MARK 8:34



In this part of Mark chapter eight Jesus taught a very important principle of life: the meaning of life, the purpose of life, and how to live life the way that it was meant to be lived. The Bible says in Mark 8:34, “And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” First there is a decision to be made. Have you chosen to go after Jesus: to seek Him, to pursue Him, and to follow Him no matter where you go or what are your circumstances in life or what career you have entered? Everyone can make that decision and everyone is invited to make that decision. That’s why Jesus said, “Whosoever will come after me.”


Once you have made that decision to follow Jesus every day of your life, according to Jesus there are three important principles that you must always remember if you are going to faithfully “go after” him. You would not want to start following Him and then fail because of not knowing these principles. The three things are: 1. deny one’s self. 2. take up one’s cross. 3. follow Jesus.


The first thing is to deny one’s self. This idea goes contrary to the philosophy of the world. The world will tell you to chase after your own dreams: to aggressively pursue that which you wish. But Jesus says that if you do that, you cannot follow Him. You must learn to surrender your desires to Him, and then once you learn to do that consistently and truthfully, he will give you the desire to do what He wants you to do. That is why it says concerning a call to the ministry in First Timothy 3:1, “If any man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.” If you desire something, you had better make sure that desire comes from God or you will be out of the path of following Jesus.


When you do go God’s way instead of your own way. That is, when you deny yourself, you will find that it’s for the best. God knows what is best for you, and you do not. Trust Him. He wants you to experience the abundant Christian life. But even so, it will not be a walk through a rose garden. You must take up your cross. A cross was a thing of both suffering and death. When you decide to follow Jesus, it does not mean that you are going to be delivered from all suffering. Much to the contrary: Once you decide to follow Jesus, you will suffer things that you would not have suffered otherwise. Those sufferings are the cross that God has given you to bear for Him. Do not shun the cross or run away from the cross that God has given to you. If you do, you will not find the blessing that such a cross was meant to bring. Jesus suffered and died on a cross, and in so doing He brought salvation to the world. Who knows what great blessing will eventually come out of the cross that God has given you to bear? Paul understood the principle of the cross in the Christian life. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:10, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”  


Notice that Jesus said in Mark 8:34, “Whosoever will come after me…let him follow me.” It is kind of like Jesus said, “If you are going to follow me, make sure that you follow me.” Remember that one of the biggest problems of the Pharisees was that they were not following God because they were instead following the traditions of man. One of the problems that the immature Christians in Corinth had was that they had become followers of men. Even if the men are good, spiritual men; you still should not be followers of men. First Corinthians 3:3-5 says, “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?” Many people have made the mistake of following some man, praising some man, or honoring some man too highly. Don’t make that mistake. If you are going to follow Jesus, then make sure that you follow Jesus and not anyone else.


In Mark 8:35 Jesus expanded upon His first point: the necessity of denying one’s self, and not going one’s own way. Jesus said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.” Why is it that some people do not want to deny themselves? Some people think that they are going to lose something by denying themselves, at least the way that human beings look at things. But Jesus is saying that there is a spiritual principle at work here. Things do not work the way that human beings often think they work. Jesus made it very clear how things really work. He said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it.” God put you here for a purpose. If you miss that purpose, then you have missed everything. One sure way of missing God’s purpose for your life is to go your own selfish way.


If you are to be a follower of Jesus, instead of saving your life, you must learn what it means to lose it. But you cannot lose your life for any reason or for any circumstance. Jesus said, “Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's.” These are the two reasons for which you must give up your own life and your own desires: 1. for Jesus’ sake. 2. for the gospel’s sake. This means that the profession that you choose and the career that you pursue, you do so for Jesus’ sake. Your primary motivation is that you want to figure out a way to use your career to honor Him. You are not doing it so that you can become rich or powerful. You are doing what you are doing so that you can use the opportunities and resources that come your way to honor Him. What kind of person would make such a choice and have such a motivation in life: a person who truly appreciates what the Lord has done for them. He gave His life for you, and therefore, you give your life for Him.


