Peter and Paul: Reflections on the Cost of Discipleship
For a while, I’ve been reflecting on the life of Peter. Jesus called him when he was doing fine in the seafood industry. Peter left his livelihood to follow Jesus. Matthew 4:18-20 (see parallel in Mark 1:16-18) says:
18While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
But at the end of his life, as tradition says, he was crucified upside down, because he did not feel worthy to die as Jesus did. (This is in prediction of John 21:18-19). He was called by Jesus, only to be martyred in the end.
So I’m tempted to ask him, “Was it worth it to be a disciple of Jesus?”
I also reflected on the life of the apostle Paul. He was “was advancing in Judaism beyond many of [his] own age among [his] people, so extremely zealous was [he] for the traditions of [his] fathers” (Galatians 1:14). But on his way to Damascus to persecute the believers, God was pleased to reveal his Son to him (v.15). But in the end, Paul was beheaded, as tradition again says.
I ask him as well, “Was it worth it?”
Jesus answers my questions for them. Matthew 10:37-39 says:
37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Emphasis added)
Mark 10:29-30 says:
29Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. (Emphasis added)
If this is the case, then the rewards of discipleship far outweighs the costs.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”1 Indeed, the cost of discipleship is great, but the rewards are infinitely greater. Conversely, the cost of non-discipleship is greater, and the loss is infinitely devastating.
Following Jesus is worth it!
1Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (London: SCM Press, 1964), 79.