Theme of the Week: Radical Discipleship
Bible Verses: “Calling the crowd along with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Mark 8:34 CSB
Scripture Reading: Mark 8:34-35, Luke 9:23-27, Galatians 2:20
If we had lived under Roman occupation in Palestine, and if we had seen a man carrying a cross, or at least the patibulum or crossbar, we would not have needed to ask him what on earth he was doing.
No, we would have recognized him immediately as a condemned criminal on his way to execution, for the Romans compelled those they sentenced to death to carry their cross to the site of the crucifixion.
This then was the dramatic imagery Jesus used for self-denial. For if we are following Jesus, there is only one place to which we can be going, the place of death. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in The Cost of Discipleship: “When Jesus calls a man, he bids him come and die.” What is more, according to Luke, we are to take up our cross every day (Luke 9:23), and if we do not do so, we cannot be his disciple (Luke 14:27).
So we could paraphrase verse 35: “Whoever is determined to hold on to themselves and live for themselves, will lose themselves. But whoever is willing to die, to lose themselves, to give themselves away in the service of Christ and the gospel, will (in the moment of complete abandon) find themselves, and discover their true identity.”
So Jesus does promise true self-discovery at the cost of self-denial, true life at the cost of death.
This teaching of Jesus was elaborated by the apostle Paul. In Galatians, he declared that he had been crucified with Christ (2:20), and that all who belong to Christ have crucified their fallen nature with all its passions and desires (5:24). This is “mortification,” that is, putting to death or repudiating our fallen, self-indulgent nature.
Paul’s clearest statement of it is Romans 8:13: “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”
The only way to enter into the fullness of life is to die, or better to put to death, even to crucify, that is utterly to renounce, our self-indulgent nature and all its desires.
From The Radical Disciple: Some Neglected Aspects of Our Calling. Copyright ©2012 by John Stott. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.
As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commission from qualifying purchases on Amazon.ca. Learn more.
Copyright © 2021 Promise Keepers Canada | Impactus. All rights reserved.