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Mark 8,31-38 I offer you suffering - follow me

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“I promise you only Suffering… Follow me!”

Mark 8: 27-38

Peter's Confession of Christ

 27 Jesus and his disciples went on

to the villages around Caesarea Philippi.

On the way he asked them, "Who do people say I am?"

28 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist;

others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets."

29 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"

Peter answered, "You are the Christ."

30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

Jesus Predicts His Death

31 He then began to teach them

that the Son of Man must suffer many things

and be rejected by the elders,

chief priests and teachers of the law,

and that he must be killed

and after three days rise again.

32 He spoke plainly about this,

and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples,

he rebuked Peter.

"Get behind me, Satan!" he said.

"You do not have in mind the things of God,

but the things of men."

34 Then he called the crowd to him

along with his disciples and said:

"If anyone would come after me,

he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

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.

36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world,

yet forfeit his soul?

37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words

in this adulterous and sinful generation,

the Son of Man will be ashamed of him

when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."


This morning I need you to work with me a little bit…

I’m going to ask you to name some people

       That inspire you.

These can be historical figures,

       Or people in today’s world…

People in who’se footsteps you would like to follow,

       And who inspire you in your daily life.

I’ll help you with some obvious examples like Jesus,

       the apostle Paul, Mother Teresa, Pastor Ferd…


       Just name some people that come to mind…

       Role models…


       People that inspire you…

(Give time to respond)

A person that inspires me is a National Geographic photographer

       By the name of Dewitt Jones,

       Who invites people through his photography

       To Celebrate what’s right with the world.

Another Person that inspires me is Peter Stucky.

He is a Pastor and the Leader of the Mennonite Church

in Colombia.

On any given day

       Peter sits face to face with with Military leaders

Of the armed groups and the Colombian Government

And in the name of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace,

He shares the hope of peaceful reconciliation

that he has for his country.

Peter is a man who dances with death threats all the time…

       And yet he has an unappologetic message of peace

       And hope for a country that is deeply wounded

       By civil war.

I asked myself,

       “What is it about the life of our role models (heroes)

       That inspires us

       Or that makes us want to be like them

       And follow their example?”

What do you think?

       “What is it that makes us want to be like them?”

       “What is it about them that inspires us?”

(Give time to respond)




Well, here are a few things that I came up with:




       A sense of direction and purpose…


       Inner strength…

       Thinking outside the box…

       A willingness to give up something to achieve a greater goal

       A willingness to sacrifice and to suffer.


Ill.: A young Pastor was officiating at the funeral of a war veteran. 

The dead man's military friends

Wanted to have a part in the service at the funeral home,

so they asked the pastor to lead them to the casket,

stand with them for a solemn moment of remembrance,

and then to lead them out through the side door.

This he did,

but unfortunately the effect was somewhat spoiled

when he picked the wrong door.

The result was that they marched with military precision

into a broom closet,

in full view of the mourners,

and they had to make a hasty and embarasing retreat.

This true story illustrates that

if you're going to lead,

make sure you know where you're going.

And if you're going to follow,

make sure that you follow

someone who knows what he is doing! 

In the Gospel of Mark,

       Jesus puts the disciples to the test by taking a poll.

       “Who do people say that I am?”

       “And, you guys… who do you say that I am?”

For Peter it was very obvious: “You are the Christ.”

And in the next breath Jesus told them

       That he had to suffer and be rejected and killed…

The disciples’ opinion, led by Peter,

       Was that Jesus would be the kind of military ruler

       That the Jews had expected for many centuries.

Suffering, rejection and death

       Was not on their program.

William Barkley says in his commentary

that no one could ever say that

Jesus tricked them into following him.

Jesus never tells us that to be his disciples

will be a comfortable ride in a convertible

waving to a cheering crowd.

He doesn’t bribe us by offering us an easy life…

He didn’t offer peace and tranquility

       And financial security and early retirement.

With brutal honesty Jesus tells us

that life as his follower

is not going to be one long umbrella drink

on a peaceful beach.

But rather,

       A life of giving up,

       Self-denial, suffering, even death.

Sir Winston Churchill became the Prime Minister of England

During WWII.

When he was campaigning

He offered his people only “blood, toil, tears and sweat”

Because England was at war.

Victory and glory would not be achieved

       Without sacrifice and blood and toil.

Sidetrack: Churchill was a bit of a funny character.

       On one occasion a Lady,

who disagreed with him on a statement he made,

came to him and snapped,

“Mister Churchill, if Iwas your wife

I would give you a glass of poison.”

       Without thinking twice, he replied,

       “Madam, if you were my wife I would drink it.”

The Italian patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi who lived in the 1800s

led many military campaigns to unify his country.

His battle cry was,

“I offer neither pay, nor quarters, nor provisions;

I offer hunger, thirst, forced marches, battles and death.

Let him who loves his country in his heart,

and not with his lips only, follow me.

Soldiers, all our efforts against superior forces

have been unavailing.

I have nothing to offer you but hunger and thirst,

hardship and death;   

but I call on all who love their country to join with me.”

Too often in our spiritual life

When we think about discipleship

We see images of following Jesus to quiet waters,

or walking and talking with him in the garden alone…

images of resting in safety and tranquility…

far removed from the pain and dangers of the world.

Is it any wonder

       That so many Christians get bored

       And loose interest in following Jesus?  

We have no real cause

for which it would be a privilege to sacrifice ones life…

Jesus gave his follwers a crash course in discipleship.

