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Jesus’ Brilliant, Ten Word, Gospel Presentation

October 27, 2011

(Excerpt from Carl’s book: Amazing Promise – How Sweet The Sound.  Read it free online at: Authonomy.com.)

Let’s look at another time when Jesus presented the Gospel.  In this account, Jesus was not asked by someone how to be saved.  Rather, Jesus explained the Gospel by indicating how He would die and by explaining that total surrender is required.

            When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Mark 8:34-38 (NKJV)

Jesus starts by saying “Whoever desires to come after Me.”  “To come after” Jesus means to pursue Him, to seek Him, and to find Him – to pursue Life and to receive Life, including Eternal Life.  This is what He is talking about based on what He says soon afterwards about saving and losing one’s life, about saving and losing one’s soul, and about what will happen on the last Day.  Jesus is presenting the Gospel.

Jesus said that in order to truly live, including receiving Eternal Life, you must first deny yourself.  Does that mean we should refrain from giving ourselves what we want or even need? That doesn’t sound like Good News to me!  Or, what exactly about ourselves are we to deny?  Think about it this way: If you were to deny Christ, what would that mean?  To deny Christ is to believe, to admit, that He can’t save you.  So, to deny yourself is to believe and admit that you can’t save yourself, that only God can do that.  This is a huge step for everyone because it involves denouncing any and all faith you have in yourself that you can save yourself, that you are able to get and give yourself what your heart really needs: God’s unfailing love.  To deny yourself is to trust in and place all of your faith in Jesus alone to save you.  It’s relying on Jesus alone to give you everything your heart truly needs both now and forevermore.

Then Jesus says that to have Eternal Life you must take up your cross.  Luke’s Gospel account adds that you must take up your cross daily.  On the surface this sounds like being a Christian is going to be a huge, heavy burden that we’re going to have to always carry around with us.  It’s sounds like we’ll always be carrying around the burden that we’re on our way to suffer for being a Christian, that being a Christian is going to make our lives difficult, if not miserable.  But this can’t possibly be what Jesus means because there is no greater joy to be found in this life, and in the next, than in living with and for Jesus.  Another reason this can’t be what Jesus meant is because He also said that His burden is light.  I would describe a cross in many ways but none of them would be “light!”

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Some people think that taking up one’s cross daily means that they will be persecuted daily for following Jesus.  That’s simply not the case for many followers of Jesus.  If that’s what this means, then unless we are being persecuted daily, we are not being obedient to Christ.  God’s Word makes it clear that those who live all out for Him will be persecuted.  But nowhere is it stated that Christians will be persecuted daily.

Some people interpret taking up one’s cross daily to mean that they must endeavor to die to themselves daily, that they must put their old self to death every day.  The truth is that we don’t have any true, lasting power apart from God’s grace to overcome our old sinful ways.  If we did, we wouldn’t need Jesus in the first place!  It’s not until we are in Christ and have Christ living in us that we will have the Power to overcome our old sinful nature.  By the way, this supports the truth that Jesus accepts us unconditionally, just as we are, when we turn to Him to save us.  And He NEVER stops accepting us just as we are!  And with so much of His Grace, His Spirit, inside of us, we can’t help but become more and more like Him.

For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Romans 8:13-14 (NKJV)

I contend that the only cross you and I are guaranteed is the one Jesus died on!  He died on my cross, and He died on your cross.  He paid for our sins so we don’t have to.  He experienced hell, all of God’s wrath, so we don’t have to.  Your cross is the cross on which Jesus died – if you believe it, if you’re willing to accept His sacrifice for all of your sins.  God fully accepted it, so why shouldn’t you?  Truly, out of everyone at the crucifixion scene, Barabbas had the best perspective of the cross.  That’s because it was on his cross that Jesus died.[1]  Jesus said:

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

This means that your cross, the one Jesus died on in your place, is the greatest love that you can ever be shown.  So, to take up your cross daily means to let go of whatever you’re holding onto that keeps you from fully grasping, fully comprehending, fully experiencing, fully taking hold of, fully embracing His love for you that put Him on your cross.  In order to let go of what you’re holding onto that’s not Jesus, you’re going to have to surrender everything that’s taking His place in your heart.  If you haven’t surrendered every idol, every false love that temporarily comforts your heart, how can you say you’ve placed all of your faith in Him?

