Summary: What is it that Jesus would have me do? The answer is in Mark 8:31-38.
Unless noted otherwise, all scripture is quoted from the New Living Translation of the Bible.
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Are you a follower?
I’ve pretty much given up on asking people if they are Christians. I mean, I don’t want to give the word up – Christian is a very good word to describe who we are – but when you ask it a lot of people assume too much.
"O sure, I’m a Christian. I was born in America."
"Well, yeah, I’m a Christian – I was baptized and I go to church."
"Of course, I’m a Christian, I went forward at a crusade when I was 15 and accepted Christ. Now, I haven’t done a lot with it but I think I more Christian than anything else."
There’s a lot of confusion out there.
So I’ve gone back to using a lot of the language that Jesus used. And when Jesus challenged the people he didn’t challenge them to become Christians but he challenged them to become his followers.
Mark 8:34 – “Then he called his disciples and the crowds to come over and listen. ‘If any of you wants to be my follower’” this is what you’ve got to do.
Now, not all of us a terribly predisposed to following. I’m not. I like ot be the guy in charge. (Why do you think I’m standing up here?) I enjoy setting the agenda. I enjoy running the meeting. I like calling the shots. I suppose I’m not unlike the disciple Peter in that sense.
Verse 31 is pivotal in Mark’s gospel because that’s where the whole flow of events turns and heads toward the cross. Up to that point Jesus had been doing a lot of miracles and drawing large crowds. People were really excited about what he was doing and where this whole Jesus parade was obviously going.
And the disciples – they were counting themselves as lucky dogs – because they were riding on the coat tales of the emerging kingdom. Somehow they had all been chosen to be cabinet ministers in the coming regime.
But then Mark 8:31 happened! “Then Jesus began to tell them that he, the Son of Man, would suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the leaders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, and three days later he would rise again.”
Suffer... Rejection... Killed...
"Wait a minute Jesus, I’m not going to let that happen to you" was Peter’s attitude. "You stick with me and together we’ll come out on top. Just don’t start talking negatively."
Verse 32 – “As Jesus talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside (!!!) and told him he shouldn’t say things like that.”
"If we want to keep the momentum rolling you can’t talk about suffering, rejection, and death. People don’t want to hear that kind of thing. We need to be about positive thinking."
And in his approach Peter was being very in-charge – asserting the leadership of the #1 disciple.
But what does Jesus say to Peter?
He says: “Hey zip it! You’re sounding like the devil himself!”
Verse 33 – “Jesus turned and looked at his disciples and then said to Peter very sternly, ’Get away from me, Satan! You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.’"
I can imagine that Peter wanted to crawl under a rock. How embarrassing!
But deep inside he knew that he was right. Jesus needed to follow some practical advice. You know how visionaries are – sometimes so far out there that they need someone to hold their feet to the ground.
So what does Jesus do?
Verse 34 – “Then he called his disciples and the crowds to come over and listen. ‘If any of you wants to be my follower...’"
Here is what you’ve got to do.
You see, this whole Jesus thing is about being a follower. Whatever else it entails – baptism, accepting Christ, being a part of the church – all important – but the bottom line is that Jesus is looking for followers.
If Jesus were standing here identifying his followers would he point you out? Would he say that you’re one of his followers? And I don’t just mean, one of his wanna-be followers. Are you a follower?
This morning I’d like to share the scoop on what it means to actually be one of his followers -- based on his words here in Mark 8:34-38. And Jesus, like most preachers was into three point sermons. He tells the crowds and the disciples three things that they need to do if they are going to be his followers. And these are the very same things that we -- that you -- need to be doing if you are going to be a follower of Jesus.