       “You say that I’m the Christ…

       Well, let me tell you something:

The son of man must suffer…

and be rejected…

and be killed.

And if you want to follow me

You must say ‘no’ to your own wishes and desires…

Your hopes and aspirations

And take up your cross – be prepared to suffer –

And follow me.”

These words:


“be rejected”,

“and killed”,

they strike at the heart of our expectations of easy salvation.

For us, just as much as for Peter,

it is almost impossible to accept the notion

that the cross is the definition of what it means to follow Jesus.

Let me say that again:

Suffering is the definition of what it means to follow Jesus.

"If anyone would come after me,

he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

That is suffering!

Jesus in effect was saying,

“I offer neither pay, nor housing, nor provisions;

I offer hunger, thirst, forced marches, battles and death.

Let him who loves his Saviour in his heart,

and not with his lips only, follow me.”

       “I offer you only hardship and suffering…

       Follow me.”

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.”

Dave and Nikki McDonald were missionaries to Iraq.

While in Iraq working on a water-purification project

and sharing the Gospel

they were shot in pieces by mortar fire

and AK-47 assault rifles.

Dave was shot destroying his spleen and breaking his back.

Still, he managed to get a call out on his cell phone

to an ambulance.

His wife also was hit.

When the wife went in for surgery,

she asked about Dave.

They assured her he would be okay.

It was only when she woke up in a Hospital in Dallas, TX

that they told her that he has died

and was buried several days ago

while she was still unconscious.

But even before Nikki McDonald was released from the Hospital

she was already making plans to return to Iraq

and continue their mission!

Dave’s parents were asked if it was worth it,

and they said that if they had it to do over again

they would pray for Dave

to follow the Lord Jesus and to serve him with all his heart!

I believe that God is calling us today

More than ever before to follow Jesus.

But this can never mean that we follow him

       Only as long as its safe and comfortable.

In November of 2003 I was given the opportunity

       To go on a study tour to Colombia.

Colombia, as you know, is one of the most violent countries

In the world.

Many well meaning people from our church

tried to persuade me not to go because it was too dangerous.

But, I felt a compelling need to go

       And see and experience the plight of the Church in Colombia

       And on behalf of our congregation to stand in solidarity

       With many who live with the threat of death all the time.

It was as if God was saying to me,

“If you want to follow me,

       You must be willing to take a risk.”

While we were in Colombia we tried to stay away

       From any conflicted areas

       And I’m thankful that God kept us all safe.

But we heard again and again

       How much the churches appreciated that we had come

       To visit them and show them that we care.

I am convinced that this is also part of what compelled

       Katie and Amanda to go to Africa,

       And Wes to serve in India,

       And Ann and Stella in the Ukraine…

I believe that the feeling of “suffering with the people”

       Is also what motives Henry & Rita

to serve at Union Gospel Mission…

And what drove our young people

       To serve at Matheson Island and the camps…

And it is the hope that a seed may fall into the ground and die…

       And then wake up and grow into a mighty tree

       That gives shade and fruit

       That brings out our Sunday School teachers,

       And club leaders and youth sponsors.

Indeed, following Jesus sometimes leaves us

with a feeling of defeat.

“Another wasted evening preparing my lesson…

Or whatever”

But, this is the challenge that we need

To grow in our Christian walk.

Sometimes we need to be confronted with something

       That is bigger than ourselves…

       Hard work…


       Even outright suffering…

Sometimes God allows something very precious

to be taken away from us…

       A relationship with a child or a parent…

a spouse or a best friend…

       The life of a loved one…

       Financial security…

       The dream of a good future…

       Our health…

Sometimes God gives us a real cross to bear

       And he says, “Take up your cross and follow me!”

Remember your heroes that you mentioned earlier?

Let me turn the question around for a second:

       Who do you want to be a role model for?

       Who is looking up to you right now and saying:

       “Someday, I want to be like John…

       I want to develop into a spiritual person like Elisabeth…”

Who is watching you right now and gaining inspiration

       To be a follower of Jesus because of your example?

What will it take for you to be a person

that other people want to be like?

It is my prayer that the call of Jesus

Would be burnt into our hearts:

       “Deny yourself!

       It’s not about you!

       It’s about God’s Kingdom!

Follow me!”

Someone said,

The job of the church is not to impact the church,

but to impact the world.

It’s like a huddle in a football game.

67,000 people don’t pay $25.00 a ticket

to watch the Titans huddle.

What if you went to a Titans game and for 2 ½ hours

you watched 11 men stand in a circle and talk?

That’s not what you pay for!!

67,000 people pay $25 a ticket or more

to see what difference the huddle makes.

What they want to know is,

having called the play in secret,

does it work in public?

The challenge for the church is not what we do

when we call our Sunday morning huddle,

but what we do when we break our huddle

and head to our Monday morning assignment.

When Satan lines up against us,

what difference does it make

that we have decided to follow Jesus?

Lord Jesus,

       We proclaim you as Lord,

       And yet we expect you to be our servant…

Your word tell us

       Not to live any longer

       According to the pattern of this world,

       But to be renewed

       By the renewing of our minds.

Lord, challenge us,

       Inspire us,

       Motivate us,

       Give us mountains to climb

       And races to run

       That will make us fit for your kingdom.

Give us hearts that lift the burdens of those

       Who fall down under them.

Give us people to love and to serve in your name.

And, dare we ask,

       If it is your precious will

       Invite us into your suffering as we follow you,

       So that our joy may be complete in you alone.



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