cross for me.

      All cross signifies death therefore our cross must signify death. It can be both physical as well as spiritual death. Romans 12:1-2. Every day we live we must live with the thought that today might be my last. Me personally or the people of God might be attack and this might be our last. But their is a better resurrection.

  3. [Moderators Note: Please use your Christian name and surname when commenting.]

    God Has offer us his son and he his saying to us in this lesson, do not focused on the materialistic stuff just put your trust in me and I will bless you according to what I think you can manage. God Knew before Adam sin man king could not make without his redemptive Gift. There is absolutely nothing in this world that will save us but been a true witness of the Gospel.

  4. What matters is the cost benefit analysis. We sometimes think that the cost of discipleship is expensive but when we reach heaven and remember persecutions we suffered in earth we'll realise that cost of discipleship is cheap in comparison with new heaven and earth.


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