“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.'” Mark 8:34-38
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
The most important aspect in the life of a disciple is to see the reality of Jesus in a comprehensive and clear fashion by the power of the Holy Spirit under the authority of the Word of God.
In this passage Jesus calls his people to a life of discipleship/obedience.
If glad songs of salvation reside in my life and home (Psalm 118:14-15); if I have tasted the goodness and purpose that comes in knowing the living God (Psalm 84:10-12); if I understand that gaining God’s perspective and understanding his character leads to joy (Nehemiah 8:10) then the call to obedience can be embraced.
THE CALL TO FOLLOW JESUS:
1. Deny himself
A person who denies himself gives up all reliance on whatever he is by giftedness and nature regarding his salvation and relies on God alone. He intentionally turns away from thought patterns and behaviors that do not harmonize with his new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5, Philippians 3:7-11).
He takes up his cross
The underlying figure is that of a condemned man who is forced to take up and carry his own cross to a place of execution. While the condemned man does it under distress and pressure that disciple of Christ does it willingly as he tastes the goodness of the Lord. He voluntarily and decisively accepts the pain, shame, and persecution that may be his lot because of his loyalty to Christ.
3. He begins to follow and keeps on following Jesus as Savior and Lord
When we come to places of required obedience to Christ (Matthew 11:28-30, Mark 8:34-38)
- The yoke of Jesus is easy and His burden is light
As I do this I will find rest and refreshment for my soul
I will embrace that which is truly life
I will travel with hope and anticipation
I will “prove” the authenticity of my faith
*The 4 mental/emotional outworkings of the life of obedience all preceded by the work “for.” (vv 35-38)
- Zealously press into this obedience because it will lead to true life. (For whoever would save his life…)
- Do not buy the lie. (i.e. “If I gain the world’s bounty; I win”)
- Know that once the life is lost it is too late. (For what can a man give…)
- Have an anticipatory attitude towards the reality of eternity.
1. The Father is called Father because he is a Father. The living God is a person who gives life and is pulsating with energy in his triune glory.
Gaining an eternal perspective frees (frees us to live life with joy and to love others because we play to an audience of One) and feeds/energizes us because we continue to taste the superlative goodness of Jesus (Helping Broken People Treasure Jesus).
There is a “cross-bearing” that is based on the promises of scripture and biblically anticipatory and a “cross-bearing” that is teeth gritting and dour/gloomy.
Jesus will call us to do “hard things” for his glory, the advancement of His kingdom, and our flourishing.
5. We are to let our light so shine before men that they see our good works that they glorify our Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
“Jesus promised his disciples three things: that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble. It might be argued that most Western Christians do exemplify any of these three – least of all ‘absurdly happy.'’’ G.K. Chesterton
“It is a positive misfortune to Christianity when a Christian cannot smile. A merry heart, and a readiness to take part in all innocent mirth, are gifts of inestimable value. They go far to soften prejudices, to take stumbling blocks out of the way, and to make way for Christ and the gospel.” J.C. Ryle
This is what help happens: looking away from self to the Kingdom expands our horizons and enlarges our persona. (Matthew 25:40)