Following Jesus

Dear Members and Friends of IBCZ,

Last Sunday we considered what it means to follow Jesus in our daily life.  It’s interesting that both the first words (Mk. 1:17) and the last words (Jn. 21:22) Jesus spoke to Peter were, “Follow Me.”  The implication is that following Jesus is a lifelong journey of growing in faith, Christlikeness, and obedience.

As we saw, the call of Jesus to follow Him is both demanding and rewarding.  It is demanding, for as Jesus Himself said (Mt. 16:24), “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”  So to follow Jesus we must die to sin and self-centered desires to follow Jesus and His will for our lives.  But following Jesus is also rewarding, for Jesus said in the next verse, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”  Jesus invites us to follow Him into the fullness of life now and eternal life in the age to come.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor and theologian who was executed in a concentration camp for his opposition to the Nazi regime.  In his classic book The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer highlights these two contrasts of following Jesus – demands and rewards – by using the term “costly grace.”  This is what he wrote:

“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: ‘you were bought at a price’ (I Cor. 6:20; 7:23), 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.”

How gracious of God for inviting us to follow Him and to experience the fullness of life through Christ and His death for us.  No matter what it may cost us to follow Jesus in all the aspects of our lives, it cost God far more!  So let us follow Jesus wholeheartedly, with gratitude and joy.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Bob

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