“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.’” -Mark 8:34-35
In their book, Compassion without Compromise, Adam Barr and Ron Citlau, commenting on these verses say the following about discipleship.
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, there were many people in the crowd…But membership in the crowd didn’t make them disciples. Jesus clearly taught them and us what it means to move from being in the crowd to becoming a disciple.
At the heart of discipleship is a self-denying submission to Jesus as Lord. Jesus describes a disciple as someone who has ‘taken up his cross.’ In the Roman world, only condemned criminals carried crosses…they were on one path—to the place of execution. (pgs. 64-65, emphasis original)
The road to true life will sometimes feel like death. Disciples must be willing to say no to desires that seem undeniable and irresistible. We must say no to deep longings that seem to define who we are. (pg. 65, emphasis original)
Every person who steps out of the crowd to follow Jesus must tread this cruciform path, denying self in obedience to the Savior. (pg. 65)
Jesus is King! Where does He make His Will known to us?
Scripture is really the revelation of our King’s will. It is the perfect, inspired decree of the man from Nazareth who ate with sinners, healed centurions’ servants, and told us that anyone was welcome to come follow him. There is only one condition: He gets to be King. We cannot call Jesus Lord if we ignore his Word. (pgs. 65-66, emphasis original)
Jesus is the King who came and died for His enemies. Through His life, death, resurrection, and soon return, He has defeated sin and death and leads His people into an everlasting life of true flourishing. This is a King we can trust and follow denying ourselves as we walk the cruciform path. Our King goes before us and we know the outcome…the cross leads to life.