Salvation has a price. It cost God the Father the life of His only begotten Son! He was the One who required that cost because he valued the only creatures on earth that He made with His own hands and into whom He blew His precious breath. Christ’s incarnation cost Mary her reputation, and for Joseph, the apparent cost was deferred gratification in the consummation of his marriage and perhaps ridicule for being a cuckolded husband.
The whole purpose of Christ’s dying on the cross was to fulfill the desire of His Father to make sure once and for all that all men would have the opportunity and the right to eternal life through acceptance of salvation. Through His obedience, He left His royal home in heaven, divested himself temporarily of immortality, took on human flesh, and paid the cost for human sin by dying on a rugged cross (Philippians 2:6-8). He humbled himself as a babe in the womb of a young virgin and was born into a poor family and raised by a carpenter in a village where few people would care to settle.
To say that he did not grow up in the lap of luxury is an understatement. His earthly father died early, as was customary, since he was the eldest male sibling of His mother’s children, had to help to support the family. The Gospels of Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55-56 point to his vocation as a carpenter and state the names of his brothers: his sisters are also mentioned, but not named. Even after his ascension, Jesus is still paying the cost for mankind’s redemption, having gone to prepare a place for us so that we can be with Him eternally (John 14:1-3). He also continually “[watches] over [His own] word, [making sure] it is fulfilled” (Jeremiah 1:12 NIV) and He is “at the right hand of God, who is making intercession for us” (Romans 8:34 NIV). Moreover, Jesus goes over and above, although He is more than capable of keeping us, by sending the Holy Ghost to be our Resident Protector and Comforter Extraordinaire:
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them”(John 14:16:21 NIV).
He also knew that not everyone would receive this gift readily, therefore, he instructed His disciples before He ascended into heaven that they should:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
2Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:19-20).
He also revealed to them that:
[they would] receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).
Considering that “God commended his love toward us for us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), we should have no doubt that he takes soul winning and discipleship seriously. He has showed us the pattern in the Bible while He worked with His disciples during the course of His earthly ministry. Some of His followers were tough, stubborn, weak, fearful, impulsive and with passions like some of us, but Jesus prayed for them and taught them the word in ways that would help them understand kingdom living and building. He chided them when necessary, saw to it that they rested, showed concern for their daily needs and often encouraged them.
He did it all, so we would understand the cost of discipleship is not cheap because man’s life is worth a whole lot to God. We must be willing to try to invest in others what God has invested in us (although we will never reach His mark). As we have freely received, we must freely give without any complaining. I learned a lesson about going the extra mile to see others saved and live a sanctified life in the book of Mark. In Mark II:3-12 (NIV), some friends of a paralyzed man demonstrate exceptional love for him by using unconventional means to get him to Jesus so that he could receive healing. They tried to press through an extremely large crowd with his bed without success. Realizing that it was almost impossible to get through to the Master, they:
… made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (vv.4-5).
Think about what the men did for the sick man. Although the distance that they travelled to bring the paralytic to where Jesus was, we can glean from the story that they either had to carry or transport him and his litter on a beast of burden. On reaching the site they had to try to push their way through, and after gouging a hole in someone’s roof, they had to pay the owner to cover the cost for repairs -and not to mention the coordinated effort and care to lower him to the floor without causing further damage to his body.
No wonder when Jesus saw their faith, He was moved to forgive the man’s sins and heal his disease. The passage did not mention the man’s faith to diminish the importance of personal faith, but to teach us that we who know about the power of God to cleanse us from unrighteousness should persevere in telling others about Jesus, praying for their salvation, and letting our light shine so that they will come to repentance.
God has not given us a choice in the matter of evangelism and discipleship. WE MUST WORK WHILE IT IS DAY. If the men who brought the paralyzed man to Jesus had not worked while they had daylight to get through the roof, he would not have been healed. We must also seize every opportunity to labor for souls because “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous availeth much” (James 5:16). Our heavenly Father takes note when we intercede for loved ones, coworkers, bosses, students, teachers, enemies and all our neighbors. He is pleased when we stay in the trenches with the fledgling believer and we strengthen our fellow Christians when they are weak.
Don’t give up on an unbeliever! Don’t abandon your Christian brother or sister who has slipped. Keep digging until there’s an opening to Jesus. If the cost was little or nothing, we would lose sight of how much God loves us. Salvation is not cheap because souls are valuable to God. It will cost us to care but it is worth every bit of sacrifice to walk with another on their Christian journey.