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Take Up Your Cross

Sermon Series:

It Had To Be Said

Jon Delger
Jon Delger

Executive Pastor

Peace Church

Main Passage:
Mark 8:31-38


All right, church, if you grab your Bible, would you open with me to Mark chapter 8. Mark chapter 8, we're going to be looking at verses 31 through 38 this morning. If you don't have a Bible, feel free to look for one around you. There's one on a table or on a shelf in any of the worship venues. You can grab one of those and turn to page 1073. We're continuing our series called It Had to be Said.

Quotes from Christ that changed the world. And this morning, we're going to look at, I think, what is probably one of the most famous and one of the most challenging quotes of Jesus in all of the Bible. I know it's Fourth of July week, it's sunshine. You wouldn't think that this is the time to hear a hard, challenging word from Jesus. But you know what? As I thought about that this week, I just thought, you know what? That's exactly when we need to hear it is when things are going well, when the sun is shining, the Lord gets us ready for when things are not always that way. So would you hear with me Mark chapter 8, we're going to start reading in verse 31. I'll read it, then we'll pray, then we'll get to work. Here we go. Mark 8, starting in verse 31.

Mark 8:31-38

31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

34 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. 35 For whoever would save his life[a] 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.”

This is God's word, amen. Let's pray. Father in heaven, we thank you for your word, this absolute truth before us, this word from you to your people. God, I pray that you would open up our hearts so we would hear it. God, I pray that you would fill me with your Holy Spirit, a broken instrument to bring your perfect word to your people.

God, I pray that you'd be glorified and that our hearts would be changed and transformed. Pray this all in Jesus' powerful name, amen. It's amazing how something can seem upside down until you look at it from the right perspective, isn't it? I just had that experience just yesterday.

One of my boys was on the couch And he was standing on his head, and he said daddy you're upside down, and I said no son you're upside down Just for fun. I thought maybe we could all experience that together take a look and tell your neighbor What you think you see on the screen here? Is it a squirrel or is it a horse? Try again tell your neighbor what you think you see. Is it a horse?

Or is it a man? One more, one more. What do you think you see? I love the crowd participation up here. It's awesome. Is it a lion or is it a mouse? That last one always gets me.

In the passage that we're going to look at this morning, our passage starts with Jesus explaining what it means to be the Messiah. Namely, that it means to be killed. At the end of our passage, Jesus goes on to explain what it means to be one of his disciples, namely that it also means to be rejected and to suffer. And in the middle of the passage, we have a scene that connects the two together. We've got Peter, you gotta love Peter. Peter takes the thing that everybody's thinking and he says it out loud.

Peter grabs Jesus and he pulls him aside and he says, Jesus, there's no way. You can't die. And Jesus says those same words, get behind me, Satan. And He goes on to explain, and this is I think the key phrase for understanding the whole passage. He says to Peter, for you have your minds set on the things of man instead of on the things of God. You see, what Jesus lays out is two ways. My way and Jesus's way. And he shows us that from the perspective of man, Jesus's way looks upside down. From Peter's perspective, from the disciples perspective, from you and I perspective, the way of the cross looks upside down. But the problem is not with Jesus. The problem is actually that we have the mindset, the perspective of human beings, instead of the mindset and the perspective of God. I think Proverbs 14, 12 sums it up really well.

It says, there's a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Like Peter, all of us from time to time in our lives, we try to pull Jesus aside. We say, hey, Jesus, come over here. Let me tell you, your way is a little upside down.

See, I've actually got another way and my way is the right way. I think I got this whole thing figured out. Jesus, let me just explain to you my way and how things should go. Our way makes sense. It looks right to us. Jesus's way looks wrong from our perspective. But Jesus says that's because we have our minds set in the things of man instead of the things of God. That actually our way leads to death, whereas Jesus' way leads to life. So in our passage this morning, the main idea that we're going to see is this, that Jesus' disciples follow the way of the cross and not the way of the world.

Jesus' disciples follow the way of the cross and not the way of the world.

And we're going to walk through the passage, we're going to see three comparisons in the main quote, the primary quote comes in verses 34 and following, and so we're going to see as we walk through that three different comparisons that Jesus makes as he tries to make his points about the upside-down way of the cross that we are called to.

2. Save it vs. lose it (vv. 34-35)

So let's do that. Let's jump in. Let's take a look at the first one here. Save it or lose it. Take a look with me at verses 34 and 35. And calling the crowd to him with his disciples he said to them, if anyone would come after me let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake and for the gospels will save it. So you have to imagine sort of how the Jews at the time would have seen the Messiah. They would have thought of a Messiah who was going to come and who was going to have only victory, right? A guy who was going to come and be a conquering hero, right?

