Summary: Jesus challenges his disciples, the crowd and us to surrender ourselves to what God has planned for us, rather than holding on to worldly things for our own comfort.
Series: The Book of Mark
Man’s Way or God’s Way
Text: Mark 8:31-9:1
What does it mean to be a Christian? Some people think that just because members of their family are Christians, then that automatically makes them Christians. Others think that just because they were baptized then they are Christians. Some people think that just because they go to church, then they are Christians. Well, I’m here to tell you that none of these things make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car!
There are a lot of different ways that we could describe what it truly means to be a Christian but I think the best description is found in our passage tonight. Simply put, a Christians is someone who follows Jesus. Now that doesn’t mean that we are perfect, or that we won’t ever mess up. Everyone of us struggle with sin in our lives every day. It means that we’ve place our trust in Jesus Christ, we’ve confessed and repented our sins, and we’ve decided to follow Jesus and the commands set forth in God’s Word. That’s what it means to be a Christian.
The text that I’ve selected for tonight’s reading can also be found in Matthew and Luke. It’s the account where Jesus challenges his disciples, the crowd and us to surrender ourselves to what God has planned for us, rather than holding on to worldly things for our own comfort.
Now apparently, Peter didn’t like it when Jesus told them that He was going to suffer and be rejected and killed. The text tell us that Jesus said these things openly, almost as if He wanted it to happen and Peter wasn’t going to stand for it. Sometimes I think that Peter was afraid that if Jesus suffered and was killed, then as followers of His..they would too. So he began to challenge the Lord, using the same authoritative tone that the serpent used in the Garden of Eden.
Jesus looks at the rest of the disciples and he had to have known that they were thinking the same thing as Peter, and so when He silences Peter he says, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (v. 33)
It’s important for us to understand that our desires, our wants, have real consequences. If we choose to follow Christ, then we need to understand that it’s extremely possible that we might suffer temporary pain, temporary rejection, and even physical death. But in return, we get to enjoy eternal life, eternal gain, and eternal honor.
However, if we choose to deny Christ so that we can be comfortable and enjoy our temporary life here on earth, seeking to gain everything this word has to offer, then we will surely suffer permanent loss, permanent rejection and eternal death.
Jesus calls even more people to come a little closer because He wants them to hear what He has to say, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. (Vv. 34-35)
Again, the consequences of our desires are a matter of life and death. If you want to save your life now, then you will lose eternal life. But if you’re willing to lose your life now, then you will save it for eternity.
If someone were to hold a gun to your head and ask you if you were a Christian, what would you do? That’s the implication of our text. If you confess Christ, you will die, but if you deny Christ, you’ll be set free to enjoy your life…for now.
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Vv. 36-37)
Jesus goes on, using a metaphor of profit and loss to pretty much say the same thing. He says that if you gain the whole world but lose your soul for eternity, you lose…because your soul is worth more than anything this world has to offer.
Some people spend their entire life seeking material gain or worldly fame; in the majority of these cases they end up neglecting their eternal souls. Even if they were able to buy everything in the world, even if they were loved by every single person in the world…if they’ve neglected their soul in the process, they end up being a loser because a person’s soul is more valuable than the whole world. They will suffer a net loss in the end.