Stories in The Story/Dying to Live
Message Summary
This sermon looks at Jesus’ words to the disciples after Peter realizes Jesus is The Christ. Jesus decides it’s time for them to hear that He is going to Jerusalem to die a violent death. They have a very hard time comprehending how this could be in God’s plan for the Messiah. Jesus follows up the announcement of His death with another difficult statement. He tells the disciples “if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me!” Five extremely important principles of the Christian faith are found in this one verse. Jesus then let’s the disciples know what’s at stake when He says in Mark 8:35-36; “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”

Community Group Discussion Guide
1. While there’s nothing wrong with wearing a cross, how often do we adorn ourselves with the cross without really thinking about all it stands for?

2. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me...” This indicates two very important concepts in Christianity. They are based on the words, anyone and would. What do these two words imply? Use the following verses to help inform your discussion.
John 3:16  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:17  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
John 3:18  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.

3. Why is it so important to deny our self? What can happen if we don’t, and what are the possibilities when we do?
Eph 4:22  You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
Eph 4:23  to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
Eph 4:24  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

4. Jesus said to take up our cross and follow Him! Pastor Larry stated we need to take up the cross in order to remember Jesus’ sacrifice, to realize what that sacrifice did for us, and to receive all the things that His sacrifice offers us. Discuss the ramifications of these three benefits of taking up the cross and following Jesus.
Gal 2:20  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Gal 5:24  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.



Full Sermon Notes

"My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, Amazing grace"

Praise God! And today we're going to see how our chains can be gone! Today we're going to see how we can be set free, and it has everything to do with our Savior, His mercy, grace and love poured out on the Cross! Let's pray and ask for God's anointing, His blessing, His presence, His wisdom, His strength, and His peace!
"Father God I trust You this morning to speak to our hearts. We desire to hear from You! We want to know Your truth because Your truth can set us free from our chains! I cry out for the anointing of Your Holy Spirit, and know you hear my prayers because I pray in the Spirit which our Lord prayed when He said, 'Not my will but Yours be done!' Thank you Jesus, Amen!!"

I want to take just a minute this morning to tell you the premise and purpose of this series. There were many stories of events that preceded the big story of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. There are very important lessons to be learned from these stories and these lessons help us understand what Jesus did on the Cross and why! Jesus prepared the disciples for the coming events of what has become known as the passion of the Christ. If it was important for the disciples to hear these stories and to learn the resulting principles Jesus taught, then I believe it's equally important for us to hear the stories and learn the principles. So now you know why I started this series about four weeks before Easter!

Last week we heard the story of how Jesus fed four thousand men, and probably several thousand women and children with 7 loaves of bread and a few fish. This was the second time Jesus had fed the multitudes with just a few loaves of bread and fish.
The disciples had witnessed the first feeding of around 10,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and two fish from a little boy's lunch. This time they had available more bread and more fish, but it was as if they had completely forgotten the first miracle! They questioned how in the world they could feed so many people with such a small amount of food! Surprising! But we do the same thing. God works in some of our most difficult circumstances, but as soon as we face a new trouble, we forget God's past provision and fret about the new challenge!

We also talked about the corrupt religious leaders of Jesus' day. Some of them were terminally blind and refused to believe. They wanted a sign, but Jesus knew their hearts and even if He showed them an amazing miracle, they wouldn't believe, because they had chosen not to believe. The difference between the disciples and the religious leaders was a heart thing! The religious leaders had closed hearts while the disciples had open hearts. The disciples wanted to see the things of God and God wanted to show them. Remember last week we said Saint Peter had an eye opening experience and as a result, Jesus was about to reveal to him and the other disciples a life altering truth! Remember, I asked you to ponder the following questions before today. Where am I spiritually? Am I ready to receive this life altering information? Am I suffering from some form of spiritual blindness? Am I willing to let Jesus open my blinded eyes? Do I even realize my need for spiritual healing? Take your Bibles and turn to our text, Mark 8:27ff.

Mark 8:27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ. ’”

So Peter's spiritual eyes are beginning to see! And remember, Jesus said in Matthew's gospel that man had not revealed this to Peter, but The Heavenly Father!
Let's read on...

Mark 8:30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

Jesus knew it wasn't yet time for Him to be crucified, so this information was not to be shared at this time. However, because of Peter's words, Jesus knew it was now time to tell them more. Elton Trueblood put it this way...

"In consideration of their weakness, Jesus maintained a certain reserve respecting His sufferings, till their faith in Him as the Christ should have become sufficiently rooted to stand the strain of the storm soon to be raised by a most unexpected, unwelcome, and incomprehensible announcement.

Only after hearing Peter's confession was He satisfied that the strength necessary for enduring the trial had been attained."
Elton Trueblood
Listen to what Jesus now tells the disciples...

Mark 8:31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.
32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

Why did Peter rebuke Jesus? Well, first of all, Peter was a tell it like it is, say the first thing that came to his mind. But here's the main reason for Peter's response. What Jesus said was not at all what the disciples expected! They were looking for an earthly king! So were the religious leaders. This the disciples and religious leaders had in common! Listen to a prophecy in The Book of Daniel 7:13, 14, 22.

