As Christians we believe that Jesus is the Son of God. In John 14:6 Jesus states He is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Because we believe this to be true, we are called to live according to the teachings of Jesus. He taught some radical ideas – and these ideas were not only radical 2,000 years ago, but still seem hard to swallow today. Jesus did not try to please people with His words; instead He challenged their beliefs and asked them to believe in the God who sent Him. If we don’t allow Jesus’ words to change our lives, what is the purpose of reading them? Join us as we look at these radical concepts, see how they relate to our lives, and allow God, through His word, to change our hearts.
THIS WEEK: Deny Yourself And Follow Me
Recently I learned about the process of becoming a Rabbi, at least what it looked like 2,000 years ago. Little boys would go to school to learn scripture. By “learn” I mean memorize… the entire Old Testament. The young boys who were unable to do this task were sent back home to learn a trade – carpentry, fishing, tax collecting, etc. It is no surprise that few boys were able to accomplish this monstrous task. After the boys proved their worth in memorization skills, the Rabbi would ask the boys to follow them. The Rabbi would teach them everything they need to know to carry on the work started before them. The Rabbi believed that the boy that followed after him was truly capable of continuing their work.
What great power this has when Jesus asks us in Mark 8:34 to “deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Me.” He asks us to follow Him. Jesus starts this statement with, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” He asked us to follow Him because He believed we could follow after the work He already started. Jesus, the Almighty God, believes we can continue His work.
While this is a great honor, this can also be intimidating. Remember back in school when you were given a project? It was a group or an individual project that when all was said and done, you had to present it to the class. There was always one presentation that went extremely well. Maybe you worked really hard, and that great presentation belonged to you. But if it didn’t, you sank down in your seat when thinking about having to follow up that perfect presentation with the project you slapped together.
This feeling sinks back in when thinking about having to follow the work Jesus started. There is no way I will be able to achieve what He can. And this is true. As a human I cannot accomplish the same things the God of the Universe can. But when I am able to deny myself and allow Jesus to work through me, we CAN do His work. We CAN be His hands and feet. When we deny our earthly desires and follow Christ, we allow God to move through us.
If we believe God works through us when we are able to deny ourselves, then what does it look like to deny ourselves? What desires must we sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom? Talk to your students this week about the struggles between choosing Jesus over the worldly desires that tempt us in our daily lives.