The Cost of Discipleship
5:1 "And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he
was set, his disciples came unto him: "When Jesus had walked in the
plain there had been many to follow him as we read in Matt. 4:25 "And
there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond
Jordan." There are many who are willing to follow Jesus as long as the
way is easy and there are no obstacles to overcome. What distinguishes
the disciples is their willingness to climb the mountain to hear what
Jesus had to say and to worship him and to serve him. There is a cost
to discipleship. This is illustrated in the following passage: Lk.
14:27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot
be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth
not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to
finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not
able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This
man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going
to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth
whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him
with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way
off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So
likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he
cannot be my disciple."
order to be a true disciple of Jesus and not just a nominal one, there
is a price that we must be willing to pay. We look at the following
principles of the cost of discipleship:
1. We must determine whom we are going to
serve. Matt. 6:24 "No man can serve two masters: for either he will
hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and
despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." In our pursuit of
making a living and providing for the needs of our family, will we put
earthly mammon ahead of the service of God or will we put serving God
ahead of earthly mammon. No one can answer this question for us. Yet
it is key to whether we are truly going to be the disciple of Christ.
2. What is going to be our priority in life?:
Matt. 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you." God knows we have needs
and he has promised us that if we put him first, he will see that we
have our needs. There truly is no reason why we cannot put the Lord
first in our lives.
3. There are truly no excuses not to honor and
serve the Lord: Lk.14:16 "Then said he unto him, A certain man made a
great supper, and bade many: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to
say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18 And
they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him,
I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray
thee have me excused. 19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of
oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And
another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 21 So
that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of
the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the
streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the
maimed, and the halt, and the blind." While we are prone to make many
excuses, such as buying a piece of land, proving some oxen, marrying a
wife, etc., yet they are just excuses. None are truly more important
than honoring and serving the Lord.
4. We should expect hardships if we are to be
the Lord's disciples: Lk. 9:57 "And it came to pass, that, as they went
in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee
whithersoever thou goest. 58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes,
and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to
lay his head." Are we willing to have no certain dwelling place in
order to serve the Lord?
5. Being a disciple of the Lord means that we
may have to make some hard emotional decisions: Lk. 9:59 "And he said
unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and
bury my father. 60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead:
but go thou and preach the kingdom of God." If your father had passed
away, would you be willing to allow someone else to take care of his
burial in order to go and preach the gospel at the direction of the
Lord? We will if we are serious about being the disciple of the Lord.
6. Not only are we to put a priority of service
to the Lord, but also a priority of time must be devoted to the Lord if
we are to be his disciple: Lk. 9:61 And another also said, Lord, I will
follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at
my house. 62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the
plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
7. In addition, we must put a priority of love
to the Lord if we are to be his disciples: Lk. 14:25 "And there went
great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any
man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and
children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he
cannot be my disciple." We must love the Lord more than we love anyone
else in this life in order to be his disciple.
8. Finally, we must hold to the very principles
of truth of the grace of Christ if we are to be his disciples: John 6:60
"Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This
is an hard saying; who can hear it? 61 When Jesus knew in himself that
his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was
before? 63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth
nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are
life. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from
the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray
him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come
unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66 From that time
many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him."
Matt. 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven." In this verse and the nine that follow, we have
what is commonly called the "beatitudes." Some had said that there are
nine blessings presented in this passage, but in reality, there are
eighteen as there is a double blessing in each one.
We ask ourselves, what does it mean to be "poor in spirit?"
There are many who are poor in this world's goods. Yet being poor in
this world's goods does not make you poor in spirit. Also, being rich
in this world's goods does not disqualify you from being poor in
spirit. The following verses of scripture give us light on what it
means to be poor in spirit:
1. Eph. 3:8 "Unto me, who am less than the
least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the
Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." How do we value
ourselves? If we feel to be the very least of all saints, then truly we
value ourselves as being poor in spirit.
