Self-Denial Precedes Glory
Olympians sacrifice almost everything else to concentrate on their sports. They know self-denial precedes glory. They trade thousands of hours for the hope of a few minutes of glory on the medals platform.
Jesus’ cross preceded His crown. What did it mean for Jesus to be the Messiah? How do you identify with Him? He asked His disciples, “Who do people say I am?” (Mark 8:27, NIV). All guesses were wrong. He then asked, “Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29, NIV). Peter, the fastest mouth in the group, replied, “You are the Messiah.” (Mark 8:29, NIV).
Who you say Jesus is matters a lot. Long-time church attenders can easily substitute knowing the facts about Christianity for knowing Jesus. Many are inoculated with a mild case of Christianity. But they never come down with the real thing. Their “faith” in Jesus lacks commitment that changes their character and conduct.
Only after Peter’s confession did Jesus describe the road of suffering He’d travel because He was the Messiah. Peter attempted to set Jesus straight. He insisted suffering wasn’t fitting for the Messiah. In an eyeblink he became Satan’s spokesman. Jesus refused the easier road. He submitted to God’s plan that the cross must precede the crown.
Suffering wasn’t only Jesus’ destiny. It’s also the destiny of His followers. Following Jesus means dying to your own selfish desires. Note in Mark 8:35 that whoever tries to save his life will lose it. Your values and priorities must align with Jesus. How you spend your time and money reveal whether you’re denying yourself or pursuing some earthly goal.
By grasping selfishly to life, you forfeit the abundant life Jesus gives in its place. Abundant life includes suffering. Following Jesus is the greatest value of the ages (Mark 8:36-37). All the world’s treasures can’t purchase freedom for even one soul.
There’s no crown without a cross (Mark 8:38). You’re saving your life when you’re ashamed of Jesus’ words. Your loyalty or disloyalty to Jesus now determines your destiny. That isn’t salvation by works. It’s salvation through a vital faith that works as contrasted with a head-knowledge “faith” that doesn’t. For you as for Jesus, the cross precedes the crown.
Jesus’ glory reveals your destiny. Mark 9:2–13 describes the transfiguration. To transfigure is to change from one form into another. The same word is used in Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18 to describe your transformation into the likeness of Christ.
Jesus’ glory at the transfiguration is a preview of every Christian’s destiny. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV). The result is described in 1 John 3:2, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
There’s no crown without a cross or glory without suffering. It costs something to be Jesus’ disciple. It costs everything not to be. #freechristiandiscipleshipresources #freeevangelismresources #freechristianleadershipresources
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