Pastor David B. Curtis

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Follow Me!

Mark 8:34-38

Delivered 09/10/2006

The New Testament is full of instructions about discipleship. Here in Mark's Gospel, we find Jesus beginning to teach the twelve just what discipleship is all about. They knew He had called them. They saw themselves as His followers. But did they understand what it meant to follow Him? The call of Jesus, "Follow me" is a call to discipleship. But what does that mean? Hopefully, by the time we finish, you will understand what it means to be a disciple.

Consider again the context. They are at Caesarea Philippi, Simon Peter had made the great confession concerning Christ, "Thou art the Christ." Jesus affirmed that this confession came via divine revelation and not by clever thought. Just after this, Jesus began to reveal to His disciples the necessity of His suffering, death, and resurrection. The divine necessity of His death stood out in Christ's emphasis, "but Peter objected and rebuked the Lord. Well-intentioned, I'm sure, still Peter was out of line and certainly out of God's will. Eternity for the elect of God rested firmly upon this divine necessity of Christ's death and resurrection. Yet Peter looked for another way, a different kind of life that had no cross.

At this point Jesus begins to explain the centrality of the cross-centered life for His disciples as well. As we live with the death of Christ on our behalf in view, it changes everything: our desires, outlook, aspirations, relationships, and goals. From the moment that we are brought to life by the Holy Spirit's regenerating power, and we trust in Christ as our Savior, we embark on a new journey. In it we follow after Jesus Christ, who bought us with the price of His own bloody death at the cross.

So what does it look like to be a disciple? What kind of life pleases our Lord?

Mark 8:34 (NASB) And He summoned the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

Matthew only speaks of Jesus telling His disciples the words recorded for us here, but Luke 9:23 hints at there being more than simply His disciples present when He uses the word "all", while Mark records that Jesus "summoned the multitude with His disciples."

Where did this multitude come from? Remember the context and culture! I believe that Jesus was standing at the pagan shrine of Pan called the "Rock of the gods" while He spoke to His disciples. They had walked about 25 miles to get there, and the text indicates that it was just Jesus and the disciples. So where did the multitude come from? Could it be possible that some of the worshipers of Pan had seen Him and His disciples and had come over to find out what Jesus was teaching? It is certainly possible.

Jesus says to His disciples and this crowd, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." The present tense of "wishes" combined with the aorist infinitive "to come," insists upon an ongoing desire upon a settled aim-to follow after Jesus Christ. You might falter in that aim, but the desire remains. Do you have this ongoing desire to follow Christ?

How much does it cost? What is the price tag for discipleship?

"Let him Deny himself" ­ this command of Christ shows what He insists upon for those desiring to come after Him. The word "deny" is from the Greek word aparneomai. It is the same word that is used of Peter denying Christ (Mark 14:30). So we know that it is a strong word. Maybe the best way to understand it is to see that it was also the word used by Peter to describe the way that the Jews and religious leaders denied Christ.

Acts 3:14 (NASB) "But you disowned [arneomai] the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,

To deny Christ is to insist that He will not rule over your life. So to deny self is to insist that Christ must rule over your life. Nothing else will do; you must have the rule of Christ as preeminent in life. The closest opposite of the notion of "self-denial" is "self-allegiance"-concerned ultimately for one's own good, looking out for number one.

All of us very naturally want to control our lives; I want what I want, when I want it, and how I want it! From the time a little baby first begins to express himself this trait of human nature shouts forth from him. But as a disciple of Jesus Christ that changes. Life is reordered. What I had desired before ­ to please myself ­ is now laid aside so that I might please Another. What I wanted to do with my life ­ my own aspirations ­ is denied so that I might serve Jesus Christ as He desires.

Denying self means that we repudiate our natural feelings about ourselves, i.e., our right to ourselves, our right to run our own lives. We are to deny that we own ourselves. We do not have the final right to decide what we are going to do, or where we are going to go. Paul put it this way to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NASB) Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

If you are going to follow Jesus, you no longer own yourself. He has ultimate rights; He has Lordship of your life. This is what Jesus means by, "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself" ­ deny our self-trust, deny our self-sufficiency, deny our feeling that we are able to handle life by ourselves and run everything to suit ourselves.

The next command amplifies the first. "Let him deny himself, and take up his cross" ­ the Greek expresses this as a resolute decision on the part of the disciple. There is no discipleship without a cross. Luke adds the adverb "daily"; "let him take up his cross daily" (Luke 9:23). Luke's "daily" seems to demand a spiritual application and interpretation rather than a literal one.