Daniel 7:13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.
14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

And then in verse 22 it says...

Daniel 7:22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.

The disciples truly expected this to happen during their lifetime and that they would be joint rulers with Jesus. "Judgement in favor of the saints of the Most High!"
This prophecy is yet to be fulfilled and will come some day. However, for this prophecy to come to pass, others had to come first! What prophecy would that be? The prophecy of the suffering servant. Jesus was that servant. Listen to Isaiah's words in Isaiah 53:3-6. It's powerful!

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their
faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Jesus knew the religious leaders of His day as well as the disciples had overlooked this prophecy in favor of the more exciting later prophecy. But Jesus knew if He refused to carry the cross, suffer on that cross and die on that cross, the epic spiritual battle with Satan would not be won! This explains the words of Jesus to Peter.

Mark 8:33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

Jesus was not calling Peter Satan. He knew Satan was trying to use Peter to tempt Jesus to avoid the cross. And we know that Jesus would later pray in the garden and ask His Father if there was any other way to bring salvation to humanity other than the horrible suffering of the cross, let it be!

But there was no other way and Jesus would die so we could live! Jesus was letting Satan know He would not be swayed from His mission to provide a way for humanity to be saved from eternal death. Now, the disciples are about to get the next installment of spiritual truth and I promise you it's not going to be what they expected either. And here's why I ended last week the way I did. We have to be ready spiritually to have our eyes opened to this life altering truth. What Jesus is about to tell the disciples and us will explain the title of today's message…"Dying to Live!" Are you ready? The next verse contains five amazing principles in one verse! One sentence! Ready? Here we go...

Mark 8:34 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.

Principle One
"If anyone"

Mark 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone…"

God has chosen to love everyone and Jesus had come to set the record straight. The Hebrew people were not the only ones God loved or the only ones God had chosen. Jesus was going to die on the cross for anyone who would believe and He wanted to make sure the disciples understood this! If anyone were willing to take up the cross and follow Him, they would be adopted into God's family! Why?

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

And then listen to what Paul said in Romans...

Romans 10:4 Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Romans 10:11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile —the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,
13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Principle Two
"If anyone would...

Mark 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me…"

Folks, God didn't arbitrarily choose some to be saved and some to be lost forever. He has very plainly given humankind a choice. That is evident from the first book of the Bible Genesis all the way to the last book of the New Testament, Revelation.

Psalm 86:5 You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.

Deuteronomy 30:19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live
20 and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

But now comes the hard to swallow part! The part we don't like, because whether or not we like to admit it or not, we are all a bit selfish and Jesus addressed this in the third principle...

Principle Three
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself…"

Mark 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself...

Now you may think denying yourself in a bad thing. But let me ask you this. How much evil could be prevented in this world if  people would deny their temper, their lust, their pride, their greed, their hate, their bitterness?

How many marriages saved? How many children spared abuse or neglect? How many suicides prevented? How many senseless killings stopped? How many women and children freed from human trafficking? You say, but I'm not one of those people! Maybe not right now, but if you don't learn to deny yourself, you just might become a monster! We all start out as innocent children. Oh we all have a natural bent towards sin because we're born into a fallen world, but we're not monsters. We become that when we don't learn to deny self! Ok, I'm going to read a passage I read not too long ago in a message. Listen...

Ephesians 4:22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

You might say, "I want to put off my old self and the deceitful desires! I want to be made new in the attitude of my mind! I want to put on the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness! But I don't know how to do that! Is that even possible?
Yes it is, and it's found in the next two principles of our one verse.

Principle Four
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross…"

Mark 8:34 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 ...

Can't we put the cross behind us? Can't we just acknowledge that Christ died on the cross and let that be that? Do we each have a cross to bear? Crosses were for criminals! Why do I need to take up the cross?

Take up the Cross
to Remember His Sacrifice!

Matthew 26:67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him
68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?”

Matthew 27:30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.
31After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

Take up the Cross
to Realize what His Sacrifice did for you!

Hebrew 10:15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”
17 Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”
18 And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,
20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,
21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Take up the Cross
to Receive What His Sacrifice Gives You

I Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Power for what?

Power over Temptation
Power over Discouragement
Power over Selfishness
Power over Anger
Power over Bitterness
Power To Forgive
Power To Overcome Circumstances
Power To Succeed God's Way
Power To Love

Okay! I want all of this! I want it so bad! How do I get it? I'm dying to live! I'll take up the cross, but I'm not sure I'll know exactly what to do after that. Well, I won't leave you hanging this week like I did last week. It's the final principle found in this one verse...

Principle Five
Mark 8:34 "...If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and Follow Me!"

We take up our cross for all the reasons we've talked about and then we follow Jesus! He will show you how to live, how to truly live. And you might wonder if this is a good decision. Jesus put it this way to His disciples in the next two verses...
Mark 8:35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.
36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
Here's the question...

Are you dying to live?

If you are, take up your cross and follow Jesus! You'll begin dying to the old ways and will begin living a new life in Christ! And what about the things you’ll give up? And what if it cost your life to follow Jesus? Missionary Jim Elliot, who did give his life to follow Jesus and share Christ's love had written this in his journal...
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot loose!"
Let's pray!