Tyler David speaks on Mark 8:31-38
Series: The Gospel of Mark
In life, it’s clear every reward requires suffering. Any reward you want will require that you suffer the loss of something. Usually, the greater the reward, the greater the suffering we will have to go through to get it.
We’ve all experienced this when trying to get in shape. You have the reward of being healthy or just looking fine, whatever it is you would like to be. But you have to suffer the loss of great things, like donuts and chicken fried steak.
No suffering feels like it’s worth it until you begin to taste and attain that reward. You can see this when you’re working out. It doesn’t seem worth it in the moment. Then you begin to see the results.
If you want a romantic relationship, you have to suffer the loss of money, time and other relationships. If you want the reward of starting a new business or climbing the corporate ladder, you have to suffer the loss of short workdays and vacation times.
You have to suffer in order to get the reward.
Salvation is no different.
There Will Be Suffering
There must be suffering in order to have the reward of knowing God forever, of being in love with Him as His son or daughter and having joy for eternity.
Jesus has to suffer and we have to suffer.
• He will suffer the cross in order to secure and guarantee the reward.
• His people will suffer to be prepared for the reward.
Those who follow Jesus will share in His sufferings so we can enjoy the reward forever, which He already guaranteed for us.
Though Jesus talks mainly of suffering, He’s primarily concerned with the reward. Because the reward is greater than all the things we’re going to suffer through.
Having God forever will far outweigh anything we have to lose.
And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Mark 8:31-33 (ESV)
Up to this point Jesus had been teaching His disciples about the kingdom, the gospel and demonstrating His power through healing people. But He had yet to tell them about the cross. This was the first time He told them about His suffering; His coming to be rejected, murdered and to rise again.
He began to reveal to them His purpose, which was not to be a royal ruler.
His purpose was to be a suffering servant.
He was not coming to lead His people into strength, prosperity and power. He wouldn’t be received, but rather rejected by everyone, then murdered. He would be an object of scorn and ridicule.
That’s the kind of Christ He was coming to be.
And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. Mark 8:31 (ESV, emphasis added)
His suffering was all part of God’s plan for salvation. These things had to happen.
This was not what the disciples wanted to hear. They had just confessed to Him that He was the Messiah. They were imagining all the prophecies they knew that addressed what would happen when He finally came. It meant universal rule and prosperity for the people of God. They were expecting Him to rule over all the earth.
Those things were true. But not yet.
Those prophecies were referring to the second coming of Christ. The disciples had forgotten about what He had to do first. They had forgotten about the prophecies that said He would come and rule, but first He would have to suffer, die and take on the wrath of God for the sins of His people.
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.... 10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt... Isaiah 53:5-7,10a (ESV)
God had made it clear that Christ would have to suffer first for the sins of His people. The only way any person can know God as Father and not as Judge was through Christ because of what He did on the cross.
Wanting the Reward Now
The disciples heard this and didn’t like it, because of what it meant for them. If their Messiah would have to suffer, then so would they. They had been more concerned with what it would be like when He reined. In the gospels they continued to ask Jesus who of them is the best, which would be His right hand man. They were more concerned about power and prestige.
And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Mark 8:32-33 (ESV)
Peter pulled Jesus aside and told Him that He might be wrong about this suffering stuff. He suggested He should ease up on it. He was the Christ; He shouldn’t have had to suffer.
Jesus looked at the disciples and rebuked Peter. He called him Satan. He told him he was partnering with Satan by tempting Jesus away from the will of God; claiming he was not concerned with Jesus, but rather with himself. His mind was not set on the things of God, but was set on the things of man.
Tempting Jesus away from the cross and suffering is contrary to the will of God.
Satan didn’t try to tempt Jesus with more suffering. Think about the wilderness when Satan was tempting Jesus. He tempted Him with more comfort, ease and glory in the now.
He does the same with us. What kills our spirituality and walk with Jesus the most is not more suffering; it’s comfort, ease, prestige and honor in the now. These things slowly kill our faith.
Satan didn’t want Jesus to die, because if He did, then our sins were taken care of. If we don’t have any more sin to be accused of, then he doesn’t have any more power in our lives. He didn’t want Jesus to die; he wanted Him to reign and rule in the now, because it was contrary to the will of God.
The Gospel Demands Your Life
Jesus and his gospel is not just a truth that we intellectually agree with. This Jesus demands everything. His gospel demands your life.
To know Christ is to follow Him.
If you trust and believe in His suffering for your sin, then you’re on a path of suffering as well.
34 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. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 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 (ESV)
Jesus rebuked His disciples. Then He gathered everyone around Him so He could tell them what following Him would actually look like.
If anyone will come after Him, they too will have to suffer and die. Notice He says anyone. Not just the spiritually mature, the disciplined or devout, but anyone.
