The Heavy Cost of Discipleship — Mark 8:34-38

Remember the flow of the passage in this key heart of the gospel of Mark — chapter 8: Confessing Who Jesus really is = testimony of Peter = “Thou are the Christ.”  Understanding His Messiahship led to Christ teaching his disciples about His Mission – the key elements of Suffering, Rejection, Death, Resurrection – teaching these things clearly.

Now Jesus is going to move to the true meaning of Discipleship.

Huge debate in Christian circles today over whether the category of “Disciple” is a subset of Christians or synonymous with Christians.  If you are not a disciple are you not even a Christian?  Or can you be some type of carnal Christian and be on your way to heaven and just not have made the higher commitment to following Jesus as your Lord?  Context here is clear that the downside of not embracing discipleship is the loss of eternal life

Mark 10:17, 30 – the reward is eternal life (not some crown for being an elite believer);

John 8:12 to have the Light of Life”; to attach yourself to Jesus by faith

Alan Carr: Jesus would have been a public relations manager’s nightmare! Every time He began to attract a large following, Jesus would up the ante. He would tell them how high the cost of following Him would be and the crowds would vanish. Jesus did this so that people would know the truth. He wanted them to know that it would not be cheap or easy to be His disciples . .

THE REDEMPTIVE MISSION OF JESUS CHRIST CAN ONLY BE EMBRACED BY RELINQUISHING HUMAN AUTONOMY AND SUBMITTING TO DIVINE LORDSHIP AS A GENUINE DISICPLE [WHICH WILL INCLUDE REJECTION AND SUFFERING]

AUDIENCE:

And He summoned the multitude with His disciples, and said to them,

widening the audience —

This is a message Jesus intended to be delivered to the masses, not just to his inner core of followers; there is tremendous opportunity to be aligned with Jesus, to be part of the kingdom of God … but there is tremendous cost as well … don’t misunderstand the distinction between the wide gate that leads to destruction and the narrow gate that leads to salvation

Many were only following Him because of His miracles

MacArthur: Those of us who have been in the church for any length of time are used to invitations. They have been a part of the church, at least in America, for many, many years. Perhaps today there will be thousands of invitations given across America in churches to sinners to come to Christ. However, I think I’m safe in saying that few of them will follow the pattern of our Lord’s own invitation. Here is the standard. Here is the archetypal invitation. Here is the model for all invitations and one that is not always followed. . .

Context:  Jesus says, “I’m going to die.” And then He says this, “By the way, if you follow Me, there’s a cross for you too…there’s a cross for you too. There’s no glory without suffering. There’s no crown without a cross. And here comes the invitation. “If anyone wishes to come after Me,” it’s an open invitation, isn’t it? If anyone wishes to come after Me? If anyone.

I.  (:34) COMMITMENT TO DISCIPLESHIP

A.  Universal Invitation to Discipleship –

Do You Want to Follow Jesus Christ?

If anyone wishes to come after Me,

Summary Requirement: “Come after me

Attach oneself to Jesus as a disciple of His; allegiance to Jesus

B.  Universal Requirements for Discipleship – Emphasizing the Heavy Cost

Followers of Jesus Christ Must Make 3 Irrevocable Commitments:

Not 3 things that happen in chronological order … first one, then the next … but rather 3 things that are an indication of true conversion happening all at once – followed by a lifelong pursuit of sanctification

Requires the grace of God; impossible by human effort

Hiebert: Three conditions are laid down.  The first two are decisive acts, the third is a continuing relationship.

  1. Self Renunciation = Relinquish the Throne — Surrender

let him deny himself,

MacArthur: What it means is, to disown, to refuse to associate with, or to companion with someone. That’s what the verb means. What you are saying is, “I no longer want to associate with the person that I am. I realize my sinfulness. I realize I cannot earn this. I abandon myself effort. I abandon the works/righteousness system that dominated Judaism and dominates all religion in the world, you can be good enough for God to accept you. I abandon all self-effort. I abandon all self-confidence. But it’s more than that. I abandon all self-will. I abandon my own ambitions, my own agenda, my own plans.”

Not just denying yourself certain things you might want to have; this is the repudiation of your sovereign autonomy

Cf. Catholic practice of denying themselves something for Lent … as if there is some type of meritorious grace that accrues to them if they give up their special dessert for a season

Hiebert: as a definite act, renounce the claims of self as no longer the supreme object of regard.  The aorist imperative stipulates this as a crisis duty.  The disciple must no longer make his own interests and desires the supreme concern of his life.  He must “turn away” from the idolatry of self-centeredness.

Example of Apostle Paul: Phil. 3:7-11  gave up his former life and did not count it as having any value to gain him eternity

  1. Cross Bearing = Embrace Rejection and Suffering (Even to the Point of Death) – Sacrifice

and take up his cross,

Hiebert: Aorist imperative again demands the acceptance of the cross as a definite act. this is what the condemned prisoner was forced to carry on the road to his execution; but here the genuine disciple must commit to carry his cross willingly, voluntarily

Not the Prosperity Gospel here

James Edwards: An image of extreme repugnance, the cross was an instrument of cruelty, pain, dehumanization, and shame.  The cross symbolized hated Roman oppression and was reserved for the lowest social classes. . . designed to punish criminals and quash slave rebellions.

Wrong views of Cross Bearing:

  • Common sufferings experienced in life
  • Some special difficulty that is peculiar to you – like Paul’s thorn in the flesh

MacArthur: The cross here is kind of a metaphor for suffering. Not every believer who comes to Christ will die, but they’re suffering along the way, rejection by family, by relatives, by the people we work with, and people we know, people we care about.

