The Cost of Following Jesus

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.’”—Mark 8:34–38 (NIV)

“How much does it cost?” Some responses might be: “Wow, what a steal,” “That’s way too much,” or “Not worth it!” Whenever we endeavor to purchase something, we become risk analysts because we have to weigh the cost. Is it worth it? Is it necessary? Is it urgent? Is the purchase worth the price tag?

In today’s passage, Jesus shares the price tag of being His disciple, of following Him, and then explains why it’s so worth it! Let’s break it down:

Deny yourself.
The Greek word for deny is aparnēsasthō. It means “to disown, disregard, to refuse or reject.” To deny yourself means to deny your self-lordship, to refuse to recognize yourself as the lord of your life. It’s surrendering lordship of your life over to Him—not in most areas, but in every area and committing every facet of your life to Christ fully, daily.

Take up your cross.
When a criminal carried his cross through the streets, his life was essentially over. Here, Jesus is calling us to think of ourselves as having died to our old selves—to bury all of our worldly desires and dreams, all the plans and agendas we’ve made for ourselves. Why? Because our new life is not about us, it’s all about living for Him, in Him, and by Him. The directive is proclaiming our need to be willing to surrender anything and everything in order to be His disciples.

On the surface, this may not sound like fun, but the undeniable truth of humanity is this: Our ways, paths, and plans are flawed, limited, and often dominated by pride, selfish ambition, and sinful desires. But His plan for us is perfect.

Lose your life for my sake.
This is where the cost analysis comes in: We truly find the life we were created for when we surrender the life we have now to Jesus. As Jim Elliot once said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

How do we lose ourselves? By investing all that we are and have in Him and His gospel; by saying to Jesus, “Lord, here’s my life, home, family, checkbook, career, gifts and talents, brain, heart, hands, feet, mouth, desires, ambitions, and world. It’s all yours. Use it all. Use all of me to glorify Yourself and advance Your kingdom and Your purposes here on earth!”

The cost is essentially lordship of your life. But what do we get? Everything! We get Jesus as Lord, and with that we gain true life now, eternal life in heaven, freedom, purpose and meaning, truth, comfort, wisdom, peace, joy, value, strength, security, hope, and real love!

We must all count the cost. Being His disciple is costly, but so worth it. Are you all in?

Pause: What does it cost to follow Jesus? What does it mean to deny yourself, take up your cross, and lose your life?

Practice: Are there areas in which you have fully surrendered to Him? Lift them up to Him today!

Pray: Jesus, thank You for paying the cost for my sins, for enveloping me with Your costly grace that cost Your life and costs me mine. My life is a price worth paying to know You, follow You, and be ruled by You! Thank You for being Lord of my life. Continue to guide me as I surrender to You and Your will. I love You! Amen.

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.