I have been very touched over the past four weeks witnessing Jesus’ encounter with four very different but needy people. His demonstration of love, compassion and grace has been wonderful. God’s grace is ever so precious. It is hard to imagine all that God has done and continues to do for us on a daily basis let alone His amazing grace and mercy when it comes to our salvation. It is all of Him … and nothing of us! Yes, His grace is simply magnificent! There is nothing we can do to gain salvation. It truly is a gift of love and grace! But this grace is a ‘costly grace’!
We come to a section of Scripture today that takes us into a deeper understanding of God’s grace. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his brilliant book, ‘The Cost of Discipleship’, raises an important issue concerning ‘cheap grace’. In Bonhoeffer’s eyes, there were many who thought that this meant that God’s grace could be possessed but nothing need change. Life could go on as if nothing had happened. Yet, Bonhoeffer suggests otherwise: “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, and grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate”.
Luke takes us to a very private scene where Jesus asks His disciples two questions. The first one, “Who do the people say I am?” and secondly, “Who do you say I am?” The people really had no clue and at best saw Jesus as a prophet. Peter answers that Jesus is the Son of God! Jesus notes that Peter had this revealed to him by His Father. Then comes an extraordinary time of sharing and teaching from Jesus. He firstly, shares with His disciples that He will suffer and be put to death. Secondly, He teaches His disciples what it will really cost them to be His disciples. He tells them that His grace does not come cheaply and it will cost every disciple big time. They too are expected to pick up their cross daily and follow Him. This means, they will have to deny self and be just like Jesus! Now this is a great challenge for us modern day disciples. We must not be naïve about the need for repentance and what that really means … turning from a ‘me focused’ life to one that is clearly focused on Jesus and what He has called us to do! It is very costly … let us be sure of this!