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MARK: THE SERVANT WHO WAS OUR SAVIOR  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  53:00
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Mark 8:34 NASB95
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
(If anyone) it’s a broad invitation (would) based on your desirability not ability (come after) a definitive act (me) down a specific pathway.


Mark 8:34 NASB95
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
(HE) the one who accepts the invitation
(MUST) Must is a non-negotiable action. It's not optional but an obligation. It's not open for debate, only doing.
Jesus does not use the usual word for deny but a stronger verb, meaning to have absolutely no association with or disown completely without reservations or hesitation!  It is entrance into a new state or condition. To deny oneself means to surrender immediate material gratification in order to discover and secure one’s true self and God’s interests. It is a willingness to let go of selfish desires and earthly security. This attitude turns self-centeredness to God-centeredness.
Denying self is not the same as self-denial. We practice self-denial when, for a good purpose, we occasionally give up things or activities. But we deny self when we surrender ourselves to Christ and determine to obey His will. It is a once-for-all dedication followed by daily “dying to self” as we take up the cross and follow Him. From the human point of view, we are losing ourselves, but from the divine perspective, we are finding ourselves. When we live for Christ, we become more like Him, and this brings out our own unique individuality.
This word deny is used only twice in the Gospels, in today’s text and in Jesus prophecy concerning Peter. We see Peter’s denial and what Jesus means when he talks about denial in
Luke 22:54–60 ESV
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.
When Jesus says that we must deny ourselves this is what it looks like.
It is much easier to die at the hands of an executioner than to execute our wills, importance, and agendas. So, to deny self is to: say no to yourself; relinquish all claims to your life, and renounce your right to run your life.
Followers of Christ do not belong to themselves
1 Corinthians 6:19–20 ESV
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
You have been bought with a price; Jesus gave his life for your life. He has an absolute claim on your life, or he has no claim on your life. Jesus picked up His cross and died for our sins. Now we must pick up our cross and die to our sins. This mandate is not optional; it must be obeyed.
Jim Elliot the martyred missionary at age 28 wrote in his journal at 22; he is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
This is Jesus second stipulation and it means to pick up at once. It speaks of death to self, for the sake of Jesus. He is not saying "wear your cross," but "bear your cross." Many wear crosses today who have never genuinely taken up their cross. This reference to a cross needed no explanation, for the Jews had seen thousands of their countrymen crucified by the Romans. Allegiance even to death is demanded of Christ's followers.
Everyone who accepts this great salvation must prove the reality of their faith by carrying the cross of Christ.
Like his Lord, each disciple must bear his own cross. To understand what this cross Jesus refers to is, we need to talk about what it isn't. It isn't your lost husband or wife. It isn't your wayward children. It isn't your mother-in-law. Your cross isn't your difficulties or the bad situations you face in life.
The cross is not just a place of suffering, it is a place of death! To take up one's cross means to willingly pick up and carry the shame (People mocked men who carried the cross. Unlike today when a person will carry one across America and draw cheers. A man under a cross in Jesus' day drew jeers!), the rejection, the suffering and the death that Jesus Himself willingly carried for us. To take up your cross means that you are willing to identify yourself with Jesus Christ, His death and His word, regardless of what it costs you personally, publically or financially!
Matthew 10:38 ESV
And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
An Italian legend tells about a man who had a servant who was rather stupid. One day the master became exasperated and told the servant, “You’re the stupidest fellow I’ve ever known. I want you to take this staff and carry it with you. If you ever meet a man who is more stupid than you are, give him the staff.”
The servant took the staff. He met some pretty dumb men, but he wasn’t sure if they were dumber than he was, so he never gave away the staff. Then one day he was called back to the castle. He was ushered into the master’s bedroom, where the master was on his deathbed. He told the servant, “I’m going on a long journey.” The servant asked, “When will you be back?” The master replied that he would not return.
The servant asked, “Well, sir, have you got everything prepared for your journey?” The master said, “No, I’ve not really made much preparation for it.” The servant asked, “Could you have made preparation? Could you have sent something on?” The master said, “Yes, I guess I had a lifetime to do that, but I was just busy about other things.” The servant went on, “Then you won’t be back to the castle, to the lands, to the animals?” The master said he wouldn’t be back.
The legend says that the servant took the staff which he had carried for all those years and said to the master, “Here, you take the staff. I finally met a man who was more stupid than myself.”
We’re all going to take that journey. Jesus tells us how to prepare. Trust Him as Savior and follow Him as Lord, denying self even when it’s hard. One day you will see Him smile and say, “Well done!” Then it will be worth it all!
We may not walk to the martyr’s stake, but we must walk in the Master’s steps.
