1. Text: Mt. 19:16–22.
  2. The young man in Mt. 19:16–22 “went away sorrowful” because he was unwilling to pay the price of discipleship — he said he wanted eternal life (v.16), but as it turned out, there was something more important to him than that.
  3. Jesus does not ask every disciple to do what he asked this young man to do, but if Jesus tested you and me at our most vulnerable points, would we do any better?

I. The Cost of Discipleship

  1. Jesus wants not admirers or fans, but disciples — Ac. 11:26.
  2. Discipleship is rewarding, but it is costly — and Jesus said we must “count the cost” (Lk. 14:25–33).
  3. We should not be surprised that there is a cost to be counted — love is always costly.
  4. If the cost of discipleship seems high, we also need to consider the cost of non-discipleship. Cf. Mt. 16:26.
  5. How soberly have we considered what is involved in being a disciple of Jesus Christ? Are our eyes wide-open? What will be the difficulty? Am I willing to meet the test? What will be the sacrifices? Am I willing to pay the price?
  6. The right time to count the cost of discipleship is before we commit ourselves to Christ.

II. Do We Understand?

  1. Do we understand what “follow Me” (Mt. 4:19) might require of us? 
    1. We will not be following Jesus physically from place to place as His first disciples did, but spiritually, we must go wherever He leads us.
    2. We must not pick and choose which parts of Jesus’ example we are going to emulate, and dismiss the parts that we think are “unrealistic.”
    3. Ultimately, to follow Jesus is to go with Him to the cross — Mk. 8:34,35.
  2. Do we understand what unconditional commitment means? 
    1. It is not merely a part of our time or resources that Jesus wants, but our very selves — 2 Cor. 8:5.
    2. In essence, we sign a “blank contract” with Jesus Christ — and He fills in the details as life unfolds.
    3. Strictly speaking, we cannot “count the cost” of discipleship, there is no way we can know the cost will be, in terms of specifics — but we can consider the far-reaching nature of an unconditional commitment and determine whether we are willing to make such a commitment or not.
  3. Do we understand the concept of repentance?
    1. Repentance will not be easy — we are not “good people” who simply need a little polishing up.
    2. Repentance will be an ongoing work for the rest of our lives.
  4. Do we understand the importance of sacrifice?
    1. We must be prepared to give the Lord more than what “costs us nothing” — 2 Sam. 24:24.
    2. If there is anything we hold so tightly that we wouldn’t give it up, that thing is an idol that will cost us our souls.
    3. “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it’ ” (Mk. 8:34,35).
  5. Do we understand that FAITH means TRUST — e.g. 2 Tim. 1:12.
    1. Saving faith is not just intellectual belief but confidence in God Himself.
    2. Trust that God’s way will always be best.
    3. Willing to go toward God by any path.
    4. Is it really God we seek . . . or some particular path toward God?


  1. Commitments are serious business — Eccl. 5:1–7.
  2. When the cost of discipleship turns out to be higher than we imagined — and keeping our commitment becomes hard — what should we do? 
    1. We should go back and remember that we counted the cost before we obeyed the gospel.
    2. We must remember the reasons why we decided to make the commitment.
    3. Those reasons are still valid, and we must hold on to them — Psa. 15:4.
  3. When we contemplate obeying the gospel, we cannot know what the future holds.
    1. God does not give us a “road map” but a “compass.”
    2. The only thing we’re in control of is our own decision: our commitment to Christ.
  4. Are we willing to make a totally unconditional commitment to Christ — and then keep the promise even if it kills us? 
    1. Are there any limits to our submission to Christ’s authority?
    2. Are there any conditions or fine print in our contract with the Lord?
    3. Is there anything we wouldn’t do if following Christ required us to do that?
  5. The serious disciple is one who answered these questions — decisively — before he made his commitment.
  6. If all we can say is “maybe,” we’re not ready to follow Christ.
  7. Are you prepared to say what Paul said, that he only wanted Christ to be glorified in his body — no matter what the specifics might be? Cf. Phil. 1:20.
  8. In the end, it is only love that will move us to make this kind of commitment. 
    1. “I gave My life for thee, what hast thou giv’n for Me?”
    2. “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:14,15).

Gary Henry — +

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