The Way of the cross Involves Suffering for Christians
INTRODUCTION: Jesus begins to explain to the disciples that He must be arrested, suffer, and die a miserable death to save the world of sin. Peter doesn’t buy it. This does not fit into his plan or agenda. For Peter, that was not the kind of Messiah he was looking for. As Peter begins to rebuke Jesus, the Savior puts Peter in his place. This is the type of suffering Jesus must endure if we are to find any satisfaction from the Father.
Jesus will speak in terms of wasting one’s life and investing one’s life. What is the difference between wasting and investing? How are we to act accordingly? This morning we will see that the way of the cross involves suffering for the Christian. How? What Jesus teaches we should put into practice –
The way of the cross involves suffering.
I. Deny self – V.34 “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself” Mark 8:34
A. How can people in this affluent and comfortable age be convinced of this reality? We are constantly told by the wisdom of this world to do our own thing, to do what makes us feel good – regardless of the consequences. The perception of this world is that suffering is only for the weak. It is therefore to be avoided at all cost. We’ve been advised to steer clear of anything painful or uncomfortable.
B. The way to a crown is through a cross. Jesus endured the cross with a sense of joy for He knew of its victorious end. Joy is not merely frivolity and amusement. There is a deeper meaning to your joy which comes through the cross. As you endure the crosses placed in your life you share in the hope of God’s glory. Christian suffering – your suffering is prescribed by the Great Physician. We suffer with the expectation that we will reign with God in glory.
Transition: The way of the cross involves suffering. It is done when we deny ourselves. It is done when we lose ourselves.
II. Lose self – V.35 “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” - Mark 8:35
A. In an attempt to save your life you could very well lose it! Life can add up to zero! For years the Negro College Fund Appeal had, as its slogan, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Jesus called Judas Iscariot a “son of perdition.” Perdition simply means “a waste.” Judas Iscariot was one who wasted his life when he sold out Jesus for thirty silver coins. Jesus said it would have been better if he had not been born! Jesus recognized that it was a temptation not to go to the cross. Jesus would hear nothing of the sort. To save your life He sacrificed His own – He calls you to do nothing but the same.
B. Our life is salvaged when we lose our life for Christ and for the Gospel. We follow the way of the cross through denial, suffering and sacrifice. It is in losing one’s life in service to Christ that one reaps life that is abundant and free. A tragedy of life is to waste this precious, once-in-a-lifetime life.
Transition: The way of the cross involves suffering. We deny ourselves, we lose ourselves. We crucify ourselves.
III. Crucify self – V.34 [You must] “take up his cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34
A. Take up your cross. The rugged cross means a rugged way of life for a follower of Christ. The Christian style of life is a hard life. An author once wrote, “No cross is so extreme, as to have none. There is no gain without pain!” It was said that President Truman had a sign on his desk which read: “Bring me only bad news. Good news weakens me!”
B. We follow after Christ. His yoke is easy and His burden light. Without Him we will but stumble. Following in His wake He leads us throughout this human pilgrimage until we reach the goal and our work is done. As we follow along this path there will be dark days and lonely valleys yet our Captain knows the way. He’s walked the path of suffering only to come out victorious. As He leads our sufferings and crosses are made palatable. Lent is a time of suffering – yet it is suffering which we can endure.
CONCLUSION: Let us suffer here with Jesus,
To His image e’er conform;
Heaven’s glory soon will please us.
Sunshine follow on the storm.
Tho’ we sow in tears of sorrow,
We shall reap in heav’nly joy;
And the fears that now annoy
Shall be laughter on the morrow,
Christ I suffer here with Thee;
There, oh, share Thy joy with me!
Artwork by Ed Riojas, © Higher Things; - Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld ©WELS;