Focal Passage: Mark 8:34-9:1
On the third day of my third grade year of school, my teacher asked me to step out in the hall.
No, I hadn’t done anything wrong (at least not yet — it was the third day). Believe it or not, she wanted to see me walk.
This has an explainable end I promise, even one that didn’t find an educator behind bars.
My teacher knew my grandfather, knew him well enough even to know how he walked. And she thought she recognized that walk in me.
It seems some of the men in my family have this “waddle like” strut that is so distinct as to make it uniquely recognizable. My teacher knew who I was, and whose I was by the way I walked.
If only being a disciple of Christ were that easy. It isn’t.
In Mark’s Gospel account, taking up a cross, losing one’s life, and the like are the costs of discipleship. So when we ask what Jesus might say on the subject, we should start with the fact that it is costly.
Jesus made the cost of following Him clear. He spelled it out.
In this focal passage, we have Christ addressing His gang of nomadic fisherman, disgruntled nationalists, and would-be revolutionaries in words so clear and simple, even this somewhat motley crew would understand.
He also tells us everything we need to know about how to be a disciple. In verse 34, Jesus calls for the denial of self, the taking up of His cause, and the willingness to follow Him regardless.
I find it interesting that Jesus gave us the requirements for discipleship before He told us about the cost of discipleship, at least in this passage.
It is as if Jesus knew that the difficulty this choice to be Christ-like would bring for us (because, of course He did) and He led us to it gradually.
But I think nonetheless that as usual, in a clear and succinct way, Jesus told us all we need to know.
The whole time, He speaks as though doing it is implied, as if we might say, it was essential. I couldn’t and can’t help the way I walk; it is just the way I walk. Our following Christ ought to be just as natural.
Jesus says discipleship is difficult. Jesus says discipleship is costly. Most of all though, Jesus says discipleship is necessary.