The first century Jewish listeners knew what Jesus Christ meant when He said this. They had witnessed it happening before as those non-citizens, sentenced to die by the Roman authorities, often would be compelled to carry their own cross to the place of execution. To take up the cross means to take denying self one step farther. It means to die to your will, your rights, and your ambitions.

As Jesus went to the cross, He abandoned everything to follow after the Father's will. He had the right to live since He had never sinned. But He died. He did not deserve to be separated from the Father or feel the agony of suffering or receive the mocking at the instigation of ungodly men. But He did, and He died.

Though we can identify many different areas we are called upon to die to, I think that the primary implication is that we die to our perceived rights. We're swamped in our day by people claiming their rights; "A woman has the right to choose," the pro-abortionist says. "People have the right to same-sex marriage," the sodomites say. The pornographer claims he has the right to pollute the minds of any he can find. The college student claims the right to experiment with sex and drugs.

Rights! We know there are problems with all of these areas; no one would deny this. But rights come in less demonstrable ways: Your spouse offends you by a comment, so you have the right to secure vengeance with angry words or the cold shoulder; the government takes more than their share, so you have the right to cheat on your income tax return; someone cuts in front of you in the traffic line, so you have a right to flip them the bird or blurt out obscenities; you are a teenager and you think that you have the right to fill your weekend with entertainment ­ your parent corrects you so you think that you have the right to be sullen and display passive anger. Think about how often we've nursed our rights when something happens to us. Jesus Christ says, Take up your cross, die to your rights, receive My teaching, demonstrate grace, kindness, and service toward those that you think have trampled your rights.

Leon Morris capsules this "taking up one's cross": "Jesus was speaking about a death to a whole way of life; He was talking about the utmost in self-sacrifice, a very death to selfishness and all forms of self-seeking."

What Jesus means by His statement must be understood in the context of Peter's statement that the impending death of Jesus shouldn't have to take place ­ that is, that man's own will so often gets in the way for God's will to be outworked that they must be concerned to kill off their own reasoning and understanding that they might live for the will of the Father and, ultimately, the will of Jesus.

In our day, we think if somebody has to carry some burdens through life, that means they have to carry their cross. That is not what it meant in Jesus' time. In Jesus' time, a person carrying their cross was going to their death. Here is the call for those who would follow Jesus, like you and like me, to die--to die to our own interests and to give our life over to Jesus Christ. Once you have denied yourself, and taken up your cross, now you are ready to follow Christ!

"Follow me" - He tells us just as He told Peter, Andrew, James, and John. The word implies to follow as a disciple. A disciple is a learner who looks to His Master to learn from Him, to imitate His ways, to know His words, to see how He treats others, to find in Him the model for our response to those that revile us. They were to follow Him and walk as He walked. He was the One Who gave Himself utterly for others and lived simply to please the Father. And they were to walk as He walked. Paul put it this way:

Galatians 2:20 (NASB) "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.

In the original Greek, these steps are stated in the present, continuous tense. That means: "Keep on denying yourself, keep on taking up your cross, keep on following me."

In dealing with this passage in Mark, one commentator wrote: "This is the call of discipleship. There are not Christians and then disciples, as though they were two different levels of believers in God's sight. No, they are one in the same."

Many Christian teachers use the term "disciple" as synonymous with that of a Christian. But I think there is a difference between a Christian and a disciple. How does a person become a Christian? What do you have to do to be a Christian? The answer is simple ­ believe the gospel! A person becomes a Christian by faith in Jesus Christ:

Romans 4:5 (NASB) But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness,

A person becomes a Christian when they understand and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. At that moment they are placed into the body of Christ, given Christ's righteousness, indwelt by God, and are as sure of heaven as if they were already there. They are "in Christ."

The Scriptures make it quite clear that salvation is a free gift of God's grace, but the Scriptures also teach that discipleship is costly. Salvation is our birth into the Christian life, and discipleship is our education and maturity in the Christian life. Compare these two texts:

John 3:16 (NASB) "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Eternal life is a gift of grace to all who believe ­ do you see any cost involved here? But now notice:

Luke 14:33 (NASB) "So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

Discipleship is a call to forsake all and follow Christ. Can this be talking about the same thing as John in John 3:16? I don't see how. I see discipleship as a conditional relationship that can be interrupted or terminated after it has begun. All Christians are called to be disciples, but not all are:

John 8:31 (NASB) Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;

Notice carefully Jesus is speaking to those Jews who had believed Him. He is telling these believers how to be disciples ­ they must abide in His word.

