Summary: This sermon explores how Christians cannot avoid carrying their crosses.
THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS
Text: Mark 8:31 - 38
Mark 8:31-38 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. (32) He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. (33) But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things." (34) He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. (35) For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. (36) For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? (37) Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? (38) Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
Do you avoid things that make you uncomfortable? Satan tempted Jesus and offered Him the easy way when He was in the wilderness but Jesus chose the hard way. Satan tempted Jesus with easy routes to being a king but Jesus chose the cross. For Christians who follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we know that the cross comes before the crown.
How many of us follow Jesus knowing that our life and witness will provoke others? “When Hitler began interfering with the churches and humiliating the German Jews, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a loyal German himself, began to resist and protest. He refused to participate in the state church which bowed to the fuehrer’s demands. Several of his colleagues begged him to bend. They argued that they would lose the importunity to preach altogether if they followed Bonhoeffer’s example”. (Heb Miller. Actions Speak Louder than Verbs. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1989, p. 38). Was Bonhoeffer’s critics not offering a go along to get along ideal? Bonhoeffer who never wavered in his witness, later became a prisoner at a Nazi concentration camp. They executed by hanging not long before the end of WWII.
Borrowing from he words of Jesus, how can we give to Caesar what belongs to God? Do we resist our cross or embrace it? Are we ashamed of the Gospel or do we preach the Gospel in word and deed?
Today we want to talk about, the cross, and the challenges of carrying our crosses. .
Who are the faces in the crowd? 1) Crowd: Much like today, the crowd was full of believers and unbelievers, haves and have nots, the saved and the lost.
2) Caste system: Caste systems are about social classes. If you were born poor or wealthy, then likely you would be poor or wealthy all of your life. 3) Gospel wrecking ball: There are no classes or castes systems for Christian disciples because we are all one in the Body of Christ. There are no divisions in the Body of Christ, only believers because the ground is level at the cross (Galatians 3:28).
David O. Dykes tells a true story about Ghandi. Gandhi was fascinated with truth and studied the Bible along with other religious texts. He loved the Sermon on the Mount and seriously considered becoming a Christian. One Sunday, he decided to visit a church in South Africa. Gandhi’s skin was light brown; as he entered the church, a South African man said with a belligerent tone, “Where do you think you’re going kaffir?” (Kaffir is a racial slur similar to the n word)
Gandhi replied, “I’d like to attend worship here.” The man said, “There’s no room for kaffirs here. Get out of here, or I’ll have some of my men throw you down the steps.” Gandhi never seriously considered becoming a Christian again. This incident might have been one reason he later would utter the famous quote: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Sermon: The Ground Is Level at the Foot of the Cross - Sermons & Articles (preaching.com) I have heard two or three versions of this story all my life. Every version points to the same thing. What is that thing? That thing is that we are all sinners who cannot be saved except by the grace of God through Jesus Christ.
What about our crowd today? 1) Divisions: How many are divided today and why? People are divided over various things. Politics, religion and race, are at the top of the list.