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Sermons

There Is No Discipleship Without Death

February 28, 2021 Speaker: The Rev. Mike McDonald Series: Follow Him - A Lenten Invitation

Topic: Follow Him - A Lenten Invitation Passage: Mark 8:31–8:38

Right after Peter declares that Jesus is the Christ, he learns that the Christ has come to die.  This doesn’t fit Peter’s understanding so he takes Jesus aside and rebukes him.  Jesus quickly realizes that this is Satan again tempting Jesus to abandon his mission. After rebuking Satan (not so much Peter), Jesus teaches the crowd that followers must deny themselves and take up their cross.

There is no discipleship without death.

Peter was susceptible to this temptation because he had in mind things of mankind as opposed to things of God.  These could include worldliness, idolizing power, selfishness and desire for public vindication.  So, Jesus teaches that real discipleship requires followers to put these things to death.

The cross is not a burden, but an instrument of execution.  If anyone wants to save his life, he must first lose it.  This means changing all your values to align with God’s values, which are at odds with most of the world’s values.  However, as the parable of the hidden treasure shows (Matt. 13:44), it is a great joy to exchange everything else for the gift of discipleship.  

Jesus concludes this bit of teaching by mentioning that he will come again in the glory of the Father with his angels.  This is a warning to be prepared.  The idea that salvation only happens when you “die and go to heaven” severely distorts the Bible’s view of discipleship.  The “death of discipleship” leads us into life with Jesus now that will go on forever.  He fully plans to make disciples perfect like himself.

Taking It Home: Lent is about intentionally following Jesus.  Ask him what character trait he wants to work on this year.  Then prayerfully devise a spiritual discipline to facilitate growth in this area.

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