by Robert Jacobs
As some of you may have seen, the theme for the 2018 Living Hope Celebration Banquet is “He is Worthy.” A powerful statement about the worth of Christ, the theme highlights the incomparable praiseworthiness of Jesus and, in turn, the immense cost of His sacrifice. As I spent time meditating on the worthiness of Christ and the great price of salvation, I could not help but also think about the cost of following Jesus.
Now, I’m not saying that we must pay for our salvation through good works or the like. Scripture makes it clear that salvation is a “free gift of God” (Rom 6:23). Yet repeatedly throughout the gospels, Jesus shows us that there is a great cost to following Him. In his book The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes following Christ as an endless battle: “When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.”
When I was younger in my faith, I would have said that Bonhoeffer was simply exaggerating, that this quote was merely a byproduct of living in the oppressive environment of World War II Germany. However, as I have grown with Christ, I have found that when we truly follow Him we will indeed experience great struggle. Yet in this struggle, we can all resoundingly cry, He is Worthy!
This is precisely what we see in John 9 through the healing of the man born blind. In the first part of the chapter, Jesus heals a man who was “blind from birth” (John 9:1). After he is healed, a great controversy forms around the man. Debating about where the power for such a miracle could come from, the Pharisees question the man over and over about what happened. Each time he is asked, the man testified that Jesus was the one who healed him.
Frustrated by this response, the Pharisees tracked down the man’s parents to ask if he was indeed born blind and, if so, who healed him. Refusing to testify about what Jesus had done for their son, the parents simply replied, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself” (John 9:21-22). John tells us that the reason they refused to testify about Jesus was because doing so would come with a great cost, being kicked out of the synagogue. Refusing to deny Jesus himself, the man continued to tell them what Jesus had done for him until he suffered the fate that his parents feared (John 9:34).
After hearing that the man had been put out of the synagogue for testifying about Him, Jesus sought him out and asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” To which the man replied that he did, worshiping Jesus in that very moment.
The conclusion of this story always moves me when I read it. After losing arguably one of the most important connections in his life—his place in the synagogue—for testifying to all that Jesus had done for him, the man still sees Jesus as completely worthy of worship. The question for us is do we see Jesus as worthy?
I know that most of us would be shocked if someone asked us if we thought Jesus was worthy. We might even be a little insulted by the question. But when was the last time you testified to how Jesus transformed your life? Have you spoken about Jesus even when it could have cost you everything? You may say that he is worthy, but do your actions—like those of the man born blind— line up with that statement?
As you read over John 9 yourself (and I would suggest that you do), think about what Jesus has done for you and how you can testify about him. Be forewarned though, following Jesus is a costly endeavor. Yet despite this high cost, He is still immeasurably worthy.