Remember the Jews are under the thumb of Rome. You think of Palm Sunday, you think of them waving palm branches and then celebrating and welcoming Jesus as King, thinking that he was going to overthrow Rome and have this massive victory. You think of even after Jesus' death on the cross and his resurrection, you think of what the disciples say in Acts chapter 1. The disciples say to Jesus, right, Jesus is just about to go to heaven, and they still say to him, they still say to him, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel? Right, they still in their minds even then thought of Jesus as this military political Messiah who only conquers, who only has victories.

They can't even imagine the idea of him having defeat. Now you and I are used to hearing about the cross, right? We've heard the story of the cross for so long. It's actually shaped the world ever since it happened. But if you try to get that out of your minds and just think about at the time of Jesus how crazy it would sound that the Son of God would come down to the earth, that

he'd be born in a manger, that he'd live as a carpenter's son, that he would suffer, that he'd be hated, that he would die, he'd be tortured, he'd bleed out on a cross. That's crazy. That seems upside down and backwards, I think, from a human perspective. We would think that he should march in and conquer Only victory and in fact that's exactly the temptation actually that Jesus faces a few times throughout his life.

I think of when Jesus is out in the wilderness for 40 days at the beginning of his ministry Satan comes to him. Here's Matthew chapter 4 Satan offers this temptation to Jesus says again The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. He said to him, all these I will give you if you will fall down and worship me. Jesus said to him, be gone Satan for it's written you shall worship the Lord your God alone and him only will you serve. Satan offers Jesus you don't have to go to the cross, you don't have to suffer, you don't have to

be rejected, if you just bow down to me you can have the throne. You can have the whole world. You can have the crown without the cross. And Jesus knows that this is a temptation. He rejects it. But you see when Peter comes, Jesus sees the exact same scheme in front of him, right? Peter pulls him aside and he says, Jesus, come here. You don't have to go to the cross. We're not going to let you die. I'll lead a revolt before I let you die on a cross.

And Jesus sees this is not the word of my father. This is not the word of a friend. This is the voice of Satan. Get behind me, Satan. Jesus himself knows that he did not come to go straight to victory, he came in fact to suffer even though it sounds crazy to us. Another passage that points out just how crazy I think this sounds to us, 1st Corinthians chapter 1, says for Jews the man signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly, foolishness to Gentiles. But to both, the power of God and the wisdom of God. The way of the cross seems upside down and backwards, but it's exactly why Jesus came. I think of Mark 10, 45, where Jesus says, I came not to be served, but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many.

I think of Hebrews 9, 22, that says, there is no remission of sins without the shedding of blood. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus didn't simply come to go straight to victory. Jesus came first to suffer and to pay for our sins. He came to bleed and to cleanse you and I. He came to go to the cross and to take the wrath of his father for our sin. His suffering, his wounds are what lead to our healing, our forgiveness, our salvation.

That's the good news of the gospel. That's why Jesus came. After Jesus teaches them why he came and what it means to be the Messiah, the seemingly upside down way of the cross, he goes on to explain to his disciples the seemingly upside-down way of being a follower of Jesus. Just as Jesus couldn't have the crown without the cross in the same ways Christians, we can't have the crown without the cross. Makes me think of a passage, Revelation 2, verse 10, Jesus is speaking to the church in one of his letters. He says, do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison that you might be tested and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life." Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life. Jesus tells his disciples something that is just as crazy as the Son of God dying on a cross. That to follow the Son of God means that you will suffer. That if you want to live, you got to die. That if you want to have eternal joy, you've got to suffer. The cross is not an ornament, it's not a piece of jewelry, it's a symbol of torture and death. That's the symbol that you and I carry around on us, the cross. John 15, Jesus says, "'A servant is not above his master. "'If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.'" Now, some people in the room this morning

might be surprised to hear this.

Hopefully, if you've been coming to Peace Church for a while, hopefully you're not surprised, but I think some might be surprised to hear this because there are other preachers in the world who preach a gospel that is not this gospel. They want to explain that

actually to follow Jesus means that you will always have everything that you want. That if you follow Jesus you'll always be healthy, you'll always be happy, you'll always have all the financial resources you need. But unfortunately that's not what the Bible says. That's not what this passage says. And so just in case you're not fully convinced of that yet, I want to, I want to actually give you a bunch of passages to help you grasp that. I just want that to sink in. I want you to walk out of here fully convinced that Jesus Christ didn't come to give us a life on this earth of luxury, but he actually came to call us to a life of suffering.

