Justin Hiebert

Catalyzing Change

It always costs us something

Posted on 08 Jun 2013 in Bible, Christianity, Church, Discipleship, missional theology, Teaching | 2 comments

An example of a cheque.

It always costs something. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve blogged before about how to properly understand the purpose and mission of Jesus (and how it pertains to us as leaders) and I had a conversation yesterday about something similar. The main thrust of the question focused around Mark 2 where Jesus heals a paralyzed man. The thought was, that if Jesus could openly forgive peoples sins (like he does in Mark 2, see also Luke 19) why would he need to die?

Here are three thoughts:

  1. As I hinted at in the earlier posts, what we must keep clear is that Jesus didn’t ‘have to die.’ God chose that method as the mediation for forgiveness (and we will expand this more in the following two points). God could have just as easily said, “When I zap a laser beam from heaven randomly, if it hits you, you’re forgiven.” Or he could have said, “The sign of forgiveness is when a butterfly lands on your nose. No butterfly? No forgiveness.” Because God chose first animal sacrifice and later Jesus, the proper question to ask is, “What does God want us to learn by this method?”
  2. Jesus could forgive because as God, he got to set the rules for how forgiveness of sins worked. In the very beginning God said that to atone for sin a sacrifice had to be offered. In Jesus we get the foreshadowing that the system is about to change. People get forgiven (Mark 2) just by believing in Jesus.
  3. Ultimately God chose the sacrificial model because he wanted his people to know that forgiveness and reconciliation costs something, both to the giver and the receiver. First, it was in the form of animal sacrifice. No one has an endless supply of goats to offer, so the goal in God’s mind was that if people see that, they would want to sin less. Sinning just costs too much (money, goats, etc…). With Jesus, the idea is the same. Our open forgiveness costs something, both to Jesus (his death) and to us. Every time we Jesus followers sin, we lose a little bit of our God-shaped-ness. Every time we sin, our mirror by which we reflect Christ becomes a little bit more tarnished. Eventually the reflection is so dull that we become unusable.

In Jesus we find the complete and ultimate forgiveness of sins but we must not be deceived: it costs something. Jesus wrote to warn us of this (Luke 14) as did Paul, Peter, and James. The road to discipleship in the missional frontier will require us to realize that high cost, receive it graciously and live accordingly. Grace, forgiveness and reconciliation (as Dietrich Bonhoeffer puts it) is never cheap, yet the outcome of a life shaped and transformed by Jesus is worth the cost.


What do you think? How has this challenged or encouraged you? When was one time you realized the cost of following Jesus but knew that it was the right thing to do? Please Enter the Discussion below.

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Justin Hiebert

Leadership Catalyst - Entrepreneur - Coach at JSHiebert Leadership Coaching
I am a Business and Life Coach in both non-profit and for profit settings. I coach leaders, executives, and pastors in areas of vision, clarity, and values. In relationship coaching I focus on healthy and sustainable relationships, and in leadership development roles I catalyze change for individuals and groups to thrive. I also consult churches and organizations on how to train new leaders and create a healthy culture. In addition to that, I am an Anabaptist pastor in the Denver metro area. I specialize on topics that include: missional theology, discipleship, culture and the church in today’s society. I am married to my wonderful wife Elise and we have three kids. I grew up and now work in the United States Mennonite Brethren Church (USMB) and love the people and history of the Mennonite Brethren faith. I am a graduate of Tabor College with a dual degree in Youth Ministry and Christian Leadership, a graduate of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary with a Masters of Divinity, and a Doctoral Student and Bethel Seminary. I also teach college classes in areas of Bible, Communication, and Business.

Latest posts by Justin Hiebert (see all)

  • He knew that the paralyzed man would keep sinning even though he was forgiven. What a gracious, loving, long-suffering God.


    Dear Brother, Thank you so much for this spiritfilled messages to study and to meditate and to reach for others in India, i am Teaching to our Congregations and outreaches here, please share more regularly. Have you been to India to preach? please pray for us, we have much idolatry here and we want to win more souls. Please greet all the saints with you and ask them to pray for India. in Jesus Love, Evangelist Babu.

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