Summary: Jesus said that we should not be ashamed of Him. But what happens when we are ashamed of our fellow believers?
Mark 8:31-38 – God, Save Me From Your Followers
Today we are continuing our series on The Life of Jesus, and we are looking at the 1st time Jesus predicted His own death. In the early stages of His ministry, Jesus did a lot of miracles and healings. As His ministry continued, He did more teachings. And as His hard teachings drove away many in the crowds that had been following Him, He began to speak more and more of His ultimate purposes here on earth: to die and rise again. Let’s read Mark 8:31-38.
These are certainly hard teachings. I read a story about a man named Mark Stiles, who led a young man from Sweden named Andreas to the Lord. Andreas asked Mark, “I’ve been told if I follow Jesus, He will meet my needs and my life will get very good.”
Mark replied, “No, Andreas, no.”
Andreas blinked in surprise, and Mark continued: “Actually, you may accept Jesus and find that life goes very badly for you.”
Andreas asked, “What do you mean?”
Mark said, “Well, you may find that your friends reject you, you could lose your job, your family might oppose your decision – there are a lot of bad things that may happen to you if you decide to follow Jesus. Andreas, when Jesus calls you, He calls you to go the way of the cross.”
Now, Andreas had been thinking that an easier life was a selling point for the faith, but Mark had resisted the temptation to make Christianity sound better than it is. But then Andreas asked the question that stumps a lot of believers today: “Then why would I want to follow Jesus? If my life doesn’t get easier, then why would I want to be a Christian?”
Mark looked at him and said, “Andreas, because Jesus is true.”
Folks, Jesus’ words for us today may not make life easier, but they are true anyway. Jesus told His followers that He had to die. The time was coming that He would lay his life on the line. He would willingly walk to His death, carrying a large wooden cross on his back, out of the city and up a hill called in Latin Calvary, in Hebrew Golgotha, in English The Place of the Skull. Granted, death was not to be the end for Him, because He would rise again by the power of the Holy Spirit, but He most certainly would suffer along the way.
Well, to think of dying was too much for Peter, Mr. Speak-Before-He-Thinks. Peter rebuked Jesus – that is, he criticized Jesus. He scolded Him, gave Him a good talking-to, for thinking and saying such things. There’s no way that their leader was about to die.
And Jesus rebuked Peter for rebuking Him. The same passage in the book of Matthew tells us that Jesus said Peter was a stumbling block, a barrier, an obstacle, a snag in the road that Jesus was walking on. Peter was trying to talk Jesus out of doing what He had to do. Peter wasn’t thinking about God’s will at the time. Peter was thinking of saving Jesus’ skin, and really, his own skin. Where their Master would go, they would go too. If their Master died, they would likely at least get into trouble, and they would be without their Master. And maybe they would even die too. In any event, to think of Jesus dying was too much.
Jesus went on to say that putting God’s plans ahead of our own is what makes us believers. If we want to come after Jesus, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. We must be willing to suffer in any way that seems fit. We must be willing to lose our friends, to face rejection from our families, to battle loneliness, to do whatever we are asked to do. In all our schemes to make ourselves happy, the only way to do it is to accept God’s plans for us.
Jesus said that collecting stuff – toys, money, friends, vehicles, land, homes, books, movies, music – will not actually save us. All that will actually distract us from what matters most: knowing Jesus. All the stuff you have, that you collect, that you enjoy, that you are proud of – all of it – must be put to balance with the eternal things. You can’t take it with you when you go. So appreciate it, be thankful for it, but don’t love it.
And then Jesus said something interesting: “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.” I want to look at that word: ashamed. It means embarrassed, feeling guilty, and humiliated. It means that if you deny that you know Him if someone asks you, then there are problems. I’m not saying you have to shout it from the rooftops that you are a Christian. I’m saying that wishing you weren’t connected to Jesus is a problem.