2. Lk. 9:48 "And said unto them, Whosoever
shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall
receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you
all, the same shall be great." How do we value ourselves among the
deeds and accomplishments of others in a spiritual sense? Truly if we
believe ourselves to be least then we are poor in spirit.
3. 1 Cor. 15:9 "For I am the least of the
apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted
the church of God." How do we value our worthiness in serving in the
office that God has given us? If we value ourselves to be the least,
then we are poor in spirit.
4. Lk. 18:10 "Two men went up into the temple
to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee
stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as
other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this
publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I
possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so
much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be
merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house
justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself
shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." How do
we value ourselves before a just and holy God? If we feel ourselves to
be sinners condemned by our sins and not worthy of standing in the
judgment of God, but only crying out for God's mercy, then are we poor
The scripture says that we are blessed to be poor in
spirit. The man of nature is full of pride. He is proud of his
accomplishments and thinks himself to be better than others. Yet, when
someone has been born of the spirit of God he begins to see himself as
he really is and begins to see the total depravity of his own nature.
Isaiah in his experience of grace saw himself this way: Is. 6:5 "Then
said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips,
and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have
seen the King, the LORD of hosts." The only ones who will ever see
themselves as having no spiritually redeeming qualities and see
themselves as totally bankrupt of righteousness before a just and holy
God are those that have been born of the Spirit of God. We are indeed
blessed to be poor in Spirit.
Next, we are blessed a second time because we are blessed to
be poor in Spirit. We are blessed to have the kingdom of heaven. The
blessing is not that we will someday have the kingdom of God, but the
blessing is that "theirs is the kingdom of heaven." No
one is currently inhabiting the kingdom of heaven, but those who are
poor in spirit. When a person is lifted up in pride he is either never
been a part of the kingdom of heaven or else he has departed from the
kingdom of heaven. As a side principle, this also tells us that the
kingdom of heaven is not the glory world. All of God's elect will be a
part of the glory world, but only those who are poor in spirit have part
in the kingdom of heaven here in time.
Some of the ways we are blessed being poor in spirit in the
kingdom of heaven are set forth in the following scriptures:
1. Matt. 11:5 "The blind receive their sight,
and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead
are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them."
2. Lk. 4:18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath
sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the
captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them
that are bruised."
3. Lk. 6:20 "And he lifted up his eyes on his
disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of
4. Lk. 7:22 "Then Jesus answering said unto
them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how
that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf
hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached."
5. 2 Cor. 6:10 "As sorrowful, yet alway
rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet
possessing all things."
Matt. 5:4 "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be
comforted." What are we blessed to mourn about? Mourning over the loss
of a loved one, or mourning over the loss of worldly possession or
mourning over the loss of prestige or worldly honor is not something
that we would consider to be a blessing.
The publican was mourning over the fact that he was a sinner
and was mourning over his sins that had brought the felt wrath of God
upon him: Lk. 18:10 "Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a
Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed
thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are,
extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast
twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the
publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto
heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a
sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather
than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and
he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." Likewise, Isaiah was
mourning over his sinful state in Is. 6:5 "Then said I, Woe is me! for I
am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst
of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD
Similarly, we see Paul mourning over his sinful state in
Rom. 7:24 "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body
of this death?" Only those of God's people who have been born of the
Spirit are able to mourn over their sins. When we are born of the
Spirit of God, God writes his laws in our heart and puts them in our
mind. He sprinkles our heart from an evil conscience and our heart
either condemns us or condemns us not. Thus, a courtroom has been set
up in the heart of those born of the Spirit. It is in this courtroom of
our heart and mind that we see ourselves as hell-deserving sinners and
feel the depravity of our own heart.
We are blessed to see ourselves as sinners and feel the
depravity of our own heart, as this is evidence that we have been born
Furthermore, we receive a second blessing in that we are
comforted while we mourn over our sins. Isaiah speaks of this comfort
in Is. 40:1 "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2 Speak
ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is
accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of
the Lord's hand double for all her sins." Likewise Isaiah experienced
this comfort in his experience of grace in chapter 6: 6 "Then flew one
of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had
taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid it upon my mouth,
and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken
away, and thy sin purged." The live coal is a figure of the sacrificial
suffering of Jesus on the cross for our sins, through which he redeemed
us from our sins. This gospel truth is what brings such comfort to
those who previously had mourned their sinful state.
