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Call to Discipleship

Mark 8.34-9.1
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.
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.” And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”
Jesus tells the disciples and the crowd what it means to be a disciple—a follower of Jesus. Jesus says to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus. We often think of taking up our cross as something difficult in our lives. The first disciples would have a very different image of what it means to take up your cross—shameful execution that involves submission in the ultimate form—your very life.

Jesus continues with a paradox. If you want to save your life, you will lose it. If you lose your life for Jesus’ sake and the gospel’s sake, you will save it. In other words if you are self-centered and only concerned with the pleasures of your earthly life you will not have eternal life. If you deny yourself and serve Jesus and make the good news of Jesus known to others you will have eternal life.

The call to discipleship involves suffering and glory. No disciple is called to go where Jesus has not already been. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for us. He gave his life so we could live eternally through our faith in him. You may face shame, persecution, or even death because you follow Jesus; but a disciple will be with God in eternity and no one but Jesus can make that possible. Are you willing to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus?

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