You Have To Give It Up
Text: Mark 8:34
Title: Lose to win
Introduction: Our world is so health conscience these days that we even have game shows that focus on our physical well being. The show the Biggest Loser is a game show that the contestants who are all over weight compete in a strict regime of diet and exercise to shed of unhealthy weight for a better quality of life. The one who loses the most weight not only enjoys the better life of having new body and fit lifestyle but they also win a large sum of money. They lose to win. They deny who they have been for years, heavy and unhealthy to become a new person by losing weight and gaining a new life. The biggest loser wins. This parallels our life in Christ. If you lose your life to serve and follow him, we will be the biggest loser because you denounced who you are and what you desire to follow Jesus Him. However, the more you lose of yourselve, the more you win in Him!
Consecration v. 34
In order to become the biggest loser, the contestants of this show had to change their lifestyles to one that was designed for their success in weight loss. They set them selves apart to take on a regimented daily routine and make a personal commitment for this cause. In Christendom, we would call this type of behavior consecration. Here in our text Jesus calls the crowd of people and His disciples to himself and gives instructions on what to do if they really want to follow him. Up until now they were only following him because of what He did. They were awestruck on how demonstrated the works of God. They were a crowd of curious people. But Jesus wants more than curiosity, He wanted commitment. And he tells them in this text what it will take to be a true follower of His. He says to the crowd and the disciples, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me”. Notice he called the crowd and the disciples together. This tells us this commitment is just not for leaders but for all who call on Jesus as Lord. It takes more than going after his blessings to be one of Jesus’ followers. What it takes is your consecration to his call. Consecration means to be set apart for God and his service. From this text, we see what a consecrated life entails. First, it tells us that it doesn’t matter who you are, how much money you have or who you know, you just have to be willing to come after Jesus. Other translations of this text use the word desire which tells us that it is an inward burning feeling in your heart to come to Jesus. Following Jesus is a heart thing. Not only is this a heart thing but this is a selfless thing. The text says that in order to come to Jesus you have to deny yourself. To deny yourself means more than just to stop doing certain things that you like to do. Like stop eating fried chicken or you stop cursing. To deny yourself means to put others first. It means to place someone else’s needs above yours. It is all about self abandonment. In other words, it means, “it is not about you”. You must decrease so Jesus can increase. The next part of this consecration from the text is that you must take up our cross. Mark is writing to Roman Christians in this text. They knew what it really meant when they heard the word “cross”. The cross was used for brutal execution of criminals. Jesus is telling them to pick up and carry that burden that wants to kills you. He is saying pick up that hard thing that is personal to you and carry it. What this means to us now is our sacrificial serve. (Rom. 12:2) It means to carry the burden that only you can do. It means to carry your issue and not let our issue carry us. There are some things in our life that we are personally called to do and to serve. They are so hard and stressful it can feel like it is killing you. But the bad part is that is for you to deal with. You have to carry it. Even through it is heavy, you have to pick it up and not ignore it, not cross over it but endure the pain of it. Somebody’s cross is your family. Somebody’s cross is their personal struggle but what ever it is, pick up and don’t put down. Lastly about consecration, it is that your not just picking up your burden and wandering aimlessly but you have a direction to head in. You must follow after Jesus. You have to pursue and mimic his life style of sacrificial service. This is because He carried your cross as His reasonable service. Now we are to walk in his footsteps. But our problem is that we take our cross and go our own direction which leads to more problems. But we have to remember the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. His steps lead you right to him so he can take away the pain of your cross. Following after Jesus is a choice and it has its consequences. Your choice is connected to you consequence which is our next point.
