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Following Jesus Part 3

The path to follow Mark 8:34-5


In Part 2 we covered what Jesus expects from his followers.

Today we look at the path Jesus has set for his followers.


Mark 8:34-35 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it."


If we want to be Jesus’ disciple, we must

(1) deny self,

(2) take up our cross,

(3) follow Jesus.

(4) Be prepared to lose our life.


Let us have a closer look at this path.

1. Deny self

Denying self requires us to give up anything that we would want or seek that would hinder our doing the will of God. This does not mean that, if we want something, it is necessarily wrong. It means we must demote our wants and desires down from the throne of our wills and place Jesus and His will as the governing priority in our lives.

There is room in each life for only one master (Matt. 6:19-24). If God is to rule in our lives, then our will must be made subject to His. We must be willing to give up anything in life in order to please God.


2. Take up your cross and 3. follow Jesus

Many think this means bearing burdens and suffering hardships for the Lord. Surely such hardships will at times be required, but there is a fuller meaning if we consider the context.

(a) What is a cross for? It was not just a burden to be borne. Far more than that, it was an instrument of death and total sacrifice. Many 19th century missionaries when preparing to embark for the mission field packed their belongings not in trunk but rather a coffin! They had already surrendered their lives to God.

(b) Jesus said take up our cross and follow Him. He bore a cross, and we must bear our cross and follow Him. But where was He going with His cross? He had just said He was going to die.

(c) In the next verse Jesus said we must give our lives for Him.

(d) Then He asked what good our lives would be to us, if we are unacceptable at the judgment.

So, "taking up your cross" suggests giving your whole life to God, as Jesus was about to give His life for us. This involves bearing burdens, but it is deeper than that. It is a total dedication of life.

Our whole life is to be given to His service in anything He says. This will lead us to willingly deny self. Following Him then requires us to live as He lived His life.

Luke adds "take up your cross daily" (Luke 9:23). There is a sense in which Christians must give their lives to God every day. This is not necessarily a physical death as Jesus died for us (though such might be required), but a daily total sacrifice of self to do the will of Jesus.

We are called to be living sacrifices [1].

Whatever He wants with my life is what must be done with it. What I want no longer matters, but I give myself for Him, just as He gave Himself for us despite the fact His human nature would naturally recoil at the thought of the cross.


4. Lose your life for Jesus

Mark 8:35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it."

Verse 35 then helps us understand Jesus' point. If a person holds his life so dear to himself that he wants to use it only to please himself, do his own will, and accomplish his own purposes, rather than denying self and serving God, that person will in the end lose his life eternally. But anyone who loses his life for Jesus' sake - gives it in service and sacrifice to God by denying himself, as described above - such a believer will save his life by gaining eternal life.

This passage helps us understand the true meaning of being a disciple or follower of Jesus. This is how our Master lived, so this is how His disciples must live. God calls his followers to live lives of complete and total submission to the will of God.

Amen


Questions

Will you follow Jesus this year?

Is He worth it?

Have you counted the cost of following Him?

Have you considered Jesus’ expectations for you?

Are you prepared (with His help) to deny your own desires this year?

Will you embrace your cross and follow Him into this year?

Personal Prayer


[1] Romans 12:1 ‘’I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

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