Welcome to the journey. Today’s trek promises to be busy, educational, and challenging. This Jesus, that we are walking with and following around the towns and villages is gathering quite the crowds. There are about 4,000 additional followers in today’s story. The more that follow Him, the more opposition He faces from religious authorities. Take a look around as we walk through Mark 8.
- Mark 8:1-12, Jesus feeds a crowd of 4,000.
- Mark 8:11-13, The Pharisees demand to see miraculous proof of who Jesus is.
- Mark 8:14-21, Jesus warns the 12 about the leavening influence of the Pharisees and Herod.
- Mark 8:22-26, A blind man at Bethsaida receives his sight in a two-step healing.
- Mark 8:27-30, Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ – the Messiah God promised by the prophets.
- Mark 8:31-33, Peter falls from a great confession to a mistaken pride and misunderstanding of what the role Christ is.
- Mark 8:34-38, Jesus explains what following Him means.
Following Jesus, this is our journey – the one I am taking you on. I am asking you to follow Him alongside of me. Together, you and I, being followers of this Jesus; the one Peter confessed to be Christ. If you plan to follow Him as His disciple, and not as one of the multitude on the edge or as a Pharisee looking to trap Him, there are some warnings from Jesus that you need to know. Look back to Mark 8:34-38:
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. 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? For what can a man give in return for his soul? 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.”
- You must deny you. This is tougher than it sounds. This means I tell myself, “NO” when my wants, desires, plans, and life are in conflict with the will and word of God.
- You must CRUCIFY you. Taking up a cross is not simply carrying a burden, It is heading to your death. You die to you so you can life for Christ (cf. Gal 2:20; Rom 6:3-6).
- Know that there is NOthing in this world that is worth giving up the salvation of your soul (cf. 1 Joh 2:15-17).
- Do not be ashamed of Jesus. Be willing to live in a way that seems crazy to those in the world. Do not let fear keep you from speaking Christ’s name, from praying, from shouting “Hallelujah!”, nor from giving God glory for life and salvation.
Let me offer some practical advice on how to do this. This is what I try to put into practice. I wish I can say that I am 100% consistent. I am not, but I am getting stronger and more consistent as I go.
- Start each day with a verbal commitment in prayer saying, “Today is your day, God. Today, I am living for You and doing Your will.”
- Look at each day’s events and decisions knowing you died to self and are living as a servant of God. Ask yourself, “Am I doing this for my glory and satisfaction or for God?” (cf. Col 3:4, 17).
- Do only what will strengthen your relationship with God. Avoid those things which can lead you into the world away from God.
- Give God credit for the blessings in your life as you talk with co-workers and neighbors. Do not be afraid to sincerely and audibly say, “Thank God for . . .”
Will you continue the journey as a distant follower or as a disciple?
Side note: Why do you think Jesus took two steps to heal the blind man in Bethsaida?