Summary: Lesson one in a 15 lesson series on discipleship.
The Meaning of Discipleship
Sunday, April 11, 2010 am
Reading: Mark 8:34-38
This morning, we’re beginning a new adventure. We’re starting a new sermon series on discipleship. I’m afraid that “discipleship” is a term that most of us would rather avoid; perhaps not altogether, but at least we would like to avoid taking it too seriously. You see, right at the beginning of the word is the idea of discipline. And let’s face it, folks, we’re not very disciplined in anything.
When it comes to describing who we are as spiritual people we generally prefer to be known as Christians. It sounds so much easier than being a disciple. But we would do good to remember that the term disciple came first and that the disciples were later called “Christians” (Acts 11:26).
Spirituality in America is rarely defined as being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Why is it that Christmas is such a big holiday, but soon after the baby Jesus from the nativity set is put away until next year, so are the implications of God taking on the mantle of humanity and living among us. Baby Jesus is just a baby. He’s cute, he’s small, he never cries, he makes no demands. What’s not to love?
Even when it comes to Jesus, we want to pick and choose. We want the baby Jesus, who’s away in the manger not making a sound. But we’re not so excited about the grown up Jesus who said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
The apostle Peter had the same problem, did you know that. If you still have your Bibles open to Mark 8, Look back at verse 31.
Mark 8:31-32 ESV 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.
Can you just here Peter? “Lord, what do you mean “suffer”. You’re not going to suffer. You’re the Son of God. You don’t have to suffer. Be rejected? Who would reject you Lord? Why they wouldn’t dare! There going to kill you? No way!”
Isn’t that what you or I would likely say? More than likely. But look at Jesus response to this kind of thinking.
Mark 8:33 ESV 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."
Discipleship isn’t about taking the easy road. It’s about walking on the narrow road, so narrow that you may at times be walking alone.
Jesus then defines discipleship in the simplest of terms, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Let’s take a closer look.
I. “Let him deny himself. . .”
A. The word that is used here means “to utterly reject”, “to cast off”, “to disown”.
1. Do you get how serious this is?
a. Jesus is not saying that he should be our highest priority.
b. He’s saying that he should be our only priority.
2. But if Jesus is our only priority, what about everything else?
a. You know the answer to that.
b. Jesus said, Matthew 6:33 ESV But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
c. If Jesus is our only priority, everything else will take care if itself.
B. When Jesus speaks of denying yourself, He’s not talking about giving up smoking, or certain foods, or saying you have no self worth.
1. He is saying to be His disciple you surrender control of your life to His person and his power.
2. It means that when you face decisions in life, you make those decisions based talking to Him about it first and obeying Him.
3. It means following Jesus wherever he may lead you.
4. It means doing what he asks of you, even if you can’t see the value of it.
C. What would Jesus do.
1. A few years ago, everyone was wearing these WWJD bracelets, hats and t-shirts.
2. I heard about one man who was in a store looking at a ball-cap with WWJD emblazoned on the front.
a. He looked at the cap.
b. He looked at the price tag.
c. He thought to himself, “I don’t think that Jesus would spend $14 on a ball-cap.”
3. How many of you have ever read, “In His Steps.”
a. That’s where this WWJD stuff came from.