Summary: Probably one of the most common questions people have when evaluating Christianity is: "Why should I follow Jesus Christ?" He made a lot of claims, and might even have come back from the dead, but so what? In Mark 8 and 9 we see the two reasons why you sh
With the multitude of philosophies, religious systems, and spiritual leaders present in our age, why follow a man who lived a short life 2,000 years ago in Palestine and then died? In fact, in today’s portion of the gospel of Mark, Jesus even suggests to His disciples that if they want to follow Him they should die too. It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? As we go through the rest of Chapter 8 and into Chapter 9 there are two key things that tell us why Jesus should be followed.
In the preceding verses Peter has been the first to publically proclaim Jesus as God’s Messiah, but his understanding of the role of the Messiah was badly lacking. Far from a political activist, Jesus’ idea of the Messiah was to suffer and die. Peter rebuked Jesus but the Master identified that at the heart of Peter’s understanding was the very rebellious attitude that got man in trouble in the Garden of Eden. Accomplishing God’s tasks with man’s methods never works—so Jesus rebuked Peter. Then He turned to the crowd:
“It’s great to understand that I am the Messiah,” Jesus suggests, “but if you want to come along with Me on this journey there are two things you must do.”
1.Deny himself. “Deny” means to “utterly deny” or “disown.”
2.“Take up his cross” would have been a clear picture of Roman execution. A person condemned under Roman law was required to carry their own cross as a form of submission to Roman law.
These two ideas go together. We want to ride into the city in victory over that which stands in our way. Jesus is telling us that our own ability is useless in the real battle going on—to redeem the human soul. We have to give up on our strength and instead submit entirely to Jesus’ way. Jesus didn’t say directly here that He would be killed on a cross, but clearly He spoke prophetically. He wasn’t saying that everyone must die on a cross (though Romans 6 tells us we died with Him on that cross), but that each of us must set aside our ways and take on a commitment to follow the Lord no matter what. It speaks of humility and submission. He goes on to explain why:
Jesus speaks here both symbolically and literally. The Roman audience who read this book had seen or experienced persecution, trial, and execution because of the decision to follow Jesus. It is that kind of commitment that Jesus wants—trust and reliance on Him and a letting go of trust and reliance on yourself. If you seek to find ultimate satisfaction by your own efforts or by the things of this age you will miss out on eternal and abundant life.
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Everyone dies. Despite our best wishes, all of the power or riches you amass here will not follow you into death. You simply cannot buy life; it is on loan from God and one day that loan comes due and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Oh, we can delay it but we cannot avoid death. It is the ultimate equalizer. So Jesus lays it out plain—in the end, either you are a follower who submits to Jesus, or you go your own way, apart from God.
The word “shame” here carries with it the idea of rejection. The suffering Messiah is also a glorious king, which Jesus makes sure to point out here. What you think of Him matters. What you think of His words matters. If you reject them, you reject Him and when He comes back as king he will reject you. You might think, “Okay, no big deal, I’ll just do whatever I want.” No you won’t. Jesus as king has total uncontested power over everything in the universe. You will go and do whatever He says. These are sobering words for sure. Notice too that Jesus talks of “glory”. This is pretty clearly a foretaste of what some of the disciples are about to experience.
Jesus is about to show a bit of the glory He will return with as king—normally even if you love Jesus you have to die in order to see Him in His glory. But three men are going to witness the coming splendor of King Jesus before death.
Peter, James, and John were Jesus’ inner circle. Why six days? It could be reminiscent of Exodus 24:16 where Moses waited six days to come before the Lord. The mountain they went to was either Mount Hermon (about 12 miles NE of Caesarea Philippi) or Mount Tabor. Mountains were often associated with receiving from or seeing God.
3 – 4
Jesus’ glory is revealed to these men. It reminds us of when Moses went up to see God in Exodus Chapter 19. Why is this significant? In our previous study we looked at Peter’s reaction to Jesus saying He was going to die. A king doesn’t die, does he? How could Jesus be a king if He dies? So this, six days later, is the proof that Jesus is more than just a man who will die—that He is, in fact, God. Interestingly, the word for “transfigured” is the word where we get the English “metamorphosis.” It means a change from within, and not just in appearance but a complete transformation of the entire being. Peter’s description of Jesus’ clothes tells us the radiance was unearthly—there was no question this was not of this age.