Leviticus 19:1-34; Mark 8:27-38; Psalms 42:9-11; Proverbs 14:1-2
NT: “Then he began to teach them that it was necessary for the Son of Man to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke openly about this. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning around and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are not thinking about God’s concerns but human concerns.” Calling the crowd along with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me and the gospel will save it. For what does it benefit someone to gain the whole world and yet lose his life? What can anyone give in exchange for his life? 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 8:31-38 CSB)
When Jesus began to reveal that he was to be rejected and killed, especially after they had come to the revelation that He was the Messiah, they were confused and concerned. Peter, speaking for all the disciples, took Jesus aside and sharply expressed his disapproval for what Jesus was saying. Peter’s intentions were not evil, and were probably born out of his love for Jesus, but also concern for his own life as well. Loving Jesus doesn’t mean that you are His disciple. Disciples follow their master wherever they go. If you love Jesus, but disagree with His ways, you are not His disciple, but become a roadblock to Him instead. When you are more concerned with self-preservation and self desires, you put yourself in league with the enemy and opposed to God. Jesus called the crowd that was following Him and explained to the disciples and to the crowd the price that was required to truly follow Him and be His disciple. They had to 1) deny themselves, 2) identify with His suffering and death, and 3) obediently follow Him where ever He leads. Denying self isn’t the same as self-denial. Self-denial is a temporary laying down of something you enjoy in order to receive something you value. Anyone can practice self-denial. Denying self involves giving up your rights to do what you want and surrendering your life to do what Jesus wants. If you follow the path of self-preservation, that is the path that the enemy has for you, and it will ultimately lead to death. If instead, you surrender your life to Christ, daily die to your desires and ambitions, and follow Jesus completely, you will find life here and for eternity. It is a costly price that many are not willing to pay – but it is well worth it.