A call to commitment
Doxology: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow”
We praise the Most High; we honour and glorify Him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to Him: “What have you done?” (Daniel 4:34-35)
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love. (2 John 3)
Hymn no 92: “Glory be to God the Father”
Our Father in heaven, as we have come to worship You, we come before you remembering the prayer of Daniel:
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.” (Daniel 2:20-23)
Now Father, please visit us in your power, glory, wisdom, majesty, grace and sovereignty. In and through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.
8 Hammer throw
8 High jump
8 Go for it! Giving everything.
8 Run to win the prize
8 Strict training
8 Do not run without a plan
8 The Christian race
8 “Everyone who competes ...”
8 Hymn No 455: “Onward Christian soldiers”
8 Scripture Reading: Leviticus 19:1-4, 11-18.
8 Prayer of Confession and thanksgiving
8 Declaration of pardoning
Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.
8 Hymn No 497: “How blest is he”
8 Offering and Dedication:
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)
All (remaining seated) sing:
8 Hymn 610 (with offering)
8 Prayer for others
8 Scripture Reading: Mark 8:31-9:1
8 at verse 34
Prayer: opening of the Word
8 Sermon: Title – Following Christ – Commitment.
A remarkable man was born in 1919. He grew up in Auckland, New Zealand. It was in New Zealand that he became interested in mountain climbing. Although he made his living as a beekeeper, he climbed mountains in New Zealand, then in the Alps, and finally in the Himalayas, where he climbed 11 different peaks of over 20,000 feet. By this time, 8 Sir Edmund Hillary was ready to confront the world's highest mountain.
8 The 1953 expedition reached the South Peak on May, but all but two of the climbers who had come this far were forced to turn back by exhaustion at the high altitude. At last, Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, a native Nepalese climber, were the only members of the party able to make the final assault on the summit.
8 At 11:30 on the morning of May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit, 29,028 feet above sea level, the highest spot on earth. As remarkable as the feat of reaching the summit, was the treacherous climb back down the peak.
8 "We didn't know if it was humanly possible to reach the top of Mt. Everest. And even using oxygen as we were, if we did get to the top, we weren't at all sure whether we wouldn't drop dead or something of that nature."
What make people do such things? I think it boils down to perseverance and commitment. But when people do reach their dream, they are remembered for their bravery and their achievement. And it then becomes the dream of many.
8 There was another man. He was a learned man, studying under the best of professors of his time. He held high position in the religion of his time. He was even trusted with the task to eradicate those who would wander from the faith and charge them with jail sentences. He was feared by the followers of the new sect, and he was probably earmarked by his own leaders to take high office when the time should arrive.
But God changed his life. And he committed, by the grace of God, himself to the task of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, whom he at first did not love. Later in his life he wrote: “The love of Christ compels me.” He turned his back on what he deemed at profitable and fully committed to the cause of Jesus Christ. This man was Paul. He writes in 2Corinthians 6:
8 As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger. (2 Corinthians 6:4-5)
8 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
In Mark 8:34-37 our Lord spells out the cost of following Him.
Jesus had just taught his disciples what was about to happen to them.
8 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. (Mark 8:31)
8 This was God’s plan for the salvation of mankind: That He, the perfect sacrifice, the perfect Mediator, would be sent to earth with the mission to take the sin of mankind upon Him and die in their place on the cross. He would be victorious over death and hell and sin, and He would rise again after three days.
8 In the mind of Peter that was too much and he rebuked Jesus. Jesus replied with: “Get behind Me.” This translation is not the best. It has the element of “depart from Me” in it. It is the same word Jesus used when He was tempted by Satan in Matthew 4:10. There He said, “Go away from Me!”
In the same way, Peter now did not understand God’s plan of redemption. Just as Satan did in the wilderness, he attempted to keep Jesus away from the cross.
Here the command is, “Go away, depart!” The Messiah had to deny Himself, take up his cross, and follow the will of the Father in order to save the lost.
8 Then Jesus called the people as well as his disciples to Him and said:
· 8 The calling of Jesus
o 8 surprisingly free
o 8 devastatingly harsh
• 8 If anyone desire to come after Me to become my disciple
– 8 If: condition - there is a cost involved; not in order to be saved; it states the quality of following; it describes the cost of discipleship, not the cost of salvation.
– 8 Desire: You have heard the calling - you want to follow
– 8 Follow Me: Do as Jesus does - fulfilling his calling
– 8 Become my disciple: Follower of Jesus - to be known as one of Jesus
· 8 “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”.
o 8 Deny himself: to refuse to give thought to or express concern for; to say “NO” to himself. to say that one does not know about or is in any way related to a person – as Peter did in the court by the fire when the rooster crowed.
To express something of what is meant here, we may look at 1Peter 4:1-2
8 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1-2)
Jesus himself prayed: “Not my will be done, but Thy will be done.” It is to give up your personal rights. To stand in the service of God, to be his disciple, to follow Jesus, begins here: Not my will, Your will be done. I give up what ever I have – it belongs to You. My purse, wallet, time, talents, strength, my desires, my plans – whatever I have. It is to become like the athlete preparing for the Olympic medal: getting up early, eating a special diet, engage in a strict exercise regime – only with purpose in mind: I deny my body, I say “NO” to my desires, because I have my mind set on one thing: the honour and glory of God who saved me. To Him belongs my life.
What is the chief purpose for man? To enjoy God and love Him forever.
· 8 Take up his cross: the context help us. Jesus predicted his death. To take up the cross is
o to be prepared to endure severe suffering, even to the point of death
o To be counted as one who is executed
o To stop existing for and in myself
o His cross – it points to the giving up of all personal preferences and desires. There cannot be two desires if one follows Jesus. You cannot have a desire to follow Him and then still hang on to your own desires. “If you desire to follow Me, you must put and end to your own desires”
· 8 Follow Me: After all the references to “himself” in this verse, the direction changes: not ourselves anymore, but now it points to Jesus: Follow Me. Jesus was on his way to fulfil the will of his Father. To follow Jesus is to do as He did: to live a life glorifying the Father.
o 8 to follow or accompany someone who takes the lead in determining direction and route of movement.
o 8 to be a follower or a disciple of someone, in the sense of adhering to the teachings or instructions of a leader and in promoting the cause of such a leader.
o And as Jesus was hated by the world and eventually nailed to the cross, so we must expect to be dealt with by this world. Let’s hear what the Holy Spirit teaches through Peter:
8 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:21-24)
o 8 Example of others: Paul – imprisoned, Peter – hanged upside down; James – stoned to death; modern day missionaries denying themselves for the Gospel. What is the quality of our following; of our discipleship?
8 “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:37-39)
o Are we worthy of the Name of Christ?