Denial and Cross-Bearing

Denial and Cross-bearing

Denial and Cross-Bearing

(Mark 8:34-35)

  • “And He [Jesus] summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it'” (NASB).

Does this sound like the demand placed on people today who wish to become a follower of Christ–a Christian? In this age of “comfortable Christianity,” do the words of Jesus really speak to us? In this day of “easy believism,” in which one simply “invites Jesus into his heart,” the words of Christ sound strange indeed! His terms of discipleship seem too demanding, too stringent, too radical!

Our Lord made it clear that no half-hearted, nominal, would-be disciples were welcome. What was required of one who wished to “come after” Jesus? He must “deny himself.” He must deny his own will in favor of Christ’s will. He must deny His own pursuit of sin, pleasure, and an easy life. He must say “no” to what he would naturally want to do if Jesus were not his Lord. Basically, he must deny himself.

Further, Christ says that he must “take up his cross.” Just as Jesus took up His own literal cross and went to Golgotha (John 19:17) where he was put to death by crucifixion (John 19:17-18,30), so we must take up the cross of suffering and shame in order to follow in the steps of our Lord (1 Peter 2:21). Our self-denial and confession of Christ must be to the point of literal death, if necessary! (Matt. 10:32-33). Jesus continued by saying that we must “follow” Him. We must willingly die to ourselves and follow Him who died for us. We must follow the One who is our Lord–obeying His will, His commands, His every word (Luke 6:46).

Verse 35 is a paradox, but it contains a truth that separates the genuine disciple from the false disciple. If we wish to “save” our life by seeking compromising pleasures, carnal activities, immoral relationships, earthly riches, and acceptance by the world, then we will lose out on eternal life. On the other hand, if we are willing to “lose” our earthly life here, with all of its pride, pleasure, popularity, and possessions, and even suffer physical death for the sake of Christ and His gospel, then we will inherit eternal life with God!

Jesus goes on to ask, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37). If one does seek to save his life here, even to the point of gaining the entire world and its glory (cf. Luke 4:5-6), what genuine and lasting profit is there in this? And what eternal benefit would this bring? In light of spiritual realities and an eternal relationship with God, how can we even contemplate choosing whatever the world has to offer?

The words of Jesus speak to us today, for the majority of us are wedded to this world and this present age. We are largely concerned about our brief earthly life and fail to take the demands of Christ seriously. However, if we value our life and desire eternal life, let us wake up and listen to Jesus! How plain and how radical are the demands of the Lord—but how eternally needful!

Are you willing to deny yourself? Are you willing to take up the cross of suffering and shame and trials for Jesus’ sake? Are you willing to lose your life that you might have eternal life, the life that will never end?

Richard Hollerman

Comments are closed.