Jesus is asking you to get out of your boat of assurance – whatever you’re holding onto that you think has a chance of saving you – and simply go to Him by faith.  If you’re holding onto idols, worldly things that temporarily comfort your heart that seem so very necessary in your life, maybe it’s because God doesn’t seem like He can be fully trusted in every area of your life.  But what part of “I’ll give up infinite riches in Heaven” and “I’ll let my Son be killed in your place” makes you think you can’t fully trust in the LORD, in the Amazing Promise of His unconditional love?  If the LORD has proven anything to us, it’s that He loves us forever and that He’s worthy of not just our trust, but our all.  Satan’s biggest lie of all time, and even before time began, is that God’s heart cannot be trusted.  The very foundation, the very essence, of the Gospel is The Promise that God’s heart can always be trusted. The fulfillment of that Promise is Jesus!

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

So, the next time you come upon the temptation you typically say “yes” to because you think you “need” it, instead of following through with that sin, whisper a prayer to God telling Him you want to fully trust Him to meet that need.  And ask Him to empower you to avoid that temptation.  God will honor that request.

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

You see, every temptation, every trial, every need, every desire, every longing of your heart is one more opportunity for you to answer the question “Can God’s heart be fully trusted?”  And this is the very question the Gospel asks of everyone.  The gift of His Son’s life in exchange for yours says His heart can be fully trusted.  When you’re tempted, how you respond is your answer to God.  Temptation is not a test of self-control; it’s a test of whether God is in control.  It’s a test of your faith in God.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

1 John 4:9

The love that we are to grasp is God’s love for us, the Holy Spirit.  But that’s simply not possible if you’re still tightly clinching something else that you think will give you that which only God’s True Love can give you.  Grasping His Love requires that you first let go of what you’ve been holding onto to get love.  And so, for your heart to be filled with the Holy Spirit, God’s love, requires total surrender of every ungodly thing that you’re using to get false love.  You must let go of your false “lovers.”  When we take up our cross, we are claiming and holding onto the love and the life that Jesus laid down for us.  And when we grasp the love He has for us, it empowers us to let go of all else.

Then Jesus says “Follow Me.”  Many believers have a difficult time with this command.  If you deny yourself and take up your cross daily, you will become empowered by His Spirit to follow Him.  If you’ve emptied your heart of what’s not of God and your heart has been filled with God’s love, God’s Grace, the Holy Spirit, then following Jesus is relatively easy.  You simply need to follow your heart, your new heart that He has given you.  Following Him is letting His love, His Holy Spirit, lead your life.  Nothing besides the Holy Spirit living in you has the power to overcome your sins (trying hard does not work), the power to overcome your fears (weapons will not work), and the power to guide you in following Jesus (using your eyes and mind will not work).

“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed.  In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.

Exodus 15:13


[1] Tommy King Sermon March 27, 1994, Tyler, TX.

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2 Comments
  1. Greetings my brother in Jesus name
    I’ve often looked for the spiritual revelation beyond the obvious in this parable and I thInk you have done just that. I like your insight.. Quote: “foolish virgins were seeking to meet the bridegroom on their terms instead of on his terms.”
    That’s powerful.
    You are a blessing and thanks for sharing this today
    Paul

    • Greetings Paul! YVW! The meaning of this parable eluded me too for many years until after the Holy Spirit anointed me with His love and joy two years ago.

      Check out this excerpt from my book. I think you will appreciate it:
      The Holy Place is a place of transition, a place of being transformed into the image of Christ. All of the things that are not of God, the sinful things you’ve been using to help yourself feel loved and worthwhile, are idols, false loves. As the Bride-to-be of Christ, in preparation for your Wedding Day, you must complete the sanctification process by surrendering all of your heart’s false lovers. You must abandon your adulterous ways. And now, by the Grace of God, you have the Power to do it! You’re not ready for Marriage until Jesus is your only lover. No one would ever expect a person to marry someone who is unwilling to give all of their heart to that person, someone who wants to keep one or more lovers “on the side” for themselves. So how can we possibly expect Jesus to marry anyone like that?

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