Mark 8:34 AV
And when he had called
the people¹ unto him
with his disciples also,
he said unto them,
whosoever will come after me,
let him deny² himself,
and take up his cross, and follow me.
¹) The crowd, the multitude.
²) To affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone. In this case one’s self, so to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests
And Jesus called [to Him] the throng with His disciples and said to them, If anyone intends to come after Me, let him deny himself [forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight of himself and his own interests] and take up his cross, and [joining Me as a disciple and siding with My party] follow with Me [continually, cleaving steadfastly to Me]. [AMP] And he called to him the crowd with his disciples and said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. [ESV] Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. [MSB] And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. [KJV] 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. [NIV] Then he called his disciples and the crowds to come over and listen. "If any of you wants to be my follower," he told them, "you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me. [NLT] When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. [NKJV]
Some further information:
The gospel benefits are solely on the basis of personal choice and meeting certain conditions (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 22:17).
No one who is unwilling to deny himself can legitimately claim to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Take up his cross.
This phrase reveals the extent of self-denial; to the point of death, if necessary.
Cross-bearing begins when the penitent sinner becomes aware that he cannot save himself and, holding nothing back, surrenders completely to God’s mercy (cf. Matthew 19:21,22).
The cross is a well known instrument of most cruel and ignominious punishment, borrowed by the Greeks and Romans from the Phoenicians; to it were affixed among the Romans, down to the time of Constantine the Great, the guiltiest criminals, particularly the basest slaves, robbers, the authors and abetters of insurrections, and occasionally in the provinces, at the arbitrary pleasure of the governors, upright and peaceable men also, and even Roman citizens themselves.
Habitually follow Jesus, regardless of the price – even to death (Mark 8:35), not only when it is easy, convenient, and popular (Luke 9:62; Hebrews 10:38-39).
This is the last of 4 things one must do to be saved after being born again:
- Continue to be willing to follow Jesus (Mark 8:34; John 7:17, 12:26)
- Deny yourself daily; renounce all self-dependence, self-interests, and self-pursuits which are contrary to God (Mark 8:34; Romans 6:16-23, 8:1-13; Galatians 5:19-24; Colossians 3:1-10)
- Take up your cross daily (Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; Romans 6:11-13, 8:12-13; Colossians 1:23, 2:6-7, 3:5-10)
- Continue to follow the Christ daily, not just for a while (John 10:26-28)
This means to follow one who precedes, join him as his attendant, accompany him, but also to join one as a disciple, become or be his disciple, side with his party.
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After the Lord Jesus had pointed out to His disciples His suffering, death and resurrection (Mark 8:31-33), He spoke equally emphatically to them about the consequences of following Him (Mark 8:34-38, 9: 1).
It is immediately noticeable that, according to Mark, Jesus was not only addressing His disciples with these words, but also the crowd that He especially called to Himself.
Apparently these statements have a wider scope than those of one’s own disciplinary circle; therefore they are general.
With these words, Jesus made it clear to His disciples and the crowd the three conditions that a person must meet who wants to come after Him.
- To begin with, such a person must deny himself (cf. Matthew 16:24; Luke 9:23). Such a person will have to be willing to give up his own ‘me’ completely. If necessary, He will have to risk His life for Him, as He, Jesus, would shortly do also for them (cf. Mark 10:45).
- The second condition is also in the same line:
Such a person will have to take up his cross (cf. Matthew 10:38, 16:24; Luke 9:23, 14:27).
In view of the Roman occupation of the country, they knew exactly what Jesus was referring to when he said ‘to bear his cross’: the terrible consequences of dying on a cross, as it was awaiting Himself.
All things considered, those two conditions, that of self-denial and of bearing the cross, are about the way of the Lord Jesus Himself.
- And the third condition is related to this: “and he must follow me” (cf. Mark 1:17). He Himself led the way in that way and such a person will have to follow Him permanently.
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This is what all should know, and consider, if you expect the Christ to heal your soul:
● You must not be indulgent of the ease of the body; for (Mark 8:34), “Whosoever will come after me for spiritual cures, as these people do for bodily cures, let him deny himself, and live a life of self-denial, mortification, and contempt of the world; let him not pretend to be his own physician, but renounce all confidence in himself and his own righteousness and strength, and let him take up his cross, conforming himself to the pattern of a crucified Jesus, and accommodating himself to the will of God in all the afflictions he lies under; and thus let him continue to follow me;’’ as many of those did, whom Christ healed.