Choices & Consequences v. 35
Consequences are the events that follow a choice you have made. There are good consequences and bad consequences. The results of the choice of whether or not you follow Jesus can be consequentially rewarding or remorseful depending on what you decide. Look at the text. In verse 35 there are two consequences which are contingent on the choice you make when it comes to following Jesus. It says that “whoever desires to save his life will lose or whoever loses his life for the My sake or the gospel’s save will save it”. The word of life in the original language of this text is psyche which means the breath of life or soul. This points to who you are on the inside. Jesus is tells us that if we try to save our souls (who we are), we will lose it. We don’t have the power to do this. But our problem is that we have a God complex we think we have to power to save our self from any and all things pertaining to our life. If we could save ourselves we would not have got it to that trouble. Or we would be able to give ourselves peace of mind. But we couldn’t. We can not hold on to ourselves and be open to God. The only way you can open up to God is to let go of who you are and what you desire. And according to the text, the consequence of losing yourself to Jesus and the gospel, you win. You will save your life. This is a paradox of what we usually expect. Normally in sports, the consequence of a loser is that they never make it in to the championship. However, in Christ, losers are always champions. Jesus gives us this example when He went to the cross. He had all power to save himself but He didn’t. He chose to lose his life. Ephesians tells us that He humbled himself in obedience to God and died for you and me. But in His lose, God exalted to be the Risen Savior. Jesus teaches us that we have to lose ourselves to win in Him. My brothers and my sisters, you are going to have to make a choice of who you are going to follow because your life is on the line. Do you want to win or lose? The Lord is saying you can get this or you can get with that. The choice is yours! So who are you going to follow? Remember, the choice you make says a lot about your character.
Character vv. 36-37
In sports, there is nothing worse to see than a bad loser. How a person loses tells a lot about there character. Your character is who you are and what you are made of. In verses vv. 36-37, Jesus questions the character of the ones who want to gain the world yet lose there soul. Jesus is calling those who go after the things of the world which are material and for personal gains rather than having satisfied soul in Him, sell out’s. A sell out is a person who will give up their cause or purpose so they can get ahead. My brothers and my sisters, there are too many sell out’s in church. We sell out when you put tradition over the word. We sell out when we use over position for control and ego boost rather than to serve. We sell out when we allow the devil to divide us as the body of Christ. (selfish and arrogant etc…) Are you a sellout? What would you exchange for your soul? Jesus does not want us to be sell out’s to the world but to be sold out for him. When you are sold out for you Jesus you want to always operate with Christian character despite of the challenge or issue. Your character tells if you really keep it real for Jesus. It shows if you really care or we are putting a front and we are about ourselves. Do you care about Jesus? This is our next point.
Care v. 38
In verse 38, Jesus wants us to see who really cares for him or if we are embarrassed of Him. He says “whoever is ashamed of me and my words in the adulterous and sinful generation, He will also be ashamed you when He comes in glory”. If you really cared about Jesus you would be ashamed him. We would not hide our Christianity and bring it out on Sunday at 11 am. You should have a real concern about Jesus in your life and for ministry. We all have to ask ourselves the question do we really care about the cause of Christ? Do we really care about what our witness looks like in the world? Or are we putting a front to a world that really does not care about you but does even care for itself? I truly believe that the way we have behaved at times makes us look like we have all turned our back on Jesus and are ashamed of Him. So do we really care? Do I really want Jesus? I always have to ask myself this question. But I don’t ever want Jesus to be ashamed of me and turn His back on me and act like He don’t care.
Celebration: I have to show Jesus I care by being committed to follow him where every He takes me.
MB and MS, I am going to have to lose something if I really want to follow after Jesus. I am going to have to give something up if I want to win. And that something is my self. I am going to have to let go of me and go after God. And I am ready to give me up because I have everything to gain in Christ. I am going give up my pride. I am going give up anger so I can get all of Him. I am going to consecrate myself and deal with consequence of my cross. I am going to follow him with my whole heart because I care and I am not of ashamed of the gospel it is power of God to salvation. I want to win so I have to lose! I have to deny myself, pick up my cross and follow him! That is my choice. I have decided to follow Jesus and there is no turning back. Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow, No turning back, no turning back. My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus; No turning back, No turning back. The world behind me, the cross before me, No turning back, no turning back…