This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, August 19, 2007, and was taken from Mark 8:27-38.
You can’t judge a book by its cover. It is increasingly true that you can’t judge a book by what it says. Often times people who profess to be a Christian don’t live like Christians. So, what’s involved in Christianity. What does it mean to be a true Christian, a genuine follower of Christ? We call it discipleship, and it’s costly. There is a price to pay. But many in our culture today expects so much from Christianity. “God owes me” they say. Is this a biblical view?
The text before us today marks the watershed moment in Mark’s gospel of the earthly ministry of Christ. To this point, Jesus has not disclosed the exact nature of his Messianic mission, his journey to the cross. This passage changes all that, as Jesus tells his disciples exactly what to expect in the near future. From this point on Jesus turns his attention away from the crowds and concentrates on his disciples. What do we learn from this passage about what it means to be a true Christian?
- A Great Confession: “Who do people say that I am?” Jesus is not taking a poll, he is bringing his disciples along. Then he asks the second question, “But who do you say that I am?” This is the key question. A Christian is one who has been awakened to who Jesus is and boldly professes, confesses and claims the reality of this revelation. This is fundamental, and you cannot be called a Christian apart from this.
- A Disturbing Proclamation: Jesus plainly announced to his disciples that the son of man must suffer, be rejected, crucified, and be raised. Apart from these four things there is no gospel, no good news, no Christianity. Peter’s response: It seemed impossible to Peter. He wondered how this could serve the purpose of God? A Christian is one who understands and commits himself to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- A Sober Revelation: You must deny self, take up the cross (“die”), and follow Jesus. That means you must denounce any right and claim to your own life. The language of Jesus’ words is a daily denial and death. A Christian is one who has chosen to deny self and die to self in order to follow Jesus.
These are costly things. If this is a reality in your life, it will cost you in your job, in your relationships, in your comforts. It will hurt. On the other side, there is nothing in this relationship that will cost you through loss and sacrifice that will even begin to compare with the great gains throughout eternity.