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Mark 8 Whatever it takes

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Title:  Whatever it takes

Text: Mark 8:34-35

Must Jesus bear the cross alone and all the world go free? No, there’s a cross for ev’ry one, and there’s a cross for me.

Introduction:  Our text opens up with Jesus in full swing of his ministry.  In chapter 8 of Mark’s Gospel, we find Jesus operating as the ultimate servant feeding 4000 and healing a blind man.  People were astonished all but one group, the Pharisee needed a sign for proof that Jesus was the one had come to fulfill the prophecy of the Messiah.  As He traveled the Galilean region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked his disciple who did people say that he was because of the signs, miracles and teaching that he displayed.  They said some say that you are John the Baptist, some say Elijah or one of the prophets. But then he takes the focus off what other people say about him and He asked those closest to Him, his disciples, who He is. (People close to you should know who you really are).  As sure as Jesus could finish his sentence, quick mouth Peter had an answer. You are the Christ!  Peter had the right answer.  He told him to keep it on the low because it was not time for anyone to know.  (Everyone is not ready for the real you).  So he began teaching them on how the Son of man must suffer, be rejected and killed but all to rise again in 3 days.  This did not sound good to Peter. He pulled Jesus aside and said, “man you can’t say that”.  Peter could only accept the glory but not the full story of who Jesus is and what he had to do to full his purpose for salvation of the world.  So Jesus rebukes Peter and says “Get thee behind me Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God”.  Satan is a deceiver. He always wants you to look for the easy way. Peter wanted the easy way for Jesus.  He couldn’t understand the suffering Messiah.  My beloved, success doesn’t come easy.  Victory is not a walk in the park.  Jesus spoke to the lie of the world of what it takes to have true pleasure, discovering your purpose and living victorious.  Jesus was committed to endure the suffering and hardship as model of victory.  He was willing to do whatever it takes and challenges us today to do the same.  So are you will to do whatever it takes?

I.               Are you willing to answer the call?  V. 34a

If you are willing to following Jesus, the first thing you have to do is to answer the call to serve.  The text says he called the near by spectators to him with the disciples.  This first tells us that not only Jesus calls those who are in positions to be closer to Jesus but all people.  Jesus is giving a clarion call to come even closer to receive what he has to say to those he came to serve.  Jesus is calling you to come closer!  He doesn’t want you to be an outsider.  He wants you near to him so you can receive what He has to offer.  The problem is sometimes that we are too far away.  Being so far away gives to much room for things to get in the way for us moving closer (list).   But this crowd that was following Jesus around waiting for his next move was close enough to hear what he had to say.  They were not the disciples but they were close enough to be blessed!  Many of you are like these people, you have been following Jesus around watching but now it is time to answer the call and come close!  But some of us can’t hear the call because we are so far away.  We are too far out there!  Jesus wants you closer!

II.         Are you willing to accept the character challenge? V. 34b

After Jesus calls everyone together, he then says the to attentive listeners, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself…To deny ones self means to surrender yourself completely to Jesus.  It means to lay down you desires for his desires.  It is forget about yourself and focus on Jesus only.  This is a struggle for us because we love ourselves too much.  We like what we like and we want do what we want to do.  This is why it is character challenge.  Our character is who we are. It is our identity.  It is challenging because we are proud and narcissistic.  We don’t want to humble ourselves.  Deny yourself… is paradoxical to how we are in the world.  In the world, we are taught to be the man or the woman, creating our own destiny.  Arrogance and pride is a part of the worldly formula of success.  But it don’t work like that in the kingdom. In the kingdom, in order to be up you got to get down and serve!  Jesus showed us how to do it when he washed the disciple’s feet. And he taught that the first shall be last and last shall be first.  The Lord is about to do an about face in you life when you humble yourself and take the character challenge! He is going to turn some stuff around if you humble yourself. 

III.    Are you willing to make the commitment? V.34c

Next, if you are willing to do what it takes, you have to make a commitment.  Following Jesus is not going to easy.  You got to go all the way.  You can show up when you want.  You always got to be ready and on point.  The text says “and take up his cross”.  There is a real difficulty in this text.  But the real struggle for the Jewish ears listen to Jesus says this is the tragedy associated with the cross itself.  Jesus is prophetically referring to the death he would encounter. The cross was the as tool for Roman crucifixion. It was used for the punishment of Jews.  So Jesus is telling us the type of commitment that is going to be needed if we really are willing to do what it takes.  He is telling us to pick up or lift up the very thing that is going to kill you.  Pick up your hardship, your struggle, and your disappointment. Take responsibility. This is a solid commitment.  But let’s look a little closer.  In order to pick something up you have to touch it.  In other words embrace your pain.  This is the problem. Many us of don’t like to touch our problems.  Jesus is saying touch it because it is real.  Lift it up!  If you can pick it up, it tells me that even though it is burden you can handle.  Jesus said it you can do it. So pick it up don’t run from it.  Take ownership of it.  You have it! It does not have you. 

IV.       Are you will to stay the course? V. 34d

If you willing to do what it takes, after heeding to the call, after getting your character challenged by denying your self and making a commitment to take up your cross… the Lord just does not want you to pick your cross and be stagnant.  He wants you to follow Jesus while staying the course!  Staying the course means to follow the path that Jesus has laid out for you.  You may be carrying a burden but you do have a destination.  You are going somewhere. Jeremiah 29:11 says that I know the plans that I have for you plans to prosper and not harm plans to give you a hope and future even though it is painful! God looks at your life from the end to the beginning. Every detail has been laid out for you. You just have to take you cross and stay the course.  The problem is that we get of the road that will lead us to victory.  Have you ever seen those cartoons where the character would race and one would be sneaky and take a shortcut to get ahead of the pack?  They would be so confident that they would win because cheated but they did not know that they got caught on tape.  When they would do an instant replay they would find out the road that they took to win was not the course set out for them.  My brothers and my sisters, stay on the course. Don’t cheat!  God is doesn’t need an instant replay. He is all knowing.  All you doing is disqualifying yourself.  The road you may chose for your self may be a little smoother. It may have less hills to climb.  But God is always right!  His way is the best way!  I don’t know about you but I am going to stay the course! 

Result: You will be a champion! v.35

A champion means that you win.  But champion means you over came difficult obstacles or challenges.  That is what carrying the cross is about!  What do you win when you deny yourself pick up your cross and follow Jesus?  Look at the text.  Verse 35 says, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.”  You win an abundant life in Christ. You win by losing!  But look whose life you losing yours for.  It is a good thing that you are will to die for your spouse or your kids.  But when you lose it for Jesus he is the only one able to give you your life back and better than before!  You will have victory over your cross. That means you will be a champion!  But let’s make sure that we are theologically correct.  Jesus never told us something he was not ready to do.  He tells us prophetically what he was going to for you and I.  He heard the call from God the Father humble himself to show us his character even though he was God the son.  He made a commitment to pick up his cross.  But his cross was our cross.  He picked it and stayed on course to a hill called Calvary.  Being beat and spat on.  He stayed the course.  He was ridiculed and shamed but he stayed the course! Weakened and bruised but he stayed the course!  But one thing that Jesus shows us about taking up our cross and following him.  He only carried his cross to a certain point. My beloved you only have bear for so long.  He got to a certain point and was nailed to his burden.  It was the tipping point.  Trouble don’t last always God will prevail!  Like Jesus we have bear it until we die completely to self and God show up and raises us up out of the hell we are in to make us Champion! 

I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

2     Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow,
No turning back, no turning back.

3     My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
No turning back, No turning back.

4     The world behind me, the cross before me,
No turning back, no turning back.

No cross no crown! 

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