Read: Mark 8:34-38
One of my favorite songs from 10 years ago, Devotion, refers to this verse in the bridge that exhorts us to follow Jesus:
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. Mark 8:34
The concept of denying myself is hard to understand and I have a hard time even grasping the notion of the cross, let along taking it up to follow Jesus, but I want to be obedient, so I must look carefully at these words.
We get some context clues in the next verse:
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. Mark 8:35
Those of us raised in the church have heard this phrase many times, to the point that we may be desensitized to the depth of the call in these few verses. Even as I think about this morning, the high demand that’s imposed on each of us is hard to comprehend. Is this a call to martyrdom? Does Jesus want us to literally die for him? I don’t think so, but Jesus does want us to get serious and ponder this question with deep conviction:
Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? Mark 8:37
There is nothing I can offer to God. Nothing. No thing I have on earth is of any value or consequence to the creator of the Universe. God doesn’t want that from me anyway. His desire is for a relationship. What good is any relationship built on things? In the end, things never matter.
As a former military couple, we have let go of things so many times that I’ve learned this part of the lesson well. I’m careful to say that things don’t matter, but that’s not a license to be a poor steward of what God has given me to care for. The point is that things must not be the focus of my existence.
The last verse in this passage is a rather somber thought:
…the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels. Mark 8:38
I had to take a trip to the Greek to be sure to hear what was being said here.
epaischunomai: to be ashamed (of)Strong’s Concordance
Luke 9:26 also includes the words, so I’m confident this is something we need to take seriously. There are several places where the concept of being ashamed is addressed, here’s one source: link. I’m sure there are dozens of sermons on this one verse, so I’ll leave it between you and the Spirit to investigate!
While it’s hard to fully understand the concept, the opposite is interesting to consider. What if we were to focus on antonyms of ashamed, such as: confident, joyful, calm, glad, even bold for Christ. Consider this: If we are confident in Christ, He will be confident in us.
Yes, my friends, Christ is for us, who then can be against us! Go forth and preach the Gospel, the great news to the lost world. I will take up my cross and follow Jesus. How about you?
Devotion, Hillsong United, All of the Above, 2007