A portion of today’s sermon from Mark 8 preached at St. Michael’s in White City.
Mark 8:34-37: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
If you are going to follow Jesus – you’re going to have to do it HIS way. And the way of Jesus is one that runs counter to the world we live in. The way of Jesus may even be different from the way we think God should work. We want a life of ease – Jesus says we must deny ourselves. We want comfort – Jesus offers a cross. We want to live life the way that WE want to live our lives – Jesus says you can gain the whole world and still lose your soul.
What does this mean in our every day life? It means doing the washing up when I’d rather be watching TV. It means spending time with my elderly neighbor when I’m tired and rather be home by myself. It means loving my wife and children with the words that I say, even when they don’t deserve it.
Do I always do that? No way. I don’t think anyone in the world succeeds at always denying their own desires. We look out for number one. And yet Jesus says here – “If you want to be my disciple, you must deny yourself.” We have a problem.
But there is one who did completely deny himself. He fully denied himself and literally took up a cross. He literally lost his life so that you and I can have life if we are united with him by faith. Jesus starts his journey to Jerusalem where he will die an ugly death on the cross. It was not a path of adoring crowds cheering on their conquering hero but a path of suffering, pain and death but also a path which included the resurrection.
If you are going to be a follower of Jesus – it is a path of denying yourself and letting King Jesus take charge. It will not be easy, but let me assure you – it will bring you life in full. The good life now as God intended life to be lived with other human beings and the good life later because your sins are forgiven and you have peace with God.