John 15:3-4 (NASB) "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

Jesus tells the eleven "Your are already clean" now abide in me. If we go back a couple of chapters, we see that clean refers to salvation:

John 13:10-11 (NASB) Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you." 11 For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, "Not all of you are clean."

The word "clean" is katharos, it is used here of salvation. Jesus says, "But not all of you," because Judas was there (verse 11). Jesus is telling them (the eleven) that they are clean, they are saved.

So, abiding in Christ is different from being saved, because He told believers to abide in Him in John 15:4. Abiding is a relationship of discipleship where believers walk with the Lord in obedience. He is telling His disciples to abide in Him, and fruit comes from abiding, and abiding is work.

John 15:7-8 (NASB) "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. 8 "By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

So, you become a disciple by abiding in His word. Discipleship and abiding are the same thing. This is not a work of the flesh but is dependant discipline. It's you disciplining your life, structuring your life to live in obedience, while all the time depending upon God to provide the power to live it out.

Discipleship in Jesus' culture ­ a young Jewish boy in Jesus' time began the educational process at age 4-5 attending class in the synagogue taught by the Rabbi. The teaching focused primarily on the Torah, emphasizing both reading and writing Scripture. Large portions were memorized, and it is likely that many students knew the entire Torah by memory by the time this level of education was finished, about age 12. At this point, most students stayed at home to learn the family trade.

The best students continued their study (while learning a trade) in Beth Midrash also taught by a rabbi of the community. Here they (along with the adults in the town) studied the prophets and the writings in addition to Torah and began to learn the interpretations of the Oral Torah to learn how to make their own applications and interpretations. Memorization continued to be important because most people did not have their own copy of the Scripture, so they either had to know it by heart or go to the synagogue to consult the village scroll.

A few of the most outstanding Beth Midrash students sought permission to study with a famous rabbi often leaving home to travel with him for a lengthy period of time. These students were called talmidim in Hebrew, which is translated disciples. There is much more to a talmid than what we call student. A student wants to know what the teacher knows for whatever reason: a grade, a degree or even out of respect for the teacher. A talmid wants to be like the teacher, that is to become what the teacher is. That meant that students were passionately devoted to their rabbi and noted everything he did or said. This meant the rabbi/talmid relationship was a very intense and personal system of education. As the rabbi lived and taught his understanding of the Scripture, his students (talmidim) listened and watched and imitated so as to become like him. Eventually they would become teachers passing on a lifestyle to their talmidim.

The decision to follow a rabbi as a talmid meant total commitment in the first century as it does today. Since a talmid was totally devoted to becoming like the rabbi, he would have spent his entire time listening and observing the teacher to know how to understand the Scripture and how to put it into practice.

A disciple is someone who more than anything else in the world wants to be just like Jesus. Are you His disciple?

Mark 8:35-37 (NASB) "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it. 36 "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 "For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

What exactly does He mean by this? To understand this, we must first understand what He means by the word "save." A true exegesis must begin with a definition of "save." The majority of English readers see this word and automatically think -- eternal life, salvation from hell. But the Greek verb sozo-- save, and the noun soteria -- salvation, have a wide range of possible meanings. They can be referring to physical healing, rescue from danger, spiritual deliverance of various kinds, and to preservation from final judgement and hell. We must determine its meaning from its usage in the context.

Let's do a word study on the word "save."

Matthew 1:21 (NASB) "And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins."

What does sozo mean here? This is clearly a reference to deliverance from eternal damnation or hell.

Matthew 8:24-25 (NASB) And behold, there arose a great storm in the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves; but He Himself was asleep. 25 And they came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing!"

What does sozo mean here? Are they asking him to redeem them from hell? No! They are asking to be saved from drowning. Sozo is used here for physical deliverance.

Acts 4:9 (NASB) if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well,

The words "made well" are the Greek word sozo. Sozo is used here to refer to physical deliverance from an infirmity. The context is speaking of the lame man whom the disciples healed.

Acts 27:20 (NASB) And since neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small storm was assailing us, from then on all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned.

They aren't hoping for eternal life here, they are hoping for deliverance form the sea. This is again a reference to physical deliverance.

Acts 27:31 (NASB) Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, "Unless these men remain in the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved."

Some legalist will undoubtedly use this verse and say that you must be in a ship to get saved. This is referring to physical deliverance from drowning.

Acts 27:34 (NASB) "Therefore I encourage you to take some food, for this is for your preservation; for not a hair from the head of any of you shall perish."

The word "preservation" here is soteria-- salvation. He uses soteria here in the sense of health. It speaks of their physical well being.

