Summary: Lesson five in a 15 lesson series on discipleship.
The Challenge of Discipleship
Sunday, May 09 , 2010 am
Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 ESV
In his book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman writes, “I believe I am not mistaken in saying that Christianity is a demanding and serious religion. When it is delivered as easy and amusing, it is another kind of religion altogether.”
“Christianity is a demanding and serious religion.”
To those who were weary of trying to earn their salvation, Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” But let us not lose sight of the fact that living the Christian life is both demanding and serious.
In many churches across this land the focus of the assembly is not on the message, but the media. They may have bands playing music, or beautiful scenes projected on the walls, all for your enjoyment and entertainment. Everything is planned and coordinated and orchestrated for maximum enjoyment.
Now, I’m not suggesting that worship should be bland and boring if it is to be acceptable to God. What I am saying is that the message we preach and sing and pray is far more important than the entertainment value. Christianity is demanding and serious.
The four Gospels narrate the story of Jesus, and the book of Mark characterizes Him as a servant on an important mission. This mission is so important that in the first eight chapters the word “immediately” appears more than thirty times. There is a sense of urgency to His work, which is both demanding and serious.
Jesus is baptized, and “immediately” He comes up out of the water (1:10); “immediately” afterwards the Holy Spirit leads Him into the wilderness (1:12); then He meets some disciples, and they “immediately” follow Him (1:18, 20); He casts out a demon, and “immediately” the news about Him spreads (1:28); He leaves the synagogue, and “immediately” He comes to someone’s house (1:29).
Mark shows Jesus steadily moving around from place to place fulfilling His mission. But all this is leading up to Mark 8:27-38 ESV And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" (28)And they told him, "John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets." (29)And he asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Christ." (30)And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him. (31)And he began to teach them that the Son of Man 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. (32)And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. (33)But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man." (34)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. (35)For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. (36)For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (37)For what can a man give in return for his soul? (38)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."
The whole context of discipleship in verses 34-38 is intricately tied to the events that are about to unfold, which Jesus is trying to prepare his disciples for. He tells them about persecution and rejection. And when Peter says, “No way! You’re God’s anointed one!” Jesus rebukes him as harshly as could be done. "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man."
Today’s lesson is entitled “The Challenge of Discipleship” and it has three points.
* Be Holy.
* Be Faithful.
* Be Unashamed.
I. To be Holy.
A. In the Mark 8:34, Jesus says “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
1. Hebrews 4:15 ESV For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
2. No other man or woman can make that claim.
3. We are all sinners.
a. We have all been tempted.