2 Cor. 1:3 "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who
comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort
them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are
comforted of God." The mourning of our sins is one of the tribulations
through which God comforts us.
Matt. 5:5 "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the
earth." What does it mean to be meek and what is the earth that they
Meek is defined as: mild, i.e. (by impl.) humble. The
blessings of humility or meekness are set forth for us in the following
1. Matt. 11:28 "Come unto me, all ye that
labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke
upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye
shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden
is light." In meekness we are blessed to be yoked with Jesus.
2. Matt. 21:5 "Tell ye the daughter of Sion,
Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a
colt the foal of an ass." In meekness we are blessed to be like Jesus.
3. 1 Pet. 3:1 "Likewise, ye wives, be in
subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they
also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2
While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 3 Whose
adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and
of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the
hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the
ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of
great price." Meekness in the sight of God is of great value.
4. Matt. 18:3 "And said, Verily I say unto you,
Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not
enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble
himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of
heaven. 5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name
receiveth me." In meekness we dwell in the kingdom of heaven.
5. Matt. 23:12 "And whosoever shall exalt
himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be
exalted." God lifts us when we are meek.
6. James 4:6 "But he giveth more grace.
Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the
humble." God gives favor to the meek.
7. 1 Pet. 5:5 "Likewise, ye younger, submit
yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another,
and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth
grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand
of God, that he may exalt you in due time."
The earth that the meek are blessed to inherit is not a
literal earth, for there are many who possess a plot of land on the
literal earth that are anything but meek. However, there in the
description of the kingdom of heaven we find different natural objects
representing spiritual things in the kingdom, such as the sun, moon,
stars, clouds, etc. The land of Canaan was a natural land that the
children of Israel had been promised to possess based on the covenant
that God had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Likewise, there is a
possession that God's people are promised to possess in the spiritual
kingdom of God. That possession is the church and its ordinances and
government. When we humble ourselves as little children and remain
humble we are able to possess this church kingdom and enjoy the
spiritual blessings that God brings upon it.
Matt. 5:6 "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after
righteousness: for they shall be filled."
The hungering and thirsting above must be a spiritual
hungering and thirsting rather than a natural hungering and thirsting.
A natural hungering and thirsting would be for natural food and water,
but a spiritual hungering and thirsting would be after spiritual things
such as righteousness. The natural man is not seeking after
righteousness as the scripture teaches us in Rom. 3:10 "As it is
written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that
understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God." Thus the natural
man has no interest in righteousness or seeking after God.
Hungering and Thirsting are evidences of life. A dead
person does not hunger or thirst. Once life ceases, so does the desire
or ability to hunger or thirst. Spiritual hunger and thirst are
evidences of spiritual life. Only those who have spiritual life are
able to hunger or thirst after spiritual things. Thus, hungering and
thirsting for righteousness are evidences that we have been born of the
spirit and, therefore, have spiritual life. To be born of the spirit is
a great blessing from God and that only God can bring about.
To those who are born of the Spirit and hunger and thirst
after righteousness, the desire for righteousness at first may seem like
a curse rather than a blessing. The reason is that we first see
ourselves condemned by a just and holy God and condemned by his just
laws. Much like the publican who smote upon his breast and cried out
"God be merciful to me a sinner." The publican was hungering and
thirsting for righteousness, but saw himself as a sinner. This
condemnation gave way, however, when he saw himself made righteous
through the shed blood of Jesus.
Similarly, with us, we first see ourselves condemned by the
law, and then we see ourselves justified by the blood of Jesus. This is
a double blessing as we are blessed to have a hungering and thirsting
for righteousness in the new birth, then we are blessed to see ourselves
made righteous through the atoning blood of Christ.
Notes on Matthew 5 Continue