Those that will be the Christ’s patients
▪︎ must attend on Him,
▪︎ converse with Him,
▪︎ receive instruction from Him
▪︎ and receive reproof from him,
as those did that followed him, and must resolve they will never forsake him.
● You must not be solicitous for the life of the body, when you cannot keep it without quitting the Christ (Mark 8:35). Are we invited by the words and works of the christ to follow him?
Let us sit down, and count the cost, whether we can prefer our advantages by the Christ before life itself, whether we can bear to think of losing our life for sake of the Christ, and for sake of the Gospel.
When the devil is drawing away disciples and servants after him, he conceals the worst of it, tells them only of the pleasure, but nothing of the peril, of his service; Ye shall not surely die; but what there is of trouble and danger in the service of Christ, he tells us of it before, tells us we shall suffer, perhaps we shall die, in the cause; and represents the discouragements not less, but greater, than commonly they prove, that it may appear he deals fairly with us, and is not afraid that we should know the worst; because the advantages of his service abundantly suffice to balance the discouragements, if we will but impartially set the one over against the other.
● We must not dread the loss of our lives, provided it be in the cause of the Christ (Mark 8:35); Whosoever will save his life, by declining the Christ, and refusing to come to Him, or by disowning and denying Him after he has in profession come to the Christ,
• he shall lose it,
• he shall lose the comfort of his natural life,
• he shall lose the root of his spiritual life,
• he shall lose the fountain of his spiritual life,
• and shall lose all his hopes of eternal life;
such a bad bargain will he make for himself.
But whosoever shall lose his life, shall be truly willing to lose it, shall venture it, shall lay it down when he cannot keep it without denying Christ, he shall save it, he shall be an unspeakable gainer; for the loss of his life shall be made up to him in a better life.
It is looked upon to be some kind of recompence to those who lose their lives in the service of their prince and country, to have their memories honoured and their families provided for; but what is that to the recompence which Christ makes in eternal life to all that die for him?
● We must dread the loss of our souls, though we should gain the whole world by it (Mark 8:36,37); For what shall it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world, and all the wealth, honour, and pleasure, in it, by denying Christ, and lose his own soul?
“True it is,’’ said Bishop Hooper, the night before he suffered martyrdom, “that life is sweet, and death is bitter, but eternal death is more bitter, and eternal life is more sweet.’’
As the happiness of heaven with Christ, is enough to counter the loss of life itself for Christ, so the gain of all the world in sin, is not sufficient to counter the ruin of the soul by sin.
What that is that men do, to save their lives, and gain the world, he tells us (Mark 8:38), and of what fatal consequence it will be to them; Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed. Something like this we also read in Matthew 10:33, but it is here expressed more fully.
▪︎ Note that we live in a world which is taken by an adulterous and sinful generation; a generation that is like the generations before the flood, and that of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Some ages, and some places, are now more adulterous and sinful, as that was, in which the Christ lived. In such a generation the cause of Christ is opposed and run down, and those that own it, are exposed to reproach and contempt, and everywhere ridiculed and spoken against.
▪︎ Note that there are many, who are ashamed of their relation with the Christ, and that they cannot bear to be frowned upon and despised, and therefore throw off their profession, and go down the stream of a prevailing apostasy.
▪︎ Note that there is a day coming, when the cause of the Christ will appear as bright and illustrious as now it appears mean and contemptible; when the Son of man comes in the glory of his Father with his holy angels, as the true Shechinah, the brightness of his Father’s glory, and the Lord of angels.
▪︎ Note that those that are ashamed of Christ in this world where He is despised, He will be ashamed of, in that world where He is eternally adored. They shall not share with Him in His glory then, that were not willing to share with Him in His disgrace now.
Now let us reflect on this
Believing means obediently following the Christ.
Peter had to learn that too. He had already planned the way to redemption. And in that way there was no room for the cross.
That brings him closer to us than we sometimes think.
We want to be blessed, but in our own way. That is also why the “prosperity churches” are thriving.
But this is also how we get in the way of the Lord.
And He will show you your place: behind Him.
Following Him costs self-denial.
You must die to yourself to pray from your heart: “Your will be done.”
Leave your own way, says the Christ, come after Me.
Can’t you? … Or don’t you want to?
He calls you and teaches you His way through Word and Spirit.
Then it applies: Whoever loses his life will keep it.
Because after the Christ you come to life through the cross and grave.
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