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Counting the Cost of Carrying the Cross

posted Feb 7, 2010, 2:30 PM by Website Administrator   [ updated Feb 7, 2010, 2:31 PM ]

January 24, 2010           

Key Passage: Mark 8:22-38 

                              “Counting the Cost of Carrying the Cross” 

Whether you’re eighteen or forty-eight, chances are you’re actively plotting out some kind of vision for your life: the things you hope to accomplish, the relationships you’d like to develop, the job you want to have, the places you’d like to live.  So… how do you feel about relinquishing the right to define your life?  Let’s be brutally honest here – most people can’t even begin following Jesus because they can’t fathom denying themselves, much less picking up a cross and carrying it.  Yet, that’s exactly what Jesus states a Follower of his must do. It’s almost impossible to do because at our core, most of us are as narcissistic as the day is long – it’s ALL about us.  The Good News is, this process is actually a series of small steps.  Remember, Jesus didn’t just appear out of nowhere in the Garden of Gethsemane to make the most difficult – and most significant – decision in history; the decision to submit to the Father’s will and, quite literally, take up his cross.  Christ journeyed toward the cross one step at a time.  He made hundreds of decisions along the way … and so it is with us.  Count the cost of carrying the cross one day at a time! 

Mark 8:22-26 Setting the stage for teaching the disciples about counting the cost…consider: 

  • This miracle is the only one Jesus ever performed in two stages – the only one that involved a process instead of immediate healing
  • Likely, this was done as a deliberate act – for the benefit of the disciples – to teach them that spiritual blindness and its subsequent “healing” is a progressive act … note what follows:
 

Mark 8:27-33 Peter confession of Jesus as the Christ, and Jesus’ rebuke of him…consider: 

  • “Christianity” without the cross isn’t Christianity at all, but a cruddy, slimy substitute (“Health, Wealth”).  The way of the cross is what makes up Christianity, and that encompasses three things:
    1. It means the end of self-sufficiency, self-reliance.  That’s the philosophy of our day – think

          about how the world despises that concept (Madison Avenue; Hollywood; Politics)

    1. It involves pain and hurt.  Which of us, if allowed to choose our own vision for our life, would

         include defeat, disaster, despair, disappointment and death?  Yet these are the very elements,

         Scripture tells us, that God finds absolutely essential to working out his plan for us.

    3.  The Good News is, the cross always leads to a resurrection.  Does anybody else think it

         strange that the disciples never seemed to hear Jesus when he said after three days he would

         rise again?  Resurrection is simply a new beginning, on different terms.  It leads to freedom. 

Mark 8:34-38 The process of discipleship – of being a true Follower of Jesus Christ 

  • “Denying oneself” – this is NOT the same thing as self-denial (I won’t eat chocolate for lent)… no,

        denying oneself says we give up our right to ourselves, our right to run our own lives.

  • “Take up his cross” – again, this is NOT looking at some difficulty and stating, “well, that’s just my

        cross to bear!”  The cross forever stands as a symbol for the circumstances and experiences in our

       life which humble us, expose us, offend our pride, and reveal our basic evil.

  • “Follow Me” – Essentially, this is simply saying “obey me.”  “If you love me, you’ll obey me.  If you

       don’t love me, you won’t obey me.”  Simple in concept; difficult in execution! 

Q:   Is it right to appeal to a person to believe in Jesus for the temporal benefits they’ll receive?

Q:  What expectations of Christ did you have which he has not fulfilled?  Were they biblical? 

Bottom Line: The world has so many different versions of Jesus (Teacher, Prophet, Good Man).  Let’s make no mistake – the Jesus of the Bible is the Christ of the cross.  If anyone wishes to follow Him, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and obey Him.  Until we understand that, we haven’t grasped the primary reason Jesus came to earth.  Take an inventory this week of where you really stand with Jesus…