July 3: The Cost of Discipleship (Mark 8:27-38)
Prepare for Sunday morning worship using the guide below.
This Sunday all youth and adult classes will meet together in the auditorium at 9:00am to hear a report back from William Halvorsen and Kathryn Forney who have been in East Asia for the past ten months.
 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”  And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”  And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”  And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.
 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.  And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would 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 can a man give in return for his soul?  For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (ESV)
One of the great ironies in scripture is that in losing, we find. This is clearly counterintuitive. Yet after revealing his coming suffering and death, Jesus calls his followers to deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow in the same path that he himself would take. While they did not know yet how he would die, it would have been clear to those who were attentive to his words. In our passage, Jesus not only gives instructions on being a disciple, but also defends it as being worthwhile in spite of the costs. Jesus calls us to follow him in his life of sacrifice, self-denial and even death, but he also provides hope for us that in losing this life, we will find a more glorious and greater life. Jim Elliot, the martyred missionary in the mid-twentieth century said, "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose." Consider your life as a follower of Jesus. In what ways does your life look like his? How have you faced opposition or challenge as you walk in his steps? Take time to pray and ask God to reveal the beauty of Christ and his cross to you so that in your admiration of Jesus, your life will begin to imitate his.
Review and Apply
1. What did the apostles miss in their confession of Jesus? What did Jesus introduce to their understanding of the Messiah?
2. Why does Jesus say that he must suffer many things and die?
3. Would you define your understanding of the faith as being "glory-centered" or "cross-centered" (think Martin Luther)? Explain.
4. What does it mean to deny yourself? Give examples from your life this week.
5. What does it mean to take up your cross daily? Give examples.
6. If your brother or sister has few examples of this, how would you encourage them forward in faith?
7. How often do you think of the value of your soul? Why not more?
8. Jesus warns those ashamed of him, but how do our lives look when we admire or honor him?