I remember long ago, being at the McDonald’s slides and tunnels where the kids could run and play. At the end of each tunnel was a window where you could see the children playing inside. One day my son (age 5) grabbed one of the little girls and put her in a headlock. The little girl started screaming for her mommy and all the moms looked up and to my horror – there was my son holding this sweet little girl hostage right in front of the window!
I yelled up to him – “let her go”.
He did nothing and the little girl continued to scream for her mother.
Helplessly, I again yelled – “let her go”.
And still nothing.
By this time, the mother of the little girl was ready to enter the tubes to save her child and I was ready to run the opposite direction and act like I’d never seen that little boy before. Lol!
This reminds me of Mark 8:38. Jesus says – if you are ashamed of me and my words in front of sinful people, then I’ll be ashamed of you in front of God the Father and the angels.
Are you ashamed to call yourself a follower of Christ?
What’s the opposite of being ashamed of someone? Being proud to be associated with someone.
In Mark 8:34-38, Jesus tells us how we as Christians should live:
34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he (Jesus) said to them,
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
37 For what can a man give in return for his soul?
38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Let’s take an in-depth look at some difficult words from Jesus that will challenge your soul:
1.) “If anyone”
Jesus says anyone can follow Him. Anyone who is young, old, male, female, no matter what sins you have committed – anyone and everyone is invited to follow Jesus.
The word “would” shows it’s a choice. Will you follow or won’t you follow?
3.) “Come after me”
Jesus’ invitation includes that He be at the lead. We come after Him. We have to follow him – we can’t choose our own path or go our own way. We walk behind him.
4.) “Let him deny himself”
Denying yourself means you’re going to say no to yourself and humbly submit to God’s will. You’re not going to focus on pleasing yourself. You won’t be selfish. You won’t be exalting yourself or asserting yourself above Jesus and his commands. If anyone comes after Jesus, it’s a denial of self and a commitment to him fully.
5.) “Take up his cross and follow me.”
This is not an invitation to a party. A call to take up the cross, is a call to come and die. It is a call to be willing to sacrifice to follow Jesus. It means that no matter what someone says or does to us – we will not deny Christ.
6.) “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
When we decide to live our lives only to please ourselves – we lose.
But when we lay down our life for Jesus’ sake – we win.
This seems to be backwards because the loss of worldly things feels like such a huge loss in this world. But our lives here on earth are but a vapor. They are short and the eternal rewards will far outweigh any losses we suffer here on earth.
7.) “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”
We can hold onto this world and embrace it and love it and live it up but what do we gain?
And what do we lose?
Do not trade in your soul for this world.
8.) “For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
This is serious. There are eternal consequences. We cannot think that we will turn our nose up at God during our life here on earth and then an exception will be made for us in heaven.
There are no loop holes or exceptions.
God is watching and He knows who is fully committed to following after Him. And those who are not, He will be ashamed of in the end. He will not be associated with you because He never knew you.
We all long for the comforts of heaven but are we willing to sacrifice now for His sake? Many follow Jesus right up until it gets hard, then they fall away.
Jesus does not promise a comfy, cozy, perfect life.
He promises a cross to his followers.
A cross where we come and die to ourselves and follow Him.
Every morning when I wake up, there is nothing godly within me. I have to deny myself over and over and over again to follow Jesus.
Will you commit to follow Jesus no matter what the cost?
Are you ashamed to call yourself a follower of Christ or is it an honor for you to be associated with Jesus?
Who do you follow?
In the end, this will be the only question that matters. Your answer determines your eternity.
These difficult words from Jesus challenge our soul.
Do not trade in your soul for this world.
Walk with the King,