One of my summer memories is sleeping late and waking up to watch Bob Barker host The Price is Right. As a kid I did pretty well – no telling how many dinettes, bedroom suites, and cars I could have won if my name had ever been called to Come on Down! With a different schedule it’s been a while since I’ve watched the Price is Right, but I hear that Bob is stepping down after 30+ years.
One of the premises of the popular game show and the inspiration for the title is determining how much a product is worth. It’s a case of television imitating reality – every day we face the same challenge. Is that car worth the payments; are the clothes worth the price tag; is the house worth the mortgage; is the meal worth the tab? Over and over we make decision whether or not the price is right.
Jesus challenges potential disciples to go through the same process. Before you commit to discipleship you have to realize that discipleship, like everything else, comes with a price. Jesus uses the phrase “count the cost.” He says before someone builds a tower he counts the cost so that he will not be ridiculed if he is unable to finish. Or if a king is going into battle he’ll assess his forces and then decide whether or not to engage in battle. The same is true for would-be disciples – before you commit you better count the cost. And the cost is everything: “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Talk about sticker shock!
So, is it worth it? Is the price right? The cost is everything you have, but the reward is everything you desire! After Jesus reveals the price tag he goes on to tell three stories that illustrate the incomparable value of being a disciple. It’s like finding the coin you’ve been frantically searching for; it’s like finding the treasured sheep that’s gone astray; it’s like coming home to a loving and forgiving father. The only people who fail to make the sacrifice are those who fail to see the benefits!
It was missionary and martyr Jim Elliot who once said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." No doubt – the price is right!