In all of life – personal, business, social, vocational, medical, whatever – we are always called upon to make cost/benefit decisions. How much will this cost me, in money, time, energy, etc., and what are the benefits?
Anyone who had contact with Jesus had to make cost/benefit decisions. Peter, James and John were faced with that when Jesus called them to leave their nets and follow him. But later, when he was arrested his closest disciples fled and shortly after Peter denied knowing him. At that time they felt that the costs outweighed the benefits of knowing him. The resurrection changed all of that and his disciples became so convinced that the benefits outweighed the costs that they were willing to die for him.
The early evangelists and writers of the NT understood that people are always going to raise the cost/benefits question. Consequently, their message about the risen Christ always included a “therefore” – how responding to the gospel would impact our lives. How it would benefit us and what it would cost.
For example, they spoke about benefits. One is peace. Paul wrote in Romans 4:25-5:1, He was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. Therefore, … we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And in Romans 8:1 he said: There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Peace, reconciliation with God, no condemnation – these are some of the benefits.
What will it cost us to accept the crucified, risen Lord? Hear what Peter told the people in Jerusalem in Acts 3: You killed the Prince of Life, whom God raised from the dead … Therefore, repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away and times of refreshing might come.”
Also, hear Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15, after he has spoken of the resurrection: Therefore, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Yes, it will cost us something to accept the living Christ. It calls for repentance and for steadfast service and more but there are benefits attached – forgiveness … times of refreshing and the satisfaction of knowing that our labor is not in vain.
We come to this table to remember both what it cost the Lord and what it costs us to receive the great benefits he offers. Jesus paid the price willingly because it was worth it to him. How much is it worth to us?