The Cost of Discipleship
Prayer for the Persecuted Church Sunday
Pastor T. J. Hallock
January 12, 2003
Mehdi Dibaj, an imprisoned Christian in Iran, wrote, "I have always envied those Christians who were martyred for Christ Jesus our Lord. What a privilege to live for our Lord and to die for Him as well. I am filled to overflowing with joy; I am not only satisfied to be in prison... but am ready to give my life for the sake of Jesus Christ." Not long after writing those words in 1994 Brother Dibaj was martyred for Jesus Christ.
What separates Mehdi Dibaj and thousands of other believers around the world from the rich young ruler Jesus encountered in Mark 10 is their willingness to pay the cost of discipleship. They have unconditionally surrendered everything to Jesus, even their very lives.
If the prize of discipleship is abundant and eternal life, the cost of discipleship is willing and joyful death. In Matthew 16:24-25 Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." In John 3:3 He told the Pharisee Nicodemus, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." And in Galatians 2:20 Paul wrote, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."
Mehdi Dibaj joyfully paid the cost of discipleship because Brother Dibaj knew no greater love than the love he had with Jesus and held no greater hope than the living hope he possessed through Jesus. The rich young ruler understood discipleship's cost but he was unwilling to pay it. He had a love higher than any love he might have had for Jesus. He had placed his ultimate hope in something he believed to be greater than Jesus was. His highest love and ultimate hope were in his wealth. We know that because the moment Jesus told him that the only thing he lacked in order to hav ...
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