Summary: Salvation is free but discipleship will cost you your life.
Losing to Win
Rev. Brian Bill
January 21-22, 2016
Video: “Me Church”
In contrast to the common thinking that life is all about you and me, listen to the words of Christ found in Mark 8:34-38: “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 of 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.’”
As I meditated on these words this week my mind went to something Dietrich Bonhoeffer said in his book, The Cost of Discipleship, which I first read as a brand new believer: “Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life.”
As we unpack this passage, we’ll begin by considering the call to follow Jesus, we’ll then camp on four conditions Christ gave if we’re serious about following Him and we’ll conclude with three cautions.
We see Jesus’ call in verse 34: “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples…” Let’s set the context. Two weeks ago we focused on three questions from the previous passage in Mark 8:27-33:
• Who do people say Jesus is?
• Who do you say Jesus is?
• Who does Jesus say He is?
Jesus made it very clear that He “must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.” After this intense teaching time, which included a public rebuke of Peter, Jesus then called the crowd and his disciples together. This word “call” means, “to call to oneself, to summon hither, to bid to come.” He’s calling them to huddle up because he has something very important He wants them to know. After describing His fate, He describes what it means to follow Him.
The call is to everyone but there are also conditions to following Christ. We see this in the use of the word, “if.” We’re going to discover that the demands of discipleship can’t be dismissed or downplayed.
1. Desire. The first condition is that a person must have a desire to become a disciple – “If anyone would come after me…” The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. The phrase, “would come” is the idea of intentionality and involves the will. In order to walk with Jesus you must first want to walk with Jesus. The New King James renders it like this: “Whoever desires to come after me.” The New American Standard puts it like this: “If anyone wishes…” And the New Living Translation says this: “If any of you wants to be my follower…”
I love that the call of Jesus goes out to everyone and to anyone – to the curious crowd (those nearby), to the committed core (the eleven) and even to the counterfeit (Judas). It strikes me that these three groups are still present today. Some of you are curious about Christ, others of you are committed to Him and a few have a counterfeit faith. Notice that Jesus is about to give the same message to each of the groups as He calls everyone to Him.
As Ray Pritchard reminded us last week, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or how you’ve been living. Everyone is welcome – Romans 3:23 states that “all have sinned” and Acts 10:34 says, “…everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Notice the phrase, “come after me.” This has the idea of movement, of lining up behind the Lord, following wherever He goes. We don’t walk in front of Him and ask Him to catch up with our ways and wishes. No, we get behind him, so that we walk where He walks. We walk after Him, not ahead of Him.
Do you have the desire to follow Jesus as one of his disciples? You won’t follow Him if you don’t want to. One of Beth’s sisters made a statement several years ago that we often quote in our family. It goes like this, “people do what they want to do.” It sounds so simple but it’s so true. Some are not following the Savior simply because they don’t have the desire to do so. Listen. Until you desire to be a disciple, you won’t be one. If you desire Him more than anyone or anything else, you will be a disciple. Psalm 73:25: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.”