David Legge: To take up your cross means to deliberately choose a pathway of rejection, of suffering, of loneliness, of betrayal, of denial, of hatred, of insults, of persecution, of mental anguish – even death for Christ’s sake, for Christ’s and the Gospel’s! That’s what it means to take up your cross.

  1. Submissive Obedience = Commit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ — Submission

and follow Me.

Hiebert: Present tense denotes a continuing relationship

Involves imitation of Christ

1 Peter 2:21  “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,

Repentance and Faith – followed by Baptism – are the first steps along that discipleship path

Brian Borgman: 2 inter-related aspects of following Jesus:

  • To participate in the salvation which He offers (Mark 10: 17,21 – question deals with salvation; answer is “Come, follow me”) – I surrender all – get rid of the obstacle that is between you and the kingdom (selling all you have is not a prescription for everyone);

  • To participate in the sufferings of Jesus – not the imitation of Christ in terms of monkish self asceticism; embrace the sufferings involved in being the servant of Christ; all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution; Blessed are you when men persecute you – Sermon on the Mount; John 15 – if the world hated me it will hate you; gospel spreading most where it costs the most to follow Jesus Christ

Application: Are you truly a follower of Jesus Christ?

II.  (:35-37) CASE FOR CHOOSING DISCIPLESHIP

Sproul: Lesson in spiritual economics

Lawson: Why would anyone every accept such a radical invitation as Jesus has just given?

Next 4 verses start with “For” (gar) – explanatory

3 reasons given for choosing to embrace path of discipleship to Jesus Christ

A.  (:35) Paradox of Discipleship – How Can You Save Your Soul?

Embracing Discipleship is the Only Way of Salvation

“For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it;

but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it.

Alan Carr: This verse is a paradox. A paradox is a statement that seems contradictory, but is still true. Jesus says that if you believe that having your own way, living life on your own terms and being your own lord is more important than surrendering to His Lordship, you will lose your life. However, if you will yield your life to Him, giving up total control over all you have and are to Him, you will actually save it.  From a human perspective this makes no sense, but from heaven’s viewpoint, nothing else makes sense.

Illustration: John 12:24-26  “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 “He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal. 26 “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”

Ryle: One object of our Lord in saying these words was evidently to prevent His disciples looking for good things in this life, if they followed Him.  They must give up their Jewish ideas about temporal rewards and honors in Messiah’s service.  They must understand that His kingdom was entirely spiritual, and that if they were His disciples they must be content to lose much in this life, in order to gain the glory of the life to come.  So far from promising them temporal rewards, He would have them distinctly know that they must give up much and sacrifice much if they wanted to be saved.

The other object our Lord had in view in saying these words was to teach all Christians in every age, that like Him they must make up their minds to sacrifice much, and to die to the world, in the hope of a harvest of glory in a world to come.  Through death we must seek life.  Eternal life must be the great end, a Christian looks to.  To attain it he must be willing to give up everything.

look at all the things you can lose in life – just don’t lose your soul

Illustration: got Karen a Tile for Christmas – new technology – help you find your car keys or anything you attach the tile to

B.  (:36-37) Precious Value of the Soul – What is Your Soul Worth?

Embracing Discipleship Reflects the True Value of the Soul (of Eternal Life)

  1. (:36)  Soul is More Valuable Than the Whole World

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?

Illustration: Profit and Loss statements – the financial balance sheet that you look at every month in running a company

  1. (:37)  Soul is More Valuable Than Anything Imaginable

For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

How valuable is your soul?

Quote by missionary Jim Elliott: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Illustration: Shark Tank – all about the valuation of your company and what type of financial deal makes sense

III.  (:38)  CONDEMNATION OF COUNTERFEIT DISCIPLESHIP

Reason #3: Embracing Discipleship is the Only Way to Escape Condemnation at Final Judgment

A.  The Exposure of Counterfeit Discipleship

For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words

Who is Jesus talking about here?

1 John 2:28 passage “Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.”

Matt. 10:32-33everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”

Alan Carr: The true believer may suffer in this life, but the true believer will enter into the joys of Heaven when this life ends. The lost person, on the other hand, might enjoy the best this world has to offer, but when this life is ended, they will face God in judgment and spend eternity in Hell. Which ending would you prefer?

B.  The Peer Pressure Against Authentic Discipleship

in this adulterous and sinful generation,

James Edwards:  Jesus repeats the language of the prophets, who accused Israel of infidelity, hardness of heart, and spiritual adultery (Isa 57:3-13; Ezek 16:32-41; Hos 2:2-6).

C.  The Denunciation of Counterfeit Discipleship

the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him

Steven Lawson: Matt. 7:23I never knew you”; Matt. 25:41; the way of the cross will be seen to have been the way of glory; Jesus will deny you and throw you out

D.  The Timeframe for the Final Accounting

when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

2 Thess. 1:7 – context of suffering for the cause of Christ followed by return of Jesus Christ in glory with His holy angels to repay with eternal retribution

CONCLUSION:

You can’t be a friend of the world and a friend of God

You can’t serve both God and Mammon

Only 2 gates – the narrow gate and the broad gate

Is your allegiance to the kingdom of God or to the kingdom of this world which is really the kingdom of darkness, the kingdom of Satan.

Which way will it be in your life??  Are you committed to following Christ as His loyal disciple??