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The Cost of Discipleship (John 9)

You may have heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s classic book, “The Cost of Discipleship.” It’s a really good book. He digs into the Sermon on the Mount, and explains what it means to follow Christ as a true disciple – and there is a cost (hence the title of his book).

In chapter 9, John continues to show that Jesus polarized people by His claim to be the “Light of the World” (8:12, 9:5). Some allowed the Light to illuminate the path of spiritual life through belief in Jesus, others were blinded by the light, so appropriately, John opens by introducing a man who was blind from birth.

Verse 2 has always intrigued me:

9:2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Interesting assumption isn’t it? Something has gone wrong, this person is suffering, therefore this person is a bad person, this person did something wrong, or this person’s parents did something wrong, and God is judging him for it.

Do you ever think that way? I think we all do more than we think. Such thinking is antithetical to grace.

Jesus’ response is worth memorizing, Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (9:3). Wow. So here’s the question: Are we willing to suffer physical infirmities, financial hardship, family pain or inconvenience so that “the works of God might be displayed in us?” Such a view completely changes how we see and interpret hardship doesn’t it?

John 9 continues with a story about the blind man, who Jesus healed. While that sounds nice, Jesus healed him on the Sabbath, which was a huge No-No to the Pharisees. After the Pharisees repeatedly question the now seeing blind man about how he received his sight, the man kept telling the Pharisees that he didn’t know who it was that healed him, but that he must be a prophet. He then launches into a super ironic and somewhat comical little speech on how ignorant the Pharisees must be if some random unknown prophet can open his eyes but they, the spiritual leaders of the day, can’t even see that clearly! So they kicked him out of the synagogue.

The man later found Jesus and believed in Him (9:38).

The point is that following Jesus often carries a cost. It cost the blind man his sight for decades until Jesus opened his eyes so that “the works of God could be displayed through him.” And, it cost him his social reputation after being healed.

What cost might come our way today? May we carry it well.

Enjoy Walking with the Savior Today,



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