The Way of the Cross

Mark 8:34-38

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

 

Why another sermon on this passage? It is because I did not focus much on the information following the call to discipleship. There are things that Jesus says here that are very significant to us!

If you remember from last week’s message, the emphasis is on submission to God’s kingdom and will. This is what it means to deny self and take up our cross. The unexpected nature of God’s kingdom is that it includes the Cross for the Messiah. That means that God’s kingdom is not what the Jewish people expected. And here is still the personal tension, if God’s kingdom is not what people expect in their lives today, if God does not do what we want, He is often similarly rejected.

We are told to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done” and in fact this is what God is going to do regardless. God is God. He will accomplish His kingdom and will. What we have to learn to do is to pursue and invest in the kingdom of God in our lives and in the world.  There are three reasons why this is really important listed by Jesus in this passage:

Three disasters:

Trying to keep your will primary

  1. Whoever tries to save their life will lose it.

Giving up your soul for worldly gain

  1. You can lose the real you!

 

Rejecting God’s because of shame.

  1. God will heap shame and rejection on you

 

Three disasters:

  1. Trying to Keep Your Will Primary
  2. Sacrificing the Soul to Avoid Trouble

III. Rejecting God Because of Shame

 

  1. The Trouble with My Will

Trying to keep my will primary

  1. You cannot serve two masters

Submission to God is necessary. Other Gods can be manipulated.         They are bought off and do what we want. This is not the way      that God works! There are people in the church who think this   way and who speak this way. That is the approach of witchcraft.      Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.

Doing what you want and then giving God a sacrifice to      salve your conscience will not work. (This is the context for     Micah 6:8, this is the sin of King Saul.) Are our lives submitted      to God as our Master? He is the Boss, we are the employee. We    are working in our lives for His business. His business is the gospel!

 

  1. You will lose your life trying to maintain it

You will lose your life because you never even enter into life to     begin with. Addiction is the classic example.

Greed is another classic. We always want more.

Success is temporary.

God is the only thing I can think of that is pleasurable, without     any downside. The more you love God, the more you enjoy God,        the freer you become!

 

 

  1. Resurrection is always the last word

        You will face God or else God does not exist.

If you give up your will to God’s will, your will be merged with      God’s and your will will be resurrected.

 

  1. Your Soul will be Exchanged

        Sacrificing the soul to avoid trouble

       

  1. Give it to God and have it kept

Your soul is the most valuable thing that you have! Your soul is    the real you. Your soul is not your body. You are not your body.       Your soul reacts to your body!

        The true you outlives your body. This is the issue. The        Bible talks about the reward of being with Jesus or the        punishment that it calls the second death.

 

  1. Give it to another master and lose it

        What are these other masters?

Success, power and pride

Money and possessions

Pleasures and comfort

God grants all of these as a byproduct of seeking first His    kingdom and His righteousness. They are not bad. Our hearts are    corrupted and corruptible. And it is our heart that needs to be   killed and resurrected! The resurrected heart will follow Jesus.      Our desires must be renewed. Set your hearts on things above       Paul says.

 

        When? Now or later? Yes. Both. You can be less and less the        creation that God intended you to be now. And you will grow    more and more into the creation that God intends you to be. You     do this by measuring your life by the Scriptures and submitting   to them.

If you find yourself gossiping, then stop talking. You don’t    gossip? Do you enjoy talking about other people and saying things that are bad about them that are true? Gossip. Just one   example.

 

  1. Your soul is the real you

        The real you is meant for God.

What I want most in life is to experience God.

I want to see Jesus face to face. Jesus is coming for me. I am so grateful!

Jesus came for my mom.

Jesus will come for my dad.

I want Jesus to come for you!

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and      take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

 

 

 

III. Being Ashamed of God’s Ways

Jesus talks about being ashamed of Him and God’s ways. Because it is the disappointment with God’s ways that leads to the trouble with people. Folks have a lot invested in their worldview, their theology, their families, their business etc. They have given their lives to these things. (This is what they believe is the best way to live. It is hard to realize that you have messed up your life.) It is easy to give yourself to the things that you can see and feel directly. And then they hear that God says that it is not good enough. The story of the Rich Young Ruler. One thing you still lack: What is the problem? Why does Jesus not tell this to every person? His money is His God. It is what he relies upon for life. He will live an easy life now. He is sacrificing his soul.

  1. Jesus and His words

        John 7: The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil.

Are your works evil? I mean, other people are, but surely not me!  Let’s examine some lists:

Romans 1: 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.

Galatians 5: 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

James 3: 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

Love God with all your heart, mind soul and strength.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

You shall not covet what your neighbor has!

Do all things without grumbling or complaining

 

  1. Shame is returned by God

This shame is what Peter is expressing when he denies Jesus three times. It gets worked out, but there it is. All of the Disciples abandon Jesus. Only John, who is very young and the women are with Jesus.

Our Cross will be different things, but for the Disciples, the Cross of Jesus is literally their cross. They will all die living out the truth of the gospel. James is killed in Acts 12! Peter and Paul are killed by that beast of a man, Nero in the mid 60’s AD.  This quilt behind me reflects the individual Apostles around Jesus. And because they do this, we have the clearest testimony apart from the testimony of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is the Son of God and Our Savior and the bearer of the message of the Kingdom of God. They shared Jesus’ yoke. Life is the result! And heavenly reward!! The Disciples find their greatness.

Ephesians 2: 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

 

  1. Jesus will come in glory with the angels

They do not see Him in glory now.

They do not see the angels now.

There is no one like Jesus. The pictures in the Book of Revelation are amazing. He is incomparable! He deserves to be honored right now on the earth by every living human being. That honor will be expressed by people submitting to His authority and living their lives according to His teaching and example.

I long to see Him in His glory. I have seen Him in His humility and it is not OK with me. He is not like me, and yet He became like me. I need Him to be more and He is! He is so much more! He is my Savior, my defender, my friend and my eternal partner in God’s house.

When I was five years old, I believed the message of the gospel and I went forward in church to be saved. As I have gotten older I have understood the implications of the gospel in ways that no five year old can. I thought I needed a Savior when I was five. At 61 I know that apart from a Savior I am hopeless. I want to see Jesus come in the glory of the Father. I want to welcome Him back to the earth in the parade of glory that He deserves. I want to join with His holy angels and declare His praises. I want to tell the angels what it means to be forgiven by His sacrifice.

What makes these words true is my submission to Jesus’ teaching and words. He alone has all authority in heaven and on earth. He alone can give life.

Simon of Cyrene