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Discipleship: The Law of the Cross Prevails

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What does it mean to follow Christ?

Good question.

In , Jesus answers that question.

But it’s a tough answer. Challenging. Demanding. Unapologetic. Unflinching.

It’s NOT user-friendly. Nor seeker sensitive.

It won’t make you famous. Rich. Or powerful.

In fact, following Christ demands a willingness to make any sacrifice Jesus asks. Even the ultimate sacrifice.

And how you respond to Jesus’ answer will determine your place in the kingdom of God–in the fellowship of believers.

Discipleship: The High Cost

Just moments after Christ rebuked Peter, he summoned the crowd to gather around him and he began to teach.

, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, take up your cross and follow me.”

He taught self-denial. Desperation. Hopelessness in self. Hopelessness so deep that a person would hold nothing back.

Even his life.

No wonder Peter rejected Jesus’ statement that the Messiah must suffer and die. He rebuffed the notion because he didn’t want to die. Peter said “no thanks” to that brand of discipleship.

Jesus’ response? He told Peter that anyone who wishes to follow him must embrace the suffering that marked his own life.

And as disciples of Christ, we are called to embrace that same suffering. That same death. That’s the law of the cross. And it prevails.

Discipleship: What Is It?

A disciple is someone who follows a teacher and submits to his his instruction or training. Where ever there is a teacher and student…you have discipleship.

John the Baptist taught. Pharisees taught. I teach my children. Those we teach, train and instruct are our disciples.

And believers who confess Christ as Savior are disciples of Jesus. And because we are his disciples, we are called to embrace the same suffering and death Christ embraced.

The law of the cross prevails.

Discipleship: How Do We Endure?

God’s ultimate good never promises comfort or luxury. It promises hardship. Toil. Torture. Denial. Death.

Death to self. To autonomy. But in return, we are offered a majestic hope.

Christ set his sights on this hope. He set his sight beyond the pain. We’re called to do the same. To set our sights on