You appreciate Him and you love Him, and therefore you make decisions for His sake and you make decisions for the gospel’s sake. In some way in the path that you take in life and in the career that you choose you have as a goal to figure out how to use it for the gospel and the spread of the gospel. You may not be an evangelist, but you can still be involved in personal evangelization. You may not be a preacher or a pastor of a church, but you can find a way to use your resources and gifts to help a preacher or a pastor. They cannot do it alone, at least not as effectively as they could with your help. Don’t be fooled. Many people lost their lives when they thought they were saving their own life. Remember the warning that Jesus gave, and He should know. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.”


In Mark 8:36-37 Jesus said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” In these verses Jesus makes a simple comparison between what a human might gain in this life and the value of a human soul. Would someone profit if they gained the whole world, but then lost their soul? If the whole world is not as valuable as your own soul, then how can the things that you seek after be worth your soul either? The number one issue for anyone should be their eternal destiny. People get right with God and people get saved when they start seriously thinking about this very question. What is your eternal destiny? What is the condition of your soul? What good will it do for you to gain anything if you still end up losing your soul? Jesus gave this warning because He wants everyone to be saved. He said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” If you have not yet taken care of the destiny of your soul, you can do so now by repenting of your sins and turning to Jesus and asking for forgiveness.


Why is it that some people do not get saved even when confronted with this serious question of their eternal destiny? Jesus implied one of the reasons in Mark 8:37. He said, “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” There is a price to pay in this world for giving your affections and your allegiance to Jesus. “They that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Sometimes it is okay to talk about God, but almost never is it okay to talk about Jesus. There are spiritual forces that oppose using His name with respect and reverence in public. That’s why our judicial system has misinterpreted the concept of the separation of church and state. The founding fathers meant this concept to be a restriction on the federal government as far as the founding of a state church such as the Church of England. In no way was the concept meant to restrict a teacher of a government official from speaking about their own religious beliefs. That’s why the founding fathers and others such as Abraham Lincoln so often quoted from the Bible. That’s why congress and the Supreme Court open with prayer. You cannot take any human and restrict them from expressing their own personal religious beliefs, not from a constitutional standpoint. Of course, some people are obnoxious and impolite in the expression of their beliefs. Well, they can be replaced with someone who is not so obnoxious. But the freedom of speech should be upheld at all cost. Anyway, why did this happen in America? It happened because of the spiritual forces that are always at work to resist and oppose the name of Jesus. People know this. We all know it. We know that it is unpopular to show an allegiance to Jesus in many situations. In the family, in the neighborhood, in the marketplace, in the schools, in the workplace, in the media: you know that it’s taboo and frowned upon and so does everyone else.


The question is, whose opinion do you value the most: those of people or that of God? If you are ashamed of the name of Jesus when you are in front of humans here on the earth, then Jesus said that He will be ashamed of you when He returns to the earth. Because of the way that Jesus said this, evidently this occurrence of His return and your relationship to Him at His return is very important. What is going to happen when Jesus returns? One of the big things is judgment. The return of Christ is coming. The judgment is coming. Nonbelievers will be judged and believers will be judged. Concerning the judgment to come Revelation 20:11-12, 14-15 says, “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” You might want to think twice before joining the world and being ashamed of the name of Jesus. He will return.    


Jesus said that when He returns, He will return “with the holy angels.” The word angel means messenger. The Lord has a purpose for every being that He has created, whether it be angelic or human. If you become a messenger of the Lord, that means that He has sent you with a message or in some way to participate in getting out the message. It’s all about the Lord, and it’s all about His message. That’s why He said in Mark 8:37, “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words.” His words also refer to the concepts, the ideas, the philosophies, and the manner of life that His Words and His teachings presented and emphasized. Are you ashamed of the life-style that Jesus wants you to follow in the face of the world and their life-style? If so, then you are also ashamed of the Lord and He will be ashamed of you at His coming.


Notice how Jesus described the world. He said, “This adulterous and sinful generation.” That is not a very flattering description of the people in this world. Of course, Jesus understood the sinfulness and failure of man without hating man. He went to the cross for you. He loves you. But you must turn from your wicked ways and turn to Him if you are going to know His forgiveness. Beware. Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.             




Copyright; 2002 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved