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Jesus on following Jesus

I had the pretty awesome privilege of preaching for our Summit Young Professionals last night. I love preaching and as a small groups pastor maybe the one tough side of the job for me is that preaching is a pretty irregular opportunity.

So last night we looked at Mark 8:31-38, mainly resting in v.34. Jesus says there “if anyone would come after me let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” These words of Jesus are EXTREMELY convicting to me. This is a moment of raw transparency between Jesus & his disciples & it is good. To follow Jesus means 2 things.

#1 – Deny Yourself – See before you can be a follower of Jesus you have to cease to be a follower of you.What does this look like? It’s a heart thing first of all. Self-denial is never just a series of isolated acts of self-mortification. He means to renounce self. To cease to make self the object of your life & actions. This involves a fundamental reorientation of the purpose of life. God, not self, must be at the center of life. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says it this way in his book Cost of Discipleship “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

#2 – Take up your cross – To follow Jesus is to imitate him. Jesus is taking up a cross, and suffering the penalty for the sins of us. So it is only through the price paid on the cross that we are free from the penalty of our sin. Now Jesus tells us we have to imitate him here if we are going to follow him. He is guaranteeing our suffering. But also showing that in our suffering is where we will have the greatest opportunity to put the gospel on display. And in this way we will be the “cross” for others. We will not bring salvation to others but we will have to bear the pain of their sin when we choose to love them as Christ loves them. AND THIS is the greatest demonstration of Christ’s love you will ever give. Taking up your cross is what brings increased validity to THE CROSS for the watching world. You are a WITNESS of THE CROSS to those you suffer in front of.

Deny yourself, and take up your cross. WHY? because when you see Jesus for who he is, all of your desires and affections are turned towards him. And because you find such hope and joy and peace in him, you will follow after him.

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