Our final stipulation is follow me. The word “follow” means “to take the same road as another does.” It is used to describe the relationship between and instrumentalist and their instrument case. It is, “Let him follow with Me.” The idea is not that of following behind another, but that of accompanying the other person, taking the same road that he takes and fellowshipping with him along that road. Jesus is not asking us to blaze our own trail. He is saying; “here’s the way walk in it”.
Jesus said, "Follow Me." Jesus did not say, "Follow a set of rules" or "Follow a series of rituals." He said, "Follow Me." Discipleship is an intensely personal pursuit. Make no mistake about it. Being a disciple of Jesus is more than adding a new set of activities to your already busy life. Being a disciple of Jesus is first and foremost a response to His call to pursue Him passionately. The call "Follow Me" is the essence, heartbeat, challenge, and adventure of discipleship. It is a formal challenge to live with, learn from, and study under King Jesus. It is a call to be close to Him, obey His teachings, take the same path He takes, and walk the same road He walked. It involves daily growth and development at the expense of personal comfort. It demands absolute abandonment of all else in order to pursue Jesus fully.
Somebody asked Dr. Tozer, "What does it mean to take up your cross? What does it mean to be crucified with Christ?" He said, "Three things. Number one: a man who is crucified is facing only one way. Number two: a man who is crucified is not going back. He has said goodbye. He is not going back. And number three: he has no further plans of his own." Take up your cross, facing one way, not going back, no further plans of his own.
Can you say it, "I'm crucified with Christ?" We say it glibly. Do you mean it? That's what it means to be a disciple. Still want to be a disciple? Take up your cross. That's what the Lord Jesus Christ said. My precious friend, when you gave your heart to Jesus Christ and said, "I will take up my cross," that's the last legitimate, independent decision you ever make.
If you are going to follow Jesus you must always being disowning your selfish soul and crucifying your sinful self. We cannot follow Jesus the way we are because we are to swollen to fit into the places he leads us.


Mark 8:35–38 ESV
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 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.”
Jesus uses the Greek word “psyche” four times in the verses we just read. It is translated life (v.35) and soul (vv.36-37). We get our English word psychology from “psyche”. This word speaks of our identity that which makes you distinct and valuable. Jesus is not asking us to lose the sense of ourselves but to find ourselves. He telling us not to build our identity on gaining things in this world (vv. 36-37). Every culture points to certain things and says if you gain, acquire, or achieve these things then you’ll know you’re somebody.
Every culture says identity is gain-based, performance-based, or achievement-based. No matter how much of these things you gain, it’s never enough to really make you sure of who you are. If you’re building your identity off, “Somebody loves me,” if you’re building your identity off, “I have a good career,” if you’re building your identity off whatever, if anything goes wrong with those things, you will fall apart.
Some of you may be saying; “I hear you saying don’t build your identity on parental approval, career, romance, relationships, etc. You’re saying I need to build my life on God.” No, that’s to abstract. You need something concrete. No life has been completely changed at the root by an act of the will. Notice Jesus says we must do it “for my sake and the the gospel’s”. Jesus roots motivation in that which is concrete. Jesus is saying don’t come to me to get from me but to get me. If you see Jesus losing everything for you then you will gain strength and assurance to lose everything to gain Him. I believe Jesus most fully expresses His identity and our true identity in the Garden when he said; “not my will but yours be done”. These words express true identity, true life. I want you more than anything else.
No matter how much of these things you gain, it’s never enough to really make you sure of who you are. If you’re building your identity off, “Somebody loves me,” if you’re building your identity off, “I have a good career,” if you’re building your identity off whatever, if anything goes wrong with those things, you will fall apart. You feel like you don’t have a self and you don’t, because your self is completely based on it.
How many people make the following statement; ‘I’ve been a failure and I’ve been immoral, so I’m going to go to church and read my Bible and become a moral, decent, person, and then I’ll know I’m a cool person, because I am spiritual.’ ” The majority. Jesus does want us to simply shift from one gain-based, one performance-based identity to another. He wants us to find a whole new way. He wants us to lose the old self, lose the old identity, in favor of basing our identity on Him and the gospel.”
Jesus created us and he knows our motivation. He created us to lose ourselves. However, the fall has bent us towards saving our life (holding onto our current broken identity) Jesus bids us to find true life (our true identity) in losing our old self. He calls us to lose in order to gain because He knows we will pursue gain by saving which leads to losing.
C.S. Lewis commenting on today’s text writes these insightful words in Mere Christianity; “The more we get what we now call ‘ourselves’ out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become.… our real selves are all waiting for us in Him.”
Philippians 3:3–10 ESV
For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
Christianity has a point of surrender “come and follow me” followed by a practice of surrender “deny yourself and take up your cross”. We are not carrying our cross as an act of salvation but as a testimony of our inability to save ourselves. Jesus carried His cross for our salvation. We carry our cross because we are saved. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. We carry our cross to die to ourself.
Jesus created us to lose ourselves. What are you losing yourself to this morning?
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