Summary: What does it mean to "take up" or "bear a cross? What does it mean when someone says, "I want to take up my cross and follow Jesus"? (Powerpoints available free - #256)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this sermon are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request PP #256.)
This morning I want us to look at a passage of Scripture found in Mark 8:34-35. "Then Jesus called the crowd to Him along with His disciples & said: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself & take up his cross & follow me.
“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me & for the gospel will save it.’"
You have heard this passage of Scripture before, haven’t you? When he talks about us denying ourselves & taking up a cross & following Him – what does that mean?
Well, we’re going to talk about that in just a few moments. But before we do, I believe that we ought to realize 2 things about Jesus.
A. First of all, there is the startling honesty of Jesus. Jesus never tries to bribe us by the offer of an easy life.
ILL. I want to read part of an e-mail received from Tom Hans in Papua, Irian Jaya. As you know, Tom & Rosa, after working for several years there with Mission Aviation Fellowship, have just begun working in that same area with Helimission.
With Helimission he’ll be flying helicopters into areas where MAF’s fixed wing planes are unable to go. It’s a rough & dangerous area, so please continue to remember them in your prayers! Well, here’s a part of what he wrote:
Dear Friends in Christ, Greetings in the name of our Lord from Papua! Please know you are all loved & very much appreciated. Sorry for the delay in getting this first report out. I find I’m spending more time away from home with Helimission than I did with MAF.
Well, it was my first day on the job, & … we hit the ground running … Hans Kummer, our mechanic from Switzerland, & I were invited by this young evangelist to show the Jesus film in a village called Kurima. This is the district whose people performed some of the worst atrocities during the Oct. 2000 riots.
To be able to give my testimony & show the Jesus film in a village of murderers, thieves & plunderers, was quite an opportunity. How could we say no?
We did not fly there, but took a car from Wamena until where the first big bridge is out, & then walked for an hour more over the trail to reach Kurima. The evangelist had arranged for some carriers to help us haul the equipment we were carrying through the streams & over the trail. It was hard going, but we got there!
We did not have as large a turn out as we had hoped. But there were over 200, & we were sure it was whom God wanted there, & seeds were planted.
It rained during the second half of the film so Hans & I sat under umbrellas & a tarp to protect the equipment, while the crowd moved to the porch of the local government office & watched the reverse side of the sheet/screen.
It was also interesting that while we were showing the film, some of the Islamic members of the local military unit held some sort of assembly about 240 feet away. I’m sure our speakers could be heard there by them as well.
We hadn’t planned on spending the night, but because of the rain we did. The evangelist had a friend who allowed us to sleep on the straw floor of his kitchen, next to a hole in the ground with a fire, so it was quite nice.
The next day on the hike over the trail home, the streams were quite high because of the previous night’s rain. At one spot I let one of the local soldiers, assisted by some of the village boys, carry my motorbike across the largest stream & up the steep bank on the far side. We later learned that the half broken down bridge that we used there was completely washed away a few hours later. Thanks Father!
Well, there was more in his e-mail, but I think Tom & many other missionaries have come to understand what Jesus meant when he said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself & take up his cross & follow me.”
It’s not an easy road! And Jesus never sought to lure people to Him by the offer of an easy way.
ILL. Some of you will remember that in the early days of WW2, when Winston Churchill took over the leadership of England, all that he offered his people was "blood, sweat & tears." And that is very much like what Jesus is offering to His followers, too.