Faithlife Sermons

A King with a Cross

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A King with a Cross
What are you interested in learning about?
What’s the biggest struggle you have in life? (Most stressful)
How can we help you? (Teaching; fun times)
What’s your favorite part of our youth group?
What’s your favorite part of our youth group?

1) What makes a person a Christian? ()

What makes a person a Christian?
- Church attendance
- Good deeds
- Being baptized
- Church membership
- Being born into a Christian family
- Calling yourself a Christian
Don’t you think we should let Jesus decide? (It is Christianity after all)
Mark 8:34 ESV
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Think about what has happened in Mark
1) In the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus calls the disciples to follow him!
- So following Jesus = being a disciple = being a Christian
2) Jesus just revealed his identity! --> He’s the Christ
- Christ is not his last name --> It’s title that means “anointed”
- Specifically, anointed by God to be king!
- For all these Jewish people ruled by Rome, this meant salvation!
- Jesus: “Yes I’m King --> I’m also going to die”
All of Mark, these huge crowds are following Jesus around to hear his teaching and see his miracles!
- Look at what he says in v. 34!
- “If you want to be my disciple, you have to take up your cross and follow me”
The disciples and the crowd had no clue that Jesus would die on a cross!
- To them, the cross was a symbol of death!
- It was how people were executed!
- The Romans were such jerks that they made you carry your own cross to the place where you would be crucified!
We see a cross, and we think of it as a sign of hope and goodness
- These people hear, “Cross” and think torture, shame, and death!
- “Take up your noose and follow me to the tree where they’ll hang you”
- “Sit down in this electric chair and we’ll wheel you to the outlet”
- “Strap yourself in so they can give you a lethal injection”
Jesus is being radical!
- He’s saying that being a Christian involves a radical sacrifice!
Deny yourself --> Stop living your life as if you are the most important person
Take up your cross --> Die to yourself
Follow Jesus --> Live for Jesus!
Being a Christian means dying to yourself and living for Jesus!
- It’s the shift from a self-centered life to a Jesus-centered life
- It’s letting your dreams and ambitions die and chasing after Jesus’ dreams and ambitions!
- It’s looking at Jesus and saying, “You can do whatever you want with my life. I trust you”
- It’s trusting all of Jesus and none of yourself
Now let me be clear --> That’s not how you get the crowds to love you!
- Jesus isn’t trying to win a popularity contest!
- He’s ride-or-die!
- You’re either with him, or you’re not!
- But this how Jesus defines a Christian!
So why would anyone be Christian?

2) Why would anyone be a Christian? ()

Jesus gets to the heart of this question in the next few verses
Mark 8:35–38 ESV
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.”
If you live for yourself, you’ll actually lose your life!
- A self-centered life leads to destruction
- And honestly --> What could you gain that would be more valuable than your own soul/life?
You need to see how this practically gets worked out in our lives!
- First, you need to realize that you will give your life to something!
- We all have dreams, hopes, and ambitions!
We normally think --> “As long as I’m chasing my dreams, hopes, and ambitions, I’m saving my life; I’m good.”
- Graduating high school and college
- Achieving things in sports
- Making money and doing better for yourself
But we also have problems --> Sins, addictions, and shortcomings!
“If I’m overcome by the ‘bad things’ in life, its more obvious that I’m not okay”
- Becoming an alcoholic or drug addict isn’t on anyone’s to-do list
- Being poor our whole lives isn’t anyone’s life goal.
- We don’t want to be a bad son/brother/father
- Yet all of these things could possibly happen!
Your dreams aren’t not necessarily bad, but they are terrible idols
- If you give yourself completely to your own dreams and hopes, you’ll become a enslaved to them!
- If you give yourself completely to your own dreams and hopes, you’ll become a enslaved to them!
- Your own plans for your life are a terrible King
- You are a terrible captain of your own ship!
I spent every year of my life from the 4th grade up thinking, “I want to play college basketball”
- So you know what I did? --> I worked my butt off!
- During HS, I was at the gym 6:30 every morning to workout before school
- I had a light on the goal at my house
- I played hour after hour after hour in the dark
I read about basketball --> Did special workouts --> Played summer ball
- Had a good HS career!
- Had a chance to go to my local college!
Guess what? --> It was awful
- We stunk as a team, and I was the worst one on the team.
- I was at the end of the bench, and I wasn’t moving anytime soon
- I was angry at my coach, my teammates, and even myself for not being good enough!
I sacrificed so much time and energy thinking, “If I can get this, I’ll be happy!”
- My whole identity was wrapped around myself and my athletic achievements
- But I finally caught my dream, and I was left feeling more empty than ever.
Whatever your chasing will eventually enslave you!
- And all of us are chasing something that we think will complete us!
- Relationships, grades, experiences, athletics, music
None of those things are evil --> They just can’t save you!
- Because ultimately, they depend on what you can do!
- If you’re really honest with yourself, you know that you’re just trying to save yourself and find meaning in a crazy world!
When we bottom out, we feel worthless!
- That’s when we give into the sin and bad things in our life!
- That’s when we run to whatever we believe will comfort us!
- Whether that’s unhealthy friendships, collecting girls as trophies, alcohol, drugs, sex, violence, gossip!
- We turn to those things when we realize what lousy self-saviors we are!
- And guess what? --> You end up enslaved to those things!
And in this text, Jesus is revealing a harsh truth!
- You can’t save yourself! You can only enslave yourself!
And guess what? --> It doesn’t just affect you!
- It ruins relationships, because you can’t expect any girlfriend to save you. And you’ll absolutely crush her if she tries!
- It ruin families --> I can say this from my own life! My family never had more conflict than when I was playing basketball.
- More importantly, it’s offensive to God!
The Bible says that this self-centered pattern of life is the heart of sin!
- We try to save ourselves, but we end up enslaved and worshipping something that isn’t God!
How do your efforts to save our lives lead to destruction?
How do our efforts to save our lives lead to destruction?
(Leaders share personal example of how idolatry hurts us)
But what’s the solution? Every human being in the world has this issue!
- But who in the world could can save us from ourselves?
That’s exactly why Jesus’ message to die to yourself and live for him is good news!

