Summary: The road of discipleship is difficult
The Rough Road of Discipleship
October 18, 2009
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.”
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.
Mark shows Jesus steadily moving around from place to place fulfilling His mission.
But everything slows down in chapter eight to focus on one moment; in this moment the heavy demands and the seriousness of Christianity are defined.
Mark 8:27-30 says, “Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ 28They told Him, saying, ‘John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.’ 29And He continued by questioning them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered and said to Him, ‘You are the Christ.’ 30And He warned them to tell no one about Him.”
This question and Peter’s confession segue to the commands in verses 31-38. What you’re about to hear are not words from a mere man, even a man as great as John the Baptist or the prophet Elijah; they are the words of the Christ.
Before I get into the text let me begin by asking you His question: Who do you say that He is? If you say He is Christ, as I assume most of you will, then I also assume you will receive His commands as slaves receive commands from a master.
Christianity is neither easy nor amusing; that’s why today’s sermon is called…
The Rough Road of Discipleship
After affirming His identity, Jesus begins to map out this rough road for the disciples. In blazing the trail:
1. Jesus Accepted the World’s Rejection (:31-32)
Mark 8:31-32 says, “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. 32And He was stating the matter plainly.”
I want you to notice four key words in this portion of the text:
The first is the word “must.” The proceedings which follow are not optional; they are compulsory; they are obligatory. From the foundation of the world it’s written that these things will occur, and Christ recognizes that they are unavoidable and necessary. He must allow them.
What “must” He allow? These are the other key words:
First, He must “suffer.”
This point needed emphasis because the disciples and most first century Jews were looking for a powerful Messiah; they assumed He would come rescue them from Rome, and He would be a great warrior.
Perhaps we aren’t so different today. We promise or expect that Jesus will take care of all our needs and life will be so much easier as a Christian. Yes, it’s true that in many ways life is easier, but suffering is a “must” for believers as much as it was for our Lord.
Matthew 10:24-25 says, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. 25It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household!”
II Timothy 3:12 says, “…all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
It goes against our nature to accept suffering, especially when that suffering is undeserved. But Jesus not only requires us to do so, He leads the way in accepting it.
Second, He must be “rejected.”
I don’t want to preach too far ahead of myself because we’ll draw applicable conclusions later in the message. The emphasis at this point is on Jesus’ acceptance of rejection. He did all He could to sway the authorities and the religious leaders (Jn. 10:38), but they refused to listen. They hated His message. He could have changed it and won their approval, but the message was far more important than their opinions. He chose, rather, to be hated and rejected than change God’s Word.