Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Quick Passage Study

"If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to 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 will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." Mark 8:34-38

This is quite a statement by Jesus. At first glance the easiest way to study this is by asking the question, what does God require of me? But lately I have been encouraging you to do something else before you seek out personal application in the Word. I want you to find God first. Ask yourself, what does this passage reveal about the character of God? What do these verses tell me about Jesus?

So this morning, I thought I would take a highly application-oriented passage and try to set aside my part and first find God in it. So here are my observations (I am sure there even more, but we have to start somewhere...):
  • Jesus had an eternal perspective - if He only focussed on life in the here and now, there wouldn't be any worry about losing one's soul. But Jesus tells us that the price of earthly gain is one's soul
  • Jesus also wasn't a polished salesman - His description of the life of a follower was sobering at best. He didn't sugarcoat the truth, but He was an honest realist.
  • Jesus knew the heart of men - He understood sinful man's tendency for self-preservation and He warned His followers to asses their motives. Even His choice of the word "ashamed" shows us that He understood the inward struggle that believers would face
  • Jesus promises salvation to those who truly follow - again, with His eyes set on eternity, He honestly lays out the struggles on earth that pale in comparison to the eternal glory to come. He doesn't imply anything. He knows the future and shoots straight from the hip
  • Jesus sovereignly knew the end of the story - there is no hopefulness (as in, I really hope that I get to come back and get you!) in Jesus' statement, but rather there is sheer confidence, because He knows how everything is going to play out
Okay, so we have five simple observations on the character of Jesus - He had an eternal perspective, He was an honest realist, He understood the heart of man, He gave promises and He displayed His sovereignty in His confidence of the future.

Was there ever anything wishy-washy about Jesus? No, never. Was He ever unsure of Himself? Nope, never. Is He the same today as He was 2,000 years ago? Absolutely yes.

Now, moving forward with the confidence that Jesus' words are truth and life, we can boldly lay out the personal application, starting with the imitation of Jesus. Let me explain - without even dealing with His teaching yet we already can say that to be like Christ, we need to live with an eternal perspective, be honest and realistic with our words, consider the affects of our sinful heart on truth, share the promises of Jesus with others and rest with confidence in Jesus' description of the future. The only way we can put these things into practice in our lives is by knowing exactly what Jesus said and who He is, therefore we need to be in the Word even more! See how that works?

This post is getting long, so I will wrap it up by saying, after you study the passage for the character of Christ and you transfer His character into an example for how you are to live, then you are ready to examine the passage for personal application. With this particular passage, that process is pretty easy and I'm going to let you do that for yourself...feel free to share your findings in the comment section.

Remember, if you only seek the Word looking for yourself, then you'll miss the true beauty of the revelation of the Author Himself. Seek Him first, apply to yourself second...make sense?


  1. "make sense?" Yup, sure does. Thanks :)

  2. Hi, Danish...sorry about the pink background...glad you're still stopping by! We naturally put ourselves first that a little reminder here and there never hurts.

  3. Hiya Mrs. Wisen,
    I find that as I look more closely at my relationship with God I end up trying to be in control rather than letting go and trusting him to provide.

    As to the pink background. It's what's on the inside that counts. The outside is an extra bonus.

  4. I was really excited about this assignment but this endeavor turned out to be harder than I first anticipated. This type of an exercise has always been difficult for me. The thoughts just don't flow like I wish they would! I must smile that you call your observations “simple.” I would not have come up with them. You’ve been blessed with a gift.

    I have one, simple observation to share. These verses tell me that Jesus and His words are priceless treasure. Therefore, who He is and what He says is to be valued above all things. We are to be willing to sacrifice even life itself for Him, He’s worth it.

  5. Thanks for your observation, Kathy. I think that the more you know Jesus, the less chance you will have of being ashamed of Him - you can't help but treasure Him more. The key is finding the time to get to know Him. We often stop with the gospel but there is oh, so much more!

  6. A question for you...Are the ashamed in this passage believers or unbelievers? It seems like Jesus is talking about unbelievers.

  7. ...I will be the first to admit that I haven't always spoken up for Him like I should.

  8. By the way...I got really excited because I don't see a silent, quiet return of Christ in this passage in which He is seen only by believers. It seems as if Jesus is talking about those who will not submit themselves to the demands of discipleship that will be ashamed of Him when He returns. These are unbelievers that will see Him. Your thoughts?

  9. I think the ashamed prove their disbelief through their actions, but I also think that this is one of those self-tests. If we profess Christ yet find ourselves ashamed when asked to publicly profess, then we are simply professors and not possessors...does that make sense?

    I think this also could have something to do with endtimes - would we be ashamed to stand for Christ and bow to the anti-Christ? Jesus said in Matthew 24 that many will fall away and most people's love will grow cold. Is this the shame Jesus is referring to?

    And yes, His return is going to be quite the event! No secret there...

  10. Makes perfect sense. And it definitely is one of those self-examination passages. And I think it most certainly points to at least some of those who will depart from the faith when AC reveals himself. I would think they will be greatly ashamed when they see the Lord, having once professed Him as Lord, and then giving their allegiance and worship to AC.