I hope you are seeing that sozo and soteria have a broad range of meanings. The meaning of "salvation or save" must be determined by the context. And in our context He is not talking about eternal life, He is talking about quality of physical life.

Mark 8:35-37 (NASB) "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it. 36 "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 "For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

The word "life" and the word "soul" in these verses are the exact same Greek word; psuche. Why the translators chose to translate some of them as "life" and some as "soul" is beyond me. I think they should all be translated "life."

The Greek phrase "sozen ten psuche" is a standard and normal way of saying, "to save your life." There is no text in the Greek Bible where it can be shown to have the meaning: "to save the soul from hell."

Here is what Jesus said: Do you really want to live? Do you really want to max out on life? Then you need to die to self. Dying to self to follow Christ is the way of total freedom and complete fulfillment. It is the greatest paradox in life. We live by dying. We want to squeeze all we can out of this life and get every drop out of it. Jesus said: You need to let go of your desires and wishes and follow Me.

There is no more selfish life or existence than this kind of pursuit of self, nor is there anything more costly. Jesus declares that one on such a pursuit, though achieving great things in this life, "will lose it" in the end.

"He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose," Do you know who said that? It was Jim Elliot when he was in his 20s. Such a principle of life appeared foolish to the world about him. But Elliot chose to pursue a higher calling and purpose in his life.

Many of you know the story, perhaps having read his journal or one of his wife, Elisabeth Elliot's, books about Jim and his mission work. Jim Elliot graduated from Wheaton with a passion for the mission field. It never let up. But more than his passion for missions, his passion for Jesus Christ burned brightest. He faced struggles, trials, and temptations just like all of us. He wrestled for the college while maintaining excellence in his academic work. His eyes remained firmly set on the missionary call. All the while he understood that without progressing in the faith and growing in his devotion to Christ, that all of his sermons, service, and missionary zeal was vain.

Finally, Jim arrived in Ecuador and began preparation for reaching the primitive Quichua Indians, a tribe that had no dealings with the outside world. Stuck in a Stone Age time warp, the Quichua would either welcome or react to the intrusion of missionaries. Though a few appeared to welcome Jim Elliot and his four companions, their reaction came in a savage attack that left all five missionaries dead. The world cried "tragedy!" But eternity marked it quite differently. The Quichuas were eventually reached with the gospel, Jim's wife and daughter serving them as missionaries. Applicants for missionary posts surged. And even some of those that wielded the lances that speared Jim and his companions came to faith in Christ. Jim Elliot practiced what he preached: "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." He might have lost the world, but he found more riches than any of us can ever imagine.

If you save your life, if you cling to it, hoard it, get all you can for yourself, then, without a doubt, Jesus says, you will lose it. This is not a mere platitude, but a truism; He is stating a fundamental law of life. It is absolutely unbreakable. Nobody can break this law. If you save your life, says Jesus, you will lose it. You will find that you have everything you want, but you will not want anything you have. We grow in our fulfillment in life by following Jesus' example of giving up control of our life to God.

Revelation 4:11 (NASB) "Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created."

We are created for His pleasure and purpose to love and serve and worship Him forever. He has so created us that even though we pursue all the glittering toys of the world, we can never know true happiness apart from a relationship with our Creator.

For Jesus' hearers, maybe what He said is a little bit unsettling, particularly the concept of a suffering Messiah. They were counting on somebody to come in and kick the Romans out. In fact, maybe some people are even a little disappointed in a Messiah like this. So Jesus says in verse 38:

Mark 8:38 (NASB) "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."

We have to understand Jesus' use of "ashamed." The dictionary defines "ashamed" as being "affected by shame," and shame is defined as a painful emotion excited by a consciousness of guilt, disgrace, or dishonor.

But this is not the biblical definition of "shame." The biblical understanding has to do with disappointment. According to Scripture, the person who is not ashamed is the person whose trust is not misplaced, and who, therefore, is never disillusioned. The Greek word "ashamed" is aischuno. It is best translated "disappoint."

Let me give you a principle of hermeneutics. When you look up a word in Strong's or Young's Lexicon, they will give you the etymology of the word; that is the dictionary definition of the word. Often times that is not how it is used in the Bible. There is another way to find out what a word means, and that is by its usage. How is the word used in Scripture? In exegesis, usage always takes precedent over etymology. The reason for this is because word meanings change. So what we want to find is usage. The way to find out usage is to get a Greek concordance and look up how the word is used in the Bible. As you find its usage, you can determine its meaning. The work is well worth it.

This meaning of the Greek word aischuno is unmistakable at several important places in the Bible.

