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.” Mark 8:34-38
Jesus says a number of things in the Bible that can be very challenging to us personally. When He gives us a parable, we often find ourselves identifying with the wrong person. We are challenged to examine ourselves. When He speaks of the commandments, we often find ourselves falling short. We are challenged to admit our own sin. Then here in the book of Mark, Jesus talks about the cost of discipleship. We are forced to weigh the cost of being His followers. As I read it, the sum total of Matthew 10:32-42, Mark 8:34-38, and Luke 14:25-35 is this, if your curiosity does not give way to commitment, you are no disciple of Jesus Christ.
Why is that so jarring to us? Do we have commitment issues? Maybe, we do. The tendency for most of us is a desire to be a spectator in the Kingdom of God. It is far easier to belong to something when it requires absolutely nothing from us. We are content to hang back, sit in our seat in the bleachers, and cheer on the home team. When things are going well, we cheer. When things are going poorly, we boo. There are no expectations of fans to go out and perform. Isn’t that good enough?
No it is not good enough. The Scripture verse tells us there was a crowd following Jesus. They were His supporters, His fans. They followed Jesus, listened to His teaching, and they cheered Him on as he traveled. But Jesus calls to them and tells them, their passive support isn’t enough. If you want to follow me, you must be willing to sacrifice, to give, to hurt, to suffer. And since then, nothing has changed. The call remains.
The challenge is this, Jesus doesn’t want fans. Jesus wants us on the team. You never see players put on their pads, shoes, jersey, then climb into the stands and order a hotdog. We are players, not spectators. We need to get out of the bleachers and take our spot on the field. We need to be about our Heavenly Father’s work here on earth. If you have been a spectator all your life, the time has come to put down the popcorn, get out of the stands, and take your spot.