Passion Defined

My Story For His Glory

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Take Up Your Cross

My pastor had a wonderful message this morning from Mark 8, and I just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to challenge you all with something that really challenged and convicted me! Mark 8:34-38 says, “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 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.” Wow, pretty powerful, huh? Jesus tells us that if we are to follow, then we are to deny ourselves and take up our cross. Now we have to admit, denying ourselves of anything isn’t pleasant! If you’re like me, trying to figure out how I can deny myself of anything that I want or like is the last thing that I’m going to do! So why does Jesus tell us to deny ourselves as part of following Him? It’s because the more we are filled with “us,” the less we are filled with Christ, and the less we are filled with Christ, the less we are willing to give up our own desires and be used for His glory. If we are to follow Christ, we must deny ourselves and live a life of self-sacrifice, which leads into the next aspect of following Christ: taking up our crosses. This is really neat and powerful, and I’ve never really thought about this before. What is the significance of Christ saying “…take up [your] cross and follow me…?” I think it’s interesting to realize that when Jesus told the crowd and the disciples that part of following Him meant taking up the cross, Jesus hadn’t even died on the cross yet! The cross, however, was widely known throughout the land in those times as one of the most cruel, horrendous instruments of torture and death imaginable. So did Christ basically say that to follow Him, one must essentially suffer an excruciating death? What does He mean? Well, it all goes back to living a life of self-sacrifice and denying one’s self. What is the ultimate thing that you could give up of yourself? It’s your life! When you think about it, it’s really a gruesome analogy to think that the kind of sacrifice that Christ wants is an unimaginably painful one, one that strips us of everything we have, ultimately life itself! But in verse 35 it says, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” I love how the Christian life is one of opposites! You lose to gain, you die to live. Jesus wants us to be willing to give up everything, even our very lives for His sake. What does that say about us as Christians if we aren’t willing to give up everything for the One Who laid down His life for us? It says we are ashamed of Him and His Gospel. Think about this: Jesus obeyed the will of the Father to give up everything to die the worst death possible so that we might have a way of salvation. He was God!!! But, He came humbly, obediently to the cross. As mere humans, the least we can do is give up our worthless lives for the Name of Christ. Verse 38 tells us that if we are ashamed of Christ, then He will be ashamed of us. If someone pointed a gun at your head and asked you if you believe in Jesus, what would you say? Would you be ashamed of the One Who took on your sins, even though He was perfect, so that you could have life, and have it more abundantly? We need to be willing to give up our all, even if it means our very lives, for the cause of Christ. God help me if I am ever in that situation, because my own strength would never be enough. My prayer is that if someone ever asked me if I believed in Jesus, and my answer meant life or death, that I would not be ashamed of my Savior. I’ll leave you with this simple question: What would you do?

15 comments:

Wilson said...

I agree Josh, that message was convicting for me as well. I was sitting in my chair feeling so inadequate, like God was pointing His finger saying " What about you! Why don't you take up your cross daily?!". All I know is that we all need to pray for each other and exhort each other in this new awakening.

Marc said...

Hey Josh, I really needed to hear this before I leave. It's a different world over there with a lot of temptations. What a great post and message. Thanks

Maiden of Purity said...

Wow, that is pretty amazing! This morning when I was doing my devotions I came across that question throughout that time, and I even wrote about it, "Standing Alone For God!" It's very sad to see people these days going the normal flow, just because it "feels" good. When instead it should not always "feel" good, but rather hurt a bit. The blessing afterward will be much more rewarding because we chose to stand up and be alone in this dark world. I like that question you ended with, "What would you do?" Those type of questions really stir within your mind and rest there for awhile. I often do think about that, what if an awkward situation would arise, or if I was being questioned about my faith, and if it would come to a life and death situation, what would I do? Nevertheless, my faith is growing, and I just tell myself, "God, you are first in my life, and I will STAND ALONE with you in ALL trials!!"

Vanessa

Moriah said...

I also agree. It was very convicting!

Allison said...

While this sermon wasn't an "easy" message, I'm very grateful for the elders of our church and their willingness to preach hard truth. It was a powerful and convicting reminder that I'm not my own and am to live a life of complete self-denial to the glory of God!

Joshua said...

Yeah Wilson, I totally agree! Tons of things were going through my mind and I was like, "wow, I really don't live a life of sacrifice like I should!"

I'm glad it was encouraging and challenging! It's not easy to hear things like this, but we know it's true. Truth hurts some times, and we need to be ready to let the Spirit lead and work in whatever way God has planned.

Scott M. Head said...

We should remember that it is God who works in us to will and to work, taht He is the one who gives us the desire to please Him by going down the hard roads if He leads us that way. But we are also asked to "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling" and to actively do what He has asked. It won't always be rough, but if He asks us to travel that hard road with a cross of humility, we can do so singing praises and joyfully keeping our eyes on Him, because He has bought us with His blood and that is our abiding joy!

Michelle said...

Excellent post and very convicting! I was just reading Mark 8:34-38 yesterday in my devotions. What a powerful verse it is! Thanks for writing this and asking some thought provoking questions and also challenging us to us to live a life in complete surrender to the Lord. It also reminded me, that taking up our cross daily is not just in the big things, but also in the small things that can seem like "big" thing to us!

ME! said...

Heh, it is something very hard to think about at times. Especially when you think about the fact that we may soon, in this country, be faced with this kind of persecution. Yet, God is in control and will not put a trial in front of us that we cannot weather.

Marianna said...

Great post! Right on. You brought up an interesting point about the fact that Jesus hadn't been crucified yet when He brought used the cross analogy...

So glad to see your blog here! I look forward to checking back and checking in with ya here. ;)

John Cooney, Jr. said...

Wow man. This is really good. Thanks so much for sharing!!

aefthing1 said...

That's amazing! The sad part is, that simple question can seem to be not quite simple.

Joshua said...

Great comments everyone! Yeah Amy, something so simply stated could change our lives forever! I know I personally don't ever want to have to experience any sort of death or persecution for my faith, but that's my flesh speaking! One of my friend's favorite verses is Acts 5:41 and it says, "Then they [the apostles] left the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name[Jesus]." When I read that, it was an "ouch moment!" I pray God would give me the grace to rejoice in suffering and not shame His Name!

Moriah said...

I tagged you! ;)

aefthing1 said...

That (Acts 5:41) would deffinately be an "ouch moment". "..counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name [Jesus]." Thats extremely humbling; EXTREMELY humbling.

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