Mark: The Hard Decision
We live in a fallen world; a world at war. Sin, Satan, a rebellious humankind, and a holy, loving God who is saving. That puts all of us in a hard place and in need to make hard decisions. In this text from Mark, Jesus presses us for an answer.
Jesus stipulated that those who wish to follow him must be prepared to shift the center of gravity in their lives from a concern for self to reckless abandon to the will of God. The central thought in self-denial is a disowning of any claim that may be urged by the self, a sustained willingness to say 'No' to oneself in order to be able to say 'Yes' to God. This involves a radical denunciation of all self-idolatry and of every attempt to establish one's own life in accordance with the dictates of the self. This demand is reinforced and intensified by the horrifying image of a death march. Bearing the cross was not a Jewish metaphor, and Jesus' statement must have sounded repugnant to the crowd and the disciples alike. The saying evokes the picture of a condemned man going out to die who is forced to carry on his back the crossbeam upon which he is to be nailed at the place of execution. By the time Mark prepared his Gospel this had become cruel reality, both for Jesus and the Church. Jesus' words were a sober caution that the commitment for which he asked permitted no turning back, and if necessary, a willingness to submit to the cross in pursuance of the will of God. His followers must be prepared to die...Professor William Lane The Gospel of Mark
Sermon discussion questions for parents to use with their children:
What is the situation we are in that requires us to make a hard decision?
What is that decision?
How do I renounce myself?
What does that look like?
Why does Jesus make such hard demands on us?