FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Jesus I My Cross Have Taken
Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee.
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition,
All I’ve sought or hoped or known.
Yet how rich is my condition!
God and heaven are still my own.
Let the world despise and leave me,
They have left my Savior, too.
Human hearts and looks deceive me;
Thou art not, like them, untrue.
O while Thou dost smile upon me,
God of wisdom, love, and might,
Foes may hate and friends disown me,
Show Thy face and all is bright.
Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap!
The Sunday Recap is a brief fly-by of what we did during Sunday worship. Did anything land with you from worship on Sunday? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?
Food For Thought!
The more we get what we now call ‘ourselves’ out of the way and let [Jesus] take us over, the more truly ourselves we become…our real selves are all waiting for us in him…. The more I resist Him and try to live on my own, the more I become dominated by my own heredity and upbringing and surrounding and natural desires…. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself up to his personality, that I finally begin to have a real personality of my own… [B]ut you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all. The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether. Your real, new self, will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for him....
Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Confession of Sin:
Exodus 20:1-2, 17
And God spoke all these words, saying,
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. . . .You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Prayer of Confession
Father in heaven, we confess we are discontent with our lives. We want what we don’t have and don’t want what we do have. As a result, we harbor resentment toward you and envy the good of our neighbor. We confess we love your good gifts more than we love you and so commit idolatry against you. Help us to repent of our inordinate desires that turn good things into ultimate things. Deliver us from every desire that prevents us from taking our deepest delight in you. Wash us, that we may be whiter than snow, for a broken and contrite heart you will not despise. Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the power of your Holy Spirit and help us to walk in newness of life through faith in Jesus Christ, Amen.
Words of Grace
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,…. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us!
Ephesians 1:3, 7, 8
Confession of Faith: The Apostles Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
he descended into hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
Sermon Text: Mark 8:34-9:1
34 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.35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
9:1 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”
1. The context for discipleship (8:31-32)
2. The commitment to discipleship (8:34-38)
3. The hope of discipleship (9:1)
Jesus' invitation to follow him is arguably the most challenging passage in all of scripture. It's a call that challenges and exposes any attempt to build our lives on anything other than him. In fact, it's a call to deny our very selves. It goes much deeper than just denying ourselves certain things in life we might really want but could otherwise do without. It is a call to lose, even to die for the sake of Jesus and his gospel.
Alarmingly, the irony of Jesus' call to follow him exposes the limits of safety (v. 35), comfort (v. 36-37), and reputation (v. 38) to secure what we are so afraid of losing.
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (v. 35-36)
In order to take in what Jesus is calling us to, we need first to remember who is extending the invitation. In the previous section Jesus taught his disciples that the Son of Man must suffer many things (8:31). Jesus is teaching us what kind of King he really is...he is a king unlike any the world has ever seen...he is aSUFFERING KING (Dan. 7:13-14; Isaiah 52-53). Therefore, if Jesus really is THE king, the only way to come to him is to lay down your weapons, your desires, your ambitions, even your own identity. You can't come to the king negotiating the terms. But if Jesus is the SUFFERING king then we can submit to him out of love and trust saying, 'Lord, whatever you ask I will do, whatever you send I will accept.'
The scriptures again and again show us what kind of King Jesus is for us...
Mark 10:45 “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Phil 2:7-8 [Jesus] “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
1 Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”
Not only do we need to know who we are following we need an entirely new approach for thinking about our lives and who we really are.
The only motive Jesus gives for responding to his call to follow him is for the sake of him and his gospel (v. 35). In other words, to borrow from Psalm 63:3, his love must become more precious to us than life itself. How does this work? Instead of striving to build our identity, we must instead receive our identity by grace alone from our suffering king!
“One’s search for self ultimately is fruitless because it seeks to find that which can only be given by another. In short, we may seek self-identity and hope to find ourselves, but the hoped for result never occurs through our own efforts. We seek ourselves but are finally found! One’s identity is the gift of another’s love.” (Eugene Lowry)
The gift of this love is what we need to discover that everything we receive from Jesus can never be lost no matter what we face this side of heaven!
Why do we need to hear this again and again? The sober words of verse 38 give the reason. We need the love of Jesus, his grace to take the place of our shame, especially of him and his words.
How does this happen? First it comes with a promise in 9:1 that the kingdom of God will come in power. And based on the context (8:31), at minimum what that points to is the resurrection of Jesus. In other words, what Jesus is saying to us is this: though the kingdom of God began in weakness it will not end that way. It will come in power. It will end in resurrection life. That is true for everyone who denies themselves and takes up their cross and follows him!
Therefore the hope of discipleship lies in the shame of Jesus' cross. The writer of Hebrews says in 12:2 that Jesus, "endured the cross, despising the shame." In this context "despise" can be translated 'to look down upon,' 'to be unconcerned about,' or 'to give no mind to.' Here is what this means for us...
"Jesus absorbed the shame of the world and despised it by never being controlled by it. Jesus looked down on shame. He attributed no worth or influence to it; he treated it as an outcast. Shame never distracted him from his mission.... With the Son of God, certain of his connection with the Father,shame for the first time in history had lost its power." (Ed Welch)
Did you hear that? The weakness and shame of the cross is power for those who are ashamed. The cross is the end of shame's reign. The cross is where we must go if we are to follow after Jesus and find life everlasting. Will you go there, knowing your suffering king has gone their ahead of you?
- What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from this passage?
- What questions does this passage raise for you?
- Was there anything that bothered you?
- Why is it so important to get Jesus' identity right if we are to follow him?
- What do you find most challenging about Jesus' call to follow him?
- Where do you see shame in your life that needs the remedy of the cross?
Suggested Resources & The Week Ahead
Since this week we looked at such a crucial passage about discipleship I want to suggest to you a family favorite. It is a kids version of Pilgrim's Progress. But adults beware you might find yourself picking it up and reading. The name of the book is Dangerous Journey...kind of sounds like Mark 8:34-38.
Songs for this week:
Holy, Holy, Holy
Jesus, I Come
And Can It Be
The Heavens Declare
God Of My Salvation Hear
Until next time,
Jesus I My Cross Have Taken
Man may trouble and distress me,
’Twill but drive me to Thy breast.
Life with trials hard may press me;
Heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, ’tis not in grief to harm me
While Thy love is left to me;
Oh, ’twere not in joy to charm me,
Were that joy unmixed with Thee.
Go, then, earthly fame and treasure,
Come disaster, scorn and pain
In Thy service, pain is pleasure,
With Thy favor, loss is gain
I have called Thee Abba Father,
I have stayed my heart on Thee
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather;
All must work for good to me.
Soul, then know thy full salvation
Rise o’er sin and fear and care
Joy to find in every station,
Something still to do or bear.
Think what Spirit dwells within thee,
Think what Father’s smiles are thine,
Think that Jesus died to win thee,
Child of heaven, canst thou repine.
Haste thee on from grace to glory,
Armed by faith, and winged by prayer.
Heaven’s eternal days before thee,
God’s own hand shall guide us there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission,
Soon shall pass thy pilgrim days,
Hope shall change to glad fruition,
Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.