Summary: Jesus calls on us to deny our selves and take up our crosses and follow Him - just as He went to the cross. This sermon delves into that idea of denying the "self" a little more.
March 12, 2006 Mark 8:31-38
31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his 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 him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
What is the difference between a job and a hobby? That could be answered in a number of ways. A hobby is something that you enjoy, while a job is not necessarily so. You do hobbies because you want to, while a job is more mandatory - to pay the bills. I’ve often heard farmers refer to their job as a hobby - with tongue in cheek. They refer to it as a hobby because it doesn’t always pay the bills - but they enjoy it so much that they wouldn’t want to do anything else.
How do you look at being a Christian? Is it a hobby? Is it something you love to do, but don’t have enough time for? Or do you look at it as a job? Something you have to do, but you don’t really enjoy? Or is it a conglomeration of the two? That all depends on how you look at it. I hope that after today’s sermon you will look at Christianity and realize -
Christianity: It’s More Than a Hobby. It’s a Way of Life
I. The why
People will do seemingly crazy things if they enjoy them. Some people collect Pez dispensers. Some people enjoy bungee jumping from bridges - some enjoy running miles and miles and miles - others enjoy mountain climbing. Imagine if you asked someone what they liked to do and they said, “suffering.” What would you think about someone like that? A bit strange, huh? Who would voluntarily choose to suffer if they didn’t have to? Jesus. He didn’t have to go to the cross. He didn’t have to allow those puny chief priests and Pharisees take him captive and put him on the cross. He was the almighty God. Yet Jesus willingly let them do just that. Today’s text contains the first detailed prediction that Jesus made of His own suffering and death. Notice what it says. He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this.
If Jesus didn’t have to go to the cross, then you might ask, “why does he use the word ‘must’ to describe his suffering?” That could be answered with one word - love. In His love - God hated seeing us be victims of the devil. He hated seeing us covered head to toe with sin - on the way to hell. God didn’t like to see us drowning in our filth of sin. It was the love of Jesus that compelled him to do what he did - there was no way that he could sit idly by while we were helplessly on the way to hell. His love for us compelled him to go to Golgotha - He had no other choice. John 15:13 explains it well: Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. It was because of Jesus’ love - that’s what drove him to voluntarily suffer in our place.
That’s the way Jesus describes the Christian life as well - voluntary suffering and sacrifice. Notice what Jesus says - living a Christian lifestyle isn’t something that can be forced upon you. This isn’t like a gun law or a speeding violation. You can’t force people to stop using God’s name in vain or to pray in school. He says - you must deny YOURSELF. It has to be something you do to yourself - because you want to.