Summary: A different perspective of what it means to take up your cross.
March 29, 2009
Text: Luke 9:23
Subject: The Cross
Title: If Anyone Would Come After Me
For the last four weeks some of you have been attending the community Lenten services at the various churches. I think it is kind of funny that some of our churches that participate in those events don’t even follow a liturgical calendar and those don’t even observe Lent and many of the churches that do are not participating. One of the things that I have noticed during this time and through my years in a church that did observe lent is the infatuation with the idea of “giving up” something for lent as if somehow that would make you better prepared to celebrate the Resurrection. One of the recurring themes of the Lenten services is just that – what are you willing to give up, or how much are you willing to suffer, or how pitiful a Christian are you willing to be at this time?
I participate in those services, not because I observe lent, but because they are community services. I want to be out in the churches. Who knows when somebody might get the Holy Ghost and will need to know what to do with it! They’ll at least know there is someone they can go to in order to find out.
What I want to do with you today is to challenge your way of thinking. Maybe you have never participated in these Lenten services, but I wonder how many of you have gone about in your Christian walk with the Lenten mentality hanging over you.
Turn to Mark 10. I want to begin by reading verses 32-34. 32They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. 33“We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, 34who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”
Real quickly I want to look at four things in these verses.
1. They were on their way to Jerusalem.
2. Jesus led the way even though verses 33-34 say that He knew what was going to happen.
3. His disciples were astonished. Those who followed Him all this time couldn’t believe that HE was doing this.
4. All others who tagged along were afraid. It doesn’t say they were afraid for Him – just that they were afraid.
The reason that Jesus was willing to lead the way was because He saw the ultimate outcome – the defeat of the devil. And He wants us to see the same thing for our lives.
Luke 9:23, Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
I want to take you to the cross of Jesus today to show you that it is not what many people make it out to be – a cross of sorrow and sadness and penance – but a cross of cleansing and power and enablement and action.
Lord open my eyes to see and my ears to hear what the spirit is saying to the church.
If anyone would come after ME –
I. YOU MUST DENY YOURSELF. May I Have Your Attention Please! Contrary to popular belief denying yourself does not mean that you are supposed to beat yourself up, make yourself believe that you are insignificant in the body of Christ, or that you have to suffer to be of any value to God. If you want to be a follower of Jesus Christ you have to understand your role in the body of Christ. Romans 12:3, 3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you… the measure of faith to be everything that God has called you to be in Christ Jesus. Of course we understand that we have no ability to do anything in our own power. Therefore we must do everything we can to put away those things that keep us from being what we should be according to the word of God. John 6:28-29, 28Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” Hence, denying oneself has nothing to do with outward appearances and actions and has everything to do with trusting Jesus for the power and authority He has given you to do the work of the church. WE need to look at the positives of being a Christian instead of dwelling on the “poor me” mentality of defeated Christianity. Stop trying to receive grace by earning it, (Oh, I’ll just be a martyr for the faith and accept whatever comes my way) for when you try to earn it, it stops being grace. You have been given power in the Holy Spirit in order to live a life of power and have a testimony that reveals God’s power at work in you. 2 Corinthians 9:8-11, 8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9As it is written:“He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 10Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. Paul wrote this in reference to an offering that the church in Corinth had pledged but the principal applies to every aspect of your faith. You want healing in your life? God is able to make all grace abound to you… Do you need supernatural provision in your life? God is able to make all grace abound to you… Do you need a blessing today? God is able to make all grace abound to you… Do you need a change in your emotions, your relationships, your mental state? What part of this do you not understand? God is able to make all grace abound to you!!! You can’t do anything to receive it except believe it. It is God’s word to you. Jeremiah 1:12, The LORD said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. So denying yourself means that you will accept the promises of God even when they don’t make sense to the natural man and quit trying to gain those promises through natural means.