Here's Romans chapter eight, this is verse 16 and 17. It says, the spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. If children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ that all sounds wonderful doesn't it maybe you've heard that part of the passage before here's the here's how that verse finishes provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him Jesus says there's no victory without suffering. No cross, no crown. You can't have the baby without going through the labor. Just a few weeks ago I got to be in Indianapolis at that conference that we talked about a minute ago. And as we were going around at that conference at the same time in Indianapolis, were also the Olympic swim trials going on. And so as we go to the restaurants and as we go it was actually right across the street And so we come across some of the swimmers and I could identify the swimmers every time they were tall. They had long arms long legs and they had massive shoulders Walk into a restaurant, but there's a swimmer. There's a swimmer. There's a swimmer. You said these massive shoulders man. I mean, they're just huge I'll tell you what those men and women did not get off the couch one day and say I'm going to go swim in the Olympic trials They would tell you no pain no gain these people suffered They worked out they worked hard in order to be at the Olympic trials.

Jesus calls us To pain in order to get to glory a couple more passages Ephesians chapter 1 13 and 14 it says in him you also when you heard the word of truth the gospel of your salvation and believed in him were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit Who is the guarantee of our inheritance? Until we acquire possession of it You hear what he's saying? What he's saying is that you have an inheritance

You have heaven you have you have the Lord you have an eternal life and joy awaiting you But it's not yet It's coming But it's not here yet. In this life we do get tastes of that inheritance. We do get tastes of that eternal joy, but it's mostly spiritual, right? We get forgiveness of sins, we get a relationship with the Lord, we get some earthly pleasures, but ultimately it's ahead of us.

Ultimately it's out there in front of us still. Romans 8 24 and 25, in this hope we were saved. Hope that is seen is not hope, for who hopes for what he sees. But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. The author is saying that the Christian has hope, but hope means that we don't have it yet. It's not in our hands, it's in the future. Our inheritance is yet to come. By God's mercy, yes, we get some pleasure now, but most of our joy is out in the future. What Jesus promised is suffering in this life and eternal joy in the life to come. So let me ask you a question, brothers and sisters. the Christian life without suffering? Are you trying to live a life of comfort? A life of luxury? Are you trying to follow Jesus but not give up anything? Avoid all the pain? If so, you're not living the way that your Savior lived?

If so, you're not living the way that he called his disciples to live? Are you surprised when you face pain? Do you get angry with God when you suffer, whether it's from a broken body or broken people or a broken situation? Do you recoil from the opportunity to make a sacrifice for the

mission of Jesus to take the gospel to the world? Dad's in the house. When it comes time in the evening, are you resentful of the opportunity to give up what you're doing and to go in and read a Bible story and pray with your kids before they go to sleep. Moms on Sunday mornings, when you have to get those kids out of bed early to come to Peace Church at 8 a.m. or 9.30 a.m. or 11 a.m., I know it's extremely hard, but do you resent that suffering in order to bring your family to church? Teens, when you go to school and you have that opportunity to look different from your friends, when you know it's going to cause you pain and shame, do you take that opportunity or do you just go the way of the world that doesn't follow Jesus? Jesus says, take up your cross and follow me.

2. The world vs. your soul (vv. 36-37)

Number two, the second comparison we have, the world or your soul take a look at verses 36 and 37 with me 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 So I think the second step here Jesus plays out a scenario he says alright if you chase the world And if you succeed if you gain the world is it worth it What advantage is it if you get the entire world, but you lose your soul? Like in verse 37 he plays out what happens if he gets to the end of your life You've you've lived your whole life. You've you've done all the things. You've gone the path of the world and you've gained the whole world at the end of your life. Can you trade all the money, all the goods, all the stuff, all the experiences, all the pleasures of the world for your soul? No. Wrong currency. I love our country. I love getting to celebrate July 4. We had an awesome week this past week. I'm so thankful for the men and women who sacrifice and serve to protect us. I'm thankful for the freedoms we have. I'm thankful for the way that we try to offer the American dream. We try to offer that if you work hard you can earn a better life at least temporarily in this world.

I love all those things and yet also brothers and sisters You got to know you got to remember the American dream is not what a disciple of Jesus dreams about, hopes for. The disciples dream is not for earthly treasure, it's for heavenly treasure. Unfortunately in our country, and our country is pretty much exclusively where they come from, there are people who preach another gospel. It's often called the prosperity gospel. There are preachers, pastors, who have large followings, who have books, who have podcasts, who you can listen to online, that will tell you that if you just follow Jesus, you will always be healthy, you'll be healed from whatever's going on, you'll have you'll always have the money that you need. If you just ask for specifically what you need, God will always make you happy, make you healthy, make you prosperous. That stuff is out there and it's very popular,

but you gotta know, I don't like to criticize other preachers, we don't make a habit of doing that at Peace Church, but you gotta understand that if you're listening to that during the week, that's the opposite of what you're gonna hear on Sunday.

