Jesus welcomed the people, taught them about the Kingdom of God and healed those in need. Luke 9:11
The whole course is exceptional very relevant to me. I have gone away with a lot to think about. I have learnt that I don't have just to cope and be so independent. God is good & loves me, even me!.... Read More...

Seeds of the Kingdom


by John Sainsbury

8 September 2022

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If anyone would come after me, he/she must deny him/herself and take up his/her cross and follow me.
Mark 8:34, NIV

When you hear the word must, I wonder how it makes you feel. ‘You must’ can sound intimidating: someone forcing us to do something we really don’t want to. But ‘you must’ can also be the encouragement of one who loves us very much and is inspiring us to do something essential to our well-being.

In Mark 8:31-34, we read Jesus talking about three things that must happen if His plans to redeem the world are to be fulfilled. Two are referring to Himself and one relates to those who choose to follow Him. The latter is surely not intimidating, because that would be out of character with who Jesus is. Rather, such an exhortation from the absolutely loving, self-sacrificial, beautiful Jesus is the encouragement to do something which is absolutely necessary for our ultimate benefit.

After Peter’s inspired assertion that Jesus was indeed the ‘Christ’, the anointed One, the One who had come to inaugurate God’s Kingdom on earth (Mark 8:27-29), Jesus began to teach His disciples just what this inauguration would mean both for Him and those who would enter into it.

As Jesus began to teach them (Mark 8:31), He asserted that the Son of Man (His way of referring to Himself) must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and after three days rise again. That word ‘must’ tells us that there was no plan B, no easy option, no way that the rejection and suffering that lay before Him could be avoided, if Jesus was to be the Saviour of humanity. It must happen this way.

Jesus knew that and willingly accepted this necessity; such was His desire to obey His Father and to save us. These were the things that Jesus knew He must accept, and He did so.

But there was also a ‘must’ that any who would become His disciples would also have to accept. They ‘must’ deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Him (Jesus) (Mark 8:34).

Jesus didn’t say they should, they ought, or they might like to. No, this was a categorical assertion that, for any who would choose to become His disciples, there was no other alternative. They could no longer remain the Lord of their own lives, but they must allow Jesus to be Lord of their lives. They ‘must’ take this action, in the same way that Jesus knew He ‘must’ suffer and die, if the way to salvation were to become available.

Maybe we hear that and find it scary. I think He knows this. So, having made this assertion, Jesus went on to explain that, although it might sound like an incredibly tall order, it was, in fact, the most liberating, life-affirming thing anyone could do. “For whoever wants to save his/her life will lose it, but whoever loses his/her life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is for a person to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his/her soul”? (Mark 8:35-36).

So, what does it mean to deny ourselves? What does it mean for us to pick up our cross and follow Him? It means that our lives are only truly free when we put Jesus first. It means that living His way is the true way to be His disciples. And it means, for those who do, they have found the richest life available (John 10:10).

John Sainsbury and his wife Sue are part of the leadership team at Ellel Grange. John has served as a church leader for many years, most recently as Lead Pastor of the Garstang Free Methodist Church. He has a passion for seeing many brought into the fulness of life that following Christ brings.


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