Summary: As people run headlong into a world going nowhere, escaping reality in their hedonistic lifestyles, are we ashamed of Jesus and His words? Are we ashamed of suffering as Christians? Let’s look at Jesus’ countercultural instructions in Mark 8:31-38.
As people run headlong into a world going nowhere, escaping reality in their hedonistic lifestyles, are we ashamed of Jesus and His words? Are we ashamed of suffering as Christians?
Let’s see the value of taking up our cross and denying ourselves.
Let’s look at Jesus’ countercultural instructions in Mark 8:31-38.
Mark 8:18 Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?
We too can be like the disciples, blind to some things. The next encounter is relevant.
Mark 8:22-26 Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. 23 So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything. 24 And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.” 25 Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. 26 Then He sent him away to his house, saying, “Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town.”
The partial healing can be symbolic that we like the disciples may only see in part. Do we need Jesus’ touch a second time? Peter’s confession revealed that he partially understood, but his rebuke of Jesus revealed his blindness. Many Christians believe that Jesus is the Christ, but don’t fully understand that the cross is our way of life.
Mark 8:27-30 Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?” 28 So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.” 30 Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.
Just like many Christians, we may confess that Jesus is the Christ, but do we follow Him and take up our cross?
Mark 8:31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
Time to see something better. Jesus teaches about His suffering and rejection. Nobody relishes bad news. Pastors comfort but prophets discomfort. Are we much different than Israel? ‘They tell the seers, "Stop seeing visions!" They tell the prophets, "Don't tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies.’ (Isaiah 30:10 NLT) And the most popular preachers today do just that, because we still can’t handle the truth.
Mark 8:32 He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.
Many of us would also rebuke Jesus, because we want to protect Him or perhaps naively don’t think that real Christianity ought to include suffering. It’s natural for us to hear God’s will and complain like ancient Israel. Peter was no different and neither are we.
Mark 8:33 But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
Jesus’ rebuke was sometimes quite blunt. Let’s remember the instruction: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” (Hebrews 12:5-6 NKJV // Proverbs 3:11-12; Revelation 3:19)
Mark 8:34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
How many would become Christians if they were told to deny self rather than experience “your best life now?” Selfishness sells; self-denial does not. In a moment of weakness, Peter later denied Jesus utterly, but he eventually learned to deny himself. Taking up our cross means to accept the will of God for our lives, no matter how painful.
Mark 8:35 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.
A blessed eternity after losing our lives for Christ is far better than all the riches that a sinful world can only offer for a very short lifespan.
Mark 8:36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul [breath of life]?