3) Who can save us from ourselves? ()

Mark 8:38 ESV
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.”
This Son of Man language is weird, right? --> Angels, power, glory
- What is Jesus talking about?
Daniel 7:13–14 ESV
13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
About 600 years before Jesus was born, Israel was enslaved to another country!
- God allowed a guy named Daniel to see this vision!
God would appoint a Son of Man to rule over all the world and be worshipped!
- Jesus says, “That’s me! I’m the Son of Man!”
Why is this weird?
- We learned that Jesus was the Christ/King, so it makes sense that he would be the Son of Man!
- But Jesus has already said that he is going to DIE!
The story of Jesus is a story of suffering and triumph!
- Yes, he is the King of heaven, but he descended to earth and lived a humble life!
- He was treated terribly! --> So much so that he died at the hands of sinners for sinners!
- He literally went into a tomb, and they rolled a stone across the entrance!
But his story doesn’t end there! He finds victory through death!
- Death couldn’t hold him, and 3 days later he rose from the dead and ascended to heaven!
- That’s what is about! The resurrected Jesus being crowned!
That brings us back to
- One days, King Jesus is coming back with the glory of God angels in tow!
- He will make all things right! --> He’s going to get rid of sin and death for good!
- However, if you want to live with Jesus in eternity, you must trust him in the present!
He’s being real with the crowd!
- One day the crucified Savior will come back as a conquering King, and you can’t have the crown of Jesus without the cross of Jesus!
- You can’t be ashamed of Jesus’ cross and expect him to save you on the last day!
- He’s not a nerdy friend that you can be nice just when you need to cheat on a test!
He’s saying “I won’t be manipulated! You’ll either die to yourself and follow me, or you’ll have no part in me!
That is exactly what we need!
- You may be thinking, “That’s too big of a commitment. I can’t just give myself to this Jesus guy”
- “I’m my own person. I’m not bowing the knee to King Jesus”
But this is where it all starts to make sense!
- We can’t save ourselves from our own sin! --> We run ourselves into the ground!
- We’re so self-obsessed that we can’t even see it!
- We need someone that is so inescapably good, that we can’t help but give our lives to him!
- We need a King worth dying for!
Look at Jesus! --> He is a king who bore a cross!
- He is God in the flesh taking the punishment for our sins!
- He is good King, and he can call you take up your cross because he took up his!
- He bore God’s judgment so that we wouldn’t have to!
- But if we refuse him, we’ll face the wrath of God’s judgment for our own sin!
Who can rescue us from ourselves?
- A king with a cross!
Are you seeing how this fits together?
- Yes, Christianity is hard!
- Jesus calls us to radically reorient our lives around him instead of ourselves!
That makes no sense at first, but when you realize that Jesus died for you, it changes everything!
- When you realize that Jesus is King of the universe, yet he died naked on a cross, you are much less impressed with yourself!
- You see how good Jesus is, and you are willing to take up your cross!
You die to yourself, and you actually start to live!
- It actually frees you from worshipping yourself to love God and love others!
- Example —> marriage and friendship
- The Christian life is one of dying so we can live!
- It’s only possible because Jesus died for us!
All death
How does dying to ourselves and living for Jesus actually bring freedom to our lives?
How does dying to ourselves and living for Jesus actually bring freedom to our lives?
In fact, it reveals just how selfish and sinful you are!
- His humility puts a spotlight on our need for a Savior!
Maybe you’re putting this together for the first time.
- Maybe you’ve heard about getting saved or becoming a Christian, but never really thought much about it!
- But don’t you think Jesus is being clear?
I would urge you to talk to us if you want to follow Jesus! Just grab one of us and say, “I wanna know more” or “I wanna do that!”
- I can say from my life that Jesus is worth it!
- So stop trusting yourself and trust all of Jesus! --> That’s the core of Christianity!
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