That's the opposite of what you're hearing this morning, that's the opposite of what Jesus says right here. Jesus doesn't say, I promise that if you follow me, everything will be great. He says, I promise if you follow me, you will suffer. The gospel isn't about gaining the world. The gospel is about gaining Christ.Think of passages like Philippians 3 verse 8 the Apostle Paul Who suffered much says 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. I count them as rubbish in order that I might gain Christ the world's goods I count them as Christ The world's goods I count them as garbage in order that I would have Christ That's the disciples dream One of my favorite Preachers is a guy named John Piper and one of his most famous illustrations that is getting older now And so maybe we haven't heard it often enough. I want to share it with you.

He gives an illustration of it's called the seashells illustration. He tells a story from the 1998 readers digest of a couple The title of the piece was start now retire early He tells the story of an older couple named bob and penny in their 50s that they saved up their money and they retired early And they got to move to florida and now they spend all their time Trolling out in the out in the sea and their 30-foot trawler and they collect shells on the beach and he poses the question when they stand before Jesus what will they have to show him look Lord look at my shells look at my boat that is a tragedy that is a life wasted I'm not saying there's anything wrong with having a good job I'm not saying there's anything wrong with saving for retirement. But if your hope, if your dream, retire early, collect shells, you might be wasting your life. In the words of Jim Elliot, missionary who died at the end of a spear trying to share the gospel, he said, he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. Friends, are you chasing the world? Or are you chasing a life that will mean something for eternity? The upside down way of the cross looks crazy now. It looks like a waste now, but it's the only thing that will matter for eternity.

3. Shame before God vs. Shame before people (v. 38)

Number three third comparison that Jesus gives us shame before God or Shame before people take a look with me at verse 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation of him Will a son of man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his father with the holy angels." So Jesus takes the same question he poses it in a little bit different way. Whose disapproval do you fear the most? Will it be the world's or will it be God's? I think Jesus makes it pretty clear which one we should choose. He holds out that comparison. He says this adulterous and sinful generation versus he says Jesus, the son of God coming in the glory of his father with his holy angels. Which one of those two things will you fear the most? Which of those two groups will you seek to please throughout the course of your life? The original 12 disciples had to face that choice many times.

Peter, the night Jesus is betrayed, he faces three opportunities to either claim that he follows Jesus or deny Jesus. Unfortunately, Peter denies Jesus three times because he's afraid of what might happen to him. The rest of the disciples on that same night, Jesus gets arrested, what do they do?

They all run, they scatter, they disappear. Fortunately, we've got a story in Acts chapter four where things get a little bit better. Peter and John, they're preaching the gospel, they get arrested, they get imprisoned, they get released and they get told, if you preach Jesus' name again, we're gonna do the same thing to you again. And they say, we don't care, we're gonna go and we're gonna preach. The Lord had been working in their hearts and they weren't afraid anymore, but they faced that question, will I fear man or will I fear God? Who do I want to please the most? The answer might seem obvious sitting here right now, but what will you do this week? Who will appear bigger in your mind, God or people?

The fear of man has a lot of different names. Peer pressure is one of them. The pressure from your peers to do a certain thing, it starts really early. Recently, my wife and I got to watch one of our daughters and her soccer team sitting around talking and you know those Stanley mugs that are really popular that everybody has I didn't know apparently nine-year-old girls already no brand names because one young lady looked at another young lady and started making fun of her because she had a knockoff Stanley mug it wasn't Stanley it was I don't know something else peer pressure starts early.

It's another name for the fear of man who do you want to please whose disapproval do you fear are. Are you constantly over committed? Do you have a hard time saying no? People might really love you, but that's something we also call being a people pleaser It means that you're not able to balance a healthy life a healthy schedule because you always want to make other people happy Now that might make a lot of people happy, but it also presents a danger one faced with the choice Will you please the Lord will you please God? Do you ever tell lies? Even little minor exaggerations? Why do we do that? Because we don't want to get in trouble for something or because we want to look really good. We want to impress people. All of these things are signs of the fear of man, as the Bible calls it. And Jesus knows us. Jesus knows that all of us have a tendency to fear people, to want to please people. And so, at the end of this call to discipleship, he says, he calls that out.

He says, you're going to face that. You need to make a decision now. Will you fear man or will you fear God? Disciples of Jesus would rather be shamed before man than before their Father in heaven. You see, when the Holy Spirit is at work in your life, when you have spiritual eyes to open, you realize that my way is actually the one that's upside down.

That Jesus' way is actually the way that is right. That my way leads to death, that Jesus' way leads to life. That the upside down way of the cross looks crazy in this temporary, so short life, but for all of eternity, the way of the cross is what will make sense. For all of eternity, we're gonna sit there and say, well, yeah, that's the way all of us should have lived. It's the way of the cross. I don't want to look back and regret the moments that I went the other way. Brothers and sisters, my prayer for you this morning is that the Holy Spirit would open the eyes of your heart, that you would desire the way of the cross. the eyes of your heart, that you would desire the way of the cross. Would you please stand with me and let's pray to close.

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