Justin Tucker, LHBC Worship Pastor
23 Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it. 25 For what does it benefit someone if he gains the whole world, and yet loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and that of the Father and the holy angels. 27 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
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.
Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be protected from the world, and not thrown to the dogs. It is therefore the living word, the Word of God, which he speaks as it pleases him. Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus. It comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was an anti-Nazi theologian and pastor during World War II. His book The Cost of Discipleship is one of the hardest and rewarding books that I have ever read. Bonhoeffer was born in 1906 in Germany and began his journey in church leadership during the rise of the Nazi regime. After obtaining his doctorate in theology and working in churches abroad, Bonhoeffer became a priest and lecturer in Berlin at the age of twenty-five.
Hitler’s rise to power two years later marked a turning point in Bonhoeffer’s life. Despite the cost, Bonhoeffer continued to speak out against the Hitler. Frustrated by the unwillingness of church leaders to oppose Hitler’s anti-Semitism, Bonhoeffer created the Confessing Church. He was eventually censored by the Reich and not allowed to teach and preach publicly. The church that he had helped start even began to silence him due to fear of backlash from the Nazi government. Having lost his church, Bonhoeffer briefly sought asylum in the United States but later returned to Germany because he felt that he couldn’t abandon his country when they needed the truth of the Gospel.
Ultimately, Bonhoeffer was arrested for his involvement in helping Jews flee the country. Still, he continued to teach with the help of guards who smuggled out his writing, until he was transferred to a concentration camp where he was sentenced to death. He was hanged in April 1945, just one month before Germany surrendered and the concentration camp he was in was liberated.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s story is a beautiful depiction of what Jesus was talking about in Luke 9. In his obedience to the charge of taking up his cross daily and following Jesus, Bonhoeffer lived a life for the sake of Jesus and not for himself. He gladly took on the burden of shame and reproach that the world would heap on him. He was silenced by the government and then his own church. He was arrested for helping others escape the Nazi regime and was then ultimately lost his life. Following Jesus doesn’t just mean that we will fill a seat on Sunday or listen to Christian radio, but it is a challenge to have our entire existence determined by and patterned after the life of Jesus. We have to be willing to give up our lives in obedience to Christ in the present to experience the future gain of living in Glory with Jesus for all eternity. To do this we have to realize that what is gained in Christ far outweighs what is lost for Christ. So how do we do that in practicality? When the world hates us…we love them. When the world ridicules us…we pray for them. When we see something wrong happening…we address it in a spirit of love and humility. We have to respond in the way that the world doesn’t expect us to respond. We respond in compassion. We respond full of grace and seasoned with salt. Grace came at a high cost to God, it cost Jesus’ life. Grace still remains at a high cost to us, it costs us our lives to live like Jesus.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Father, as I follow Jesus daily, help me to be more like Him. Help me to decrease and Him to increase. Pour Your Spirit out upon me and fill me with wisdom and discernment. Help me to see people as you see them. Teach me to put aside the things of this world today and to live for the eternal things that come. Thank you for loving me and paying such a tremendous cost for me. Guide and direct me to be more like Christ. In Jesus’ name, I ask all these things. Amen.
MEMORY VERSE FOR THE WEEK:
1 Corinthians 15:56-57-56
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.