Lesson 210-February 23, 2020
Lesson: “Not So Easy Discipleship”
Scripture: Primary Passage: Mark 8:34-37; Primary Text: Mark 8:34; Parallel Passages: Matthew 16:24-26 and Luke 9:23-25.
Lesson Goal: To better understand the road of a true follower (disciple) of Jesus Christ.
Introduction: We must never forget that every believer is a work in progress. Sanctification is a process not a one time event. The lyrics of a time proven children’s song helps us to understand the theological signif-icance of sanctification.
He’s still working one me
To make me what I need to be
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How living and patient He must be
‘Cause He’s still workin’ on me.
There really ought to be a sign upon my heart
Don’t judge him yet, there’s an unfinished part.
But I’ll be better just according to His plan
Fashioned by the Master’s loving hands
He’s still working on me!
Peter that had stood so tall to declare Jesus as the Messiah at Caesarea Philippi had quickly erred becoming a potential stumbling block to the plan and purposes of God in Jesus’ mission as the redemptive Messiah. Alt-hough “Peter erred greatly on that day near Caesarea Philippi, he would still come to understand and cherish the cross deeply. Less than a year later, on the Day of Pentecost, he would boldly stand in Jerusalem with the other apostles and proclaim the gospel of a crucified and resurrected Messiah (Acts 2:22-24). Near the end of his life, writing to believers in Asia Minor, Peter explained the glorious significance of the crucifixion (I Peter 3:18). What the disciples considered to be the ultimate bad news on that day near Caesarea Philippi was, in reality, the best news the world has ever received. It was the very heart of the gospel. By dying and rising again, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, paid the penalty for sin and conquered death, so that all who believe in Him might have eternal life (John 3:16; 6:40; Romans 10:9-10; II Corinthians 5:20-21). MacArthur
(v34) When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also; He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.
Mark tells us that others joined along with His disciples at this point and Jesus speaks to all. Jesus begins by using a conditional clause, If anyone wants to follow after me, (Whoever desires to come after Me).” This is followed by three imperatives: 1) “deny himself, 2) take up his cross, and 3) follow me.”
I pause from my writing in the chambers of my basement to offer you a personal testimony of God’s wonder-ful love. Deep in study, eyes and body exhausted by a day of writing that began at 4:45 this morning with my watch now reading 7:01 pm, interrupted by the sweet voice of my granddaughter saying, “Pop I have some-thing for you.” With her beautiful smile and her outstretched hand she gives me a piece of paper and a KitKat
Well, now I’m finished writing for the day but I will just sit a spell and enjoy the joy and truth of God’s love while I munch on this KitKat bar and count my many, many blessings. The writing of the lesson will be con-tinued in the morning, God willing. For now thank you God for my sweet, sweet Sofia and the love shown by a KitKat! Truly the best KitKat I have ever eaten!
Jesus having explained earlier (v31) to the disciples of His own suffering, rejection, and death, now gives His attention to the fact that this will also be the path for those who wish to follow Him. In (v34) Jesus speaks words that affirm the faith of His true followers.
This verse is often overlooked, discarded or dismissed from many pulpits and educational classrooms in 2020. The popular prosperity gospel (false) that claims health, wealth, and prosperity as a result of some super higher positive faith knows nothing of the true gospel and cost of discipleship as presented by Jesus Himself. For those unbelievers that heard Jesus’ words “Whoever desires to come after me” the invitation was extended but to do so and follow Him would be with a cost. We must understand the free gift of salvation purchased with the blood of Jesus is truly free but the path of following Him often comes at a great cost. Many that were lis-tening to Jesus that day would experience that cost! The road of following Jesus is not a road of ease or com-fort. Jesus clearly stated that truth in verse 34.
“let him deny himself” “take up his cross” “and follow me”
The essence of “let him deny himself” is the fact that for the follower of Jesus (believer, disciple) the self-centered life must be put to death. The follower of Jesus must put aside, put to death self righteousness, self indulgence, self promotion, self direction, all aspects of self that are garnered under the idol of I and Me. The follower of Jesus is called to treasure, value, and love Jesus more than self! This is not merely done by some one time verbalized confession or as is popular in our day saying or repeating some one time prayer. It is done by the surrender of life in faith to Jesus Christ and as a result of true faith in Christ. There is the putting aside of self and living as Christ directs. Self is no longer the master of our lives. Jesus is Master! Jesus says in (v34) in essence, “if anyone wants to follow after me, he must follow me! The word “deny” -Greek “aparneomai” is a strong, intense word meaning “to have no association with”, “to disown completely”, “to say no.” This denial of self is a complete turn from our self centeredness to God centeredness.
The word “take up” Greek “apato” is also a very strong and intense word. It is used in reference to “his cross.” Thus for the true follower of Jesus Christ there must be the willingness to die to self and a willingness to walk the path of temporary suffering and sacrifice. (Please read II Corinthians 4:17-18).
“follow me”- “follow” -A present imperative tense verb in the Greek meaning a repeated, continuous action. According to Kenneth Wuest, the idea is not just that of following behind “but that of accompanying the other person, taking the same road that he takes and fellowshipping with him along the road.” The Greek work “akoloutheo” “follow” is the same verb found in John 10:27.
I close today’s lesson borrowing from a portion of an expositional sermon preached by this writer on John 10:3, “And they follow Me”-No matter how we intellectually reason or religiously dissect it, no matter how we offer dialogue or debate, we cannot remove “and they follow Me.” No matter how we try to put our Baptist spin or add our Baptist flavor to it, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us or how uneasy it makes us feel, no matter how it challenges us-we cannot remove “And they follow Me.”
We would dare not try to remove it so we must offer some self satisfying suitable explanation for it. So then begins our quest to explain it, to offer some logical, reasonable self satisfying explanation for these words. “And they follow Me.” A reasonable explanation being defined as one that allows us to balance our commit-ment and our comfort. A reasonable summation that allows us to gladly receive “hear My voice” but allows us
the freedom to reduce and minimize for our own liking, “And they follow Me!”
We want to maximize the grace, mercy, forgiveness part of “hear My voice” but then minimize or qualify to our agreement “And they follow Me!” We need what I call “operational space” to justify our maximizing of one Scripture while minimizing another. In this case to justify our lack of following. NO matter how we try to rationalize we cannot remove “as you have received Jesus Christ the Lord, so walk in Him!” Nor can we de-lete “as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in your conduct!”
No matter how hard we try, Scripture will not allow us to separate faith from following.
Special Announcement: Next Sunday, March 1, 2020 we will not be meeting for Life Focus Class, instead the first annual MHBC Ministry Fair will be conducted. During this time we will have the opportunity to learn about and see approximately 40 of the ongoing ministries of MHBC. It will be a great time of fellowship, as well as, a time of learning of the various ministries of this church. See you next Sunday in the gym