Romans 5:1-5 (NASB) Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

The word "disappoint" is translated "ashamed" in the KJV; it is the Greek word kataischuno, a strengthened form of aischuno. Thayer's Greek\English Lexicon translates this: "does not disappoint." Phillips correctly paraphrases: "a steady hope that will never disappoint us." Kittle, in his theological dictionary of New Testament words, says, "Extra-biblically the word 'ashamed' was often used for disillusionment."

Romans 9:33 (NASB) just as it is written, "BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED."

The word "disappointed" is the Greek word kataischuno which the KJV and the NIV translate as "shame."

Again, look at how the KJV and NIV translate kataischuno:

Romans 10:11 (NKJV) For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."
Romans 10:11 (NIV) As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."

The NASB translates this correctly. No one who believes in God will be disappointed.

Romans 10:11 (NASB) For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED."

The idea is: "No one who trusts in God will ever be disappointed."

Romans 1:16 (NASB) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Here even the NASB gets it wrong. The word for "ashamed" here is epaischunomai. Paul is saying that he has never been disappointed in the gospel. Paul wrote this to the Romans who took pride in their power. The Roman legions had conquered the civilized world. The gospel possesses a power that does not disappoint the Christian.

2 Corinthians 7:13-14 (NASB) For this reason we have been comforted. And besides our comfort, we rejoiced even much more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14 For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I was not put to shame; but as we spoke all things to you in truth, so also our boasting before Titus proved to be the truth.

The word here for "put to shame" is kataaischuno and would be better translated "disappointed." He is saying, "Titus found you to be just what we told him and I am not disappointed at all."

2 Timothy 1:12 (NASB) For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

The word "ashamed" here should be "disappointed," also. Paul wasn't disappointed because he knew that God was going to deliver him through all his suffering. This is a banking metaphor. He is saying, "God has the power to keep that which I have deposited with him and I am not disappointed at my suffering."

Mark 8:38 (NASB) "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."

Jesus' disciples were not going to reign in a physical kingdom with their Messiah. They were going to suffer and maybe even die just like their Messiah. They were called to take the gospel even to the pagan worshipers of Pan. The life of a disciple is not one of health/wealth; it is a life of self denial, sacrifice and suffering. If you are disappointed in this Christ, He will be disappointed in you, because this is what He has called you to.

Believers, if you choose this path laid out in Mark 8:34-38, I am telling you, you are making a good choice. You are making God's way the choice of life. But make no mistake; you are going to feel the pull to go back to self. Day by day, moment by moment, you are going to be faced with choices. The natural tendency is that I want to gratify myself. I want to do what is right for me. And God's call is to die to those desires and follow Him. I know it is a tough challenge to go from the love of self to the love of God.

If our response to this challenge is to say, "I am going to double my effort; I am really going to work; I am going to be committed to dying to self and following God; I am just going to write myself a note right here that I am going to do it"-- we will fail by the time we get to the parking lot. It is too hard. It is not in ourselves to live for God. This passage should bring us to a more desperate dependence on God: God, I can't do life unless You do a work in my heart, in my inner being.

Jonathan Edwards is recognized by many as the greatest theologian and perhaps the greatest intellect in North American history. At age 17 he penned 21 resolutions by which he would live his life. By the time he died, that list had grown to 70. I would like to tell you what was at the top and stayed at the top of his list of resolutions. It was: "Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these resolutions"

We can't pull this off without God's help. I pray this passage of Scripture would bring us to a greater and more desperate dependence on God. And then, as we respond to His work, let us make the moment by moment decision to surrender to Him.

Jesus' words are to you this morning, "Follow Me!" Being like the Rabbi is the major focus of the life of talmidim. They listen and question, they respond when questioned, they follow without knowing where the rabbi is taking them knowing that the rabbi has good reason for bringing them to the right place for his teaching to make the most sense.

If we are going to be disciples, we must be focused on the Rabbi­ Jesus Christ. We must be with him in His Word, we must follow Him even if we are not sure of where He is taking us, we must live by His teaching (which means we must know those teachings well), and we must imitate Him whenever we can. In other words everything becomes secondary in life to being like Him.

David Flusser, who was a Professor of Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem said: "Christians call themselves talmidim of the Rabbi. Any Christian who calls himself or herself talmid of the Rabbi and doesn't read all four gospels at least once a month is a liar." He is saying you couldn't possibly know Jesus well enough to be like Him if you aren't reading the gospels at least once a month.

A disciple is someone who more than anything else in the world wants to be just like Jesus. Are you His disciple?

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