Mark 8:34-38: The price tag.
“34-37 Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for? 38 “If any of you are embarrassed over me and the way I’m leading you when you get around your fickle and unfocused friends, know that you’ll be an even greater embarrassment to the Son of Man when he arrives in all the splendor of God, his Father, with an army of the holy angels.” The Message
There is a cost to following Jesus. Finger the price tag. Jesus did not give us any ‘small print’ in His ‘terms and conditions’.
‘All Christians are called to be disciples. Let us never suppose that there are two kinds of Christians; one kind that follows Jesus and suffers with Him, and a second kind that can lead an easy life. There is only one kind of true Christian; that is, a disciple.’ Tom Hale: ‘The applied New Testament Commentary’,p.245. There is a call to:
- Denial (34a): self-denial. It must no longer be ‘me first’ but ‘Jesus first.’ At least a part of this self-denial is letting go of the kind of Messiah we imagine (32,33), for the One we actually have. Being a genuine Christian is difficult. This is why some people who appear to come to Christ, turn away after a while;
- Death (34b): ‘’and take up his cross…’’ This is the first time Mark mentions the ‘’cross.’’ Not only were criminals crucified; they also had to carry their own cross to the place of execution. For Jesus’ listeners this could only mean one thing. They had to be prepared to suffer and die for Him. Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who lost his life because of his opposition to Hitler and the Nazis, said, ‘When Jesus bids a man come and follow Him, He bids him come and die.’
- Direction (34b): ‘’and follow me.’’ The call is to follow Jesus all through life, and on into eternity;
- Decision (35-37): Choose Jesus over the world – over worldly advantages and blessings. However, Tom Hale helpfully (and correctly, in my view) balances this up by saying: ‘Usually…once we have given up worldly advantage for Christ, Christ blesses us in worldly things (see Matthew 6:33; Mark 10:29-31…) The abundant life that Jesus promised to his followers (John 10:10) begins here in this world.’ But, he goes on: ‘…let us not fool ourselves: We cannot seek after Christ and worldly blessings at the same time; we must choose (see Matthew 6:24…).’’ ‘The applied New Testament Commentary’,p.245;
- Declaration (35-37): We are to declare our allegiance to Jesus publicly. Let us not be ashamed of Jesus. He does not encourage secret discipleship.