You must deny yourself; lose your privileges, your status, your rights, your plans and dreams and desires. All of it.
Pursue Jesus, Not Suffering
Beware of the idea that if you’re not suffering, then you’re not following Jesus. This is not true.
Followers of Jesus pursue Jesus, not suffering. But they know that following Jesus will bring suffering. It’s important to make the distinction.
He says take up your cross and follow Him. He doesn’t say get on your cross and die right now. Rather, take up your cross knowing that where you’re going is your own death.
When criminals are crucified they would have to carry their cross to where they would be crucified. Where they would die. Jesus is saying to do the same thing.
You don’t know when or how it’s going to happen. But the time will come when you will suffer for Jesus and lose your life.
Losing In Order To Gain
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. Mark 8:35 (ESV)
This is a bizarre statement. Jesus thinks if you lose your life (all that you are and all that you think you should be) and listen to Him tell you who you are and how you should live your life that there is life in that.
We think to have life and joy, means to be true to ourselves no matter what. It’s the mantra of our society. This is opposite to what Jesus says. He says don’t be true to yourself, be true to Him no matter what. That’s where life and joy are found.
This is scary to us. It means us letting go of who we are or want to be. It’s scary to start following Jesus, because it means we don’t know who we will become. But we don’t need to know who we will be, because Jesus will tells us. He will tell us what we will look like.
We have to trust that He will take care of us.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:7-8 (ESV)
Right before this, Paul talked about all the righteous works he had done. How he had sacrificed years of his life to be the most righteous man he could be. But he had to lose all of that, all that he had worked so hard for, in order to have Jesus.
He had to lose everything in order to get Jesus. He said it was worth it.
The reward was worth the suffering.
We may have to lose our life to gain Jesus. But the reward is greater than the loss.
Jesus doesn’t end His teaching with this truth. Rather He ends with a warning.
He warns of His imminent return.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 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 8:36-38 (ESV)
For those who would forsake Jesus now. Those who would see the way of the cross and turn away not wanting to suffer now. Those people will not escape suffering.
You can gain the whole world, its entire honor, privileges, status and power and it will mean nothing when He comes back.
He’s coming back to honor those who suffered with Him and to shame those who didn’t.
He won’t be coming back a suffering servant. He will be coming back a conquering King.
The distinguishing characteristic of those who follow Jesus is not that they prayed a prayer once when they were a child. It’s that they prayed a prayer of faith and they’re marked by continually laying down their lives, taking up their cross and following Jesus.
This should cause all of us to assess our lives. You shouldn’t just hear this and think you’re good. We must look at our lives and ask if we’re taking up our crosses. We need to ask ourselves if we’ve lost anything for Jesus, if we deny ourselves anything for His sake.
Most us don’t see a lot of suffering for Jesus. I don’t mean suffering in general, like illness and death. Believers and nonbelievers go through those things. I’m talking about suffering the loss of things because you follow Jesus. Things that you lose that you wouldn’t have to otherwise.
There are a variety of reasons for this. One is that we live in a tolerant and wealthy society.
However, another big reason is because of our disobedience for His command for mission.
Attempting to reach people who are far from God with the gospel will cost us. Mission, like nothing else, demands you to change your life and give up things you otherwise wouldn’t have to.
Mission requires you to suffer for the gospel.
Think about Jesus and Paul. Most, if not all, of their suffering for the gospel sake, came because of mission. Jesus came seeking to save that which is loss and He died. Paul had an ambition to preach the gospel in places where Jesus’ name had not been known. And he died.
Their suffering came to them because of their commitment to the mission.
We are going to suffer for the sake of Christ, as we love people who don’t love us back. As we share the gospel with people who think we’re moronic for believing what we do. As we do this, we will begin to taste a little bit of the suffering that Jesus endured.
This will go two ways. The discouraged route, where we think we could have done better or more. Or we want to make war on society for shaming us.
Both are wrong.
When we feel rejection, the proper response is to be encouraged. Because that means that we’re actually suffering with Jesus. We’re getting to know a little bit of what He went through for us.
Our lives will be marked by suffering. Jesus suffered for us so that we can share in His sufferings, but also so we can share in His reward.
We have to think about the reward in order to endure through the suffering.
10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:10-11 (ESV)
Peter is writing to a scattered church because of their association with Jesus. They’re losing everything for Him. Peter tells them to hold on, to remember it will only be for a little while. It’s only a matter of time before Jesus comes and will strengthen, confirm and establish them. He’s telling them it will all be worth it.
Jesus is worth the suffering.
Are you following Jesus and taking up your cross after Him?
We must assess our lives and ask this question, because the stakes are too high, the reward too satisfying and the judgment is too terrifying to just breeze past it.
We should be so enamored with the reward that we are willing to suffer the loss of whatever we have to. It will be worth it to hear Jesus say, “Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master.”