Is being a disciple of Christ free to us? These verses say that we have to give up everything! That is not cheap! Moreover, He mentions this in the context of things that are normally the most dear to us of all—our flesh-and-blood relatives! There is no greater price a human being can pay than to give up his family, and yes, his own life! That is not cheap! That is not free!
Grace is the most costly thing that has ever been given. It was costly in terms of the life of the very Creator—the God who made everything! And in return, to receive that grace, He demands that we give up our lives. It is not cheap. It is not free.
Then, how can people say it is free? Christ could not have made the cost of our obligation any clearer than He does here. No relationship ties are stronger than blood ties. The saying, "Blood is thicker than water," originated in the Church of England, meaning that blood ties are stronger than the Holy Spirit, symbolized by the water. The English Church recognized that family ties would pull people away from the truth of God. They are that powerful! Grace is not free, not cheap, by any stretch of the imagination!
Jesus then tells us that, in addition, we have to humbly bear any burden that comes upon us as a result of our discipleship, as a result of having received such forgiveness. Sometimes that cost can be very great. His statement is sweeping in terms of its consequences.
Free does not mean "cheap" but that God freely gave it. He was under no constraint. There was no obligation on His part to do what He did. He owes us absolutely nothing for what we have done. Grace is an aspect of His love that has no motive but itself. "God so loved the world that He gave. . ." (John 3:16).
Looking at history, is there anything lovable about mankind? Look at what humanity has done to this earth! Look at what men have done to one another! In the name of "God," men have blown one another to smithereens! If someone did to our property and to our family as we have treated God's property and family, we would have a terribly difficult time extending love. In fact, we might be totally unable to do it! We lack love of that depth. But God freely gives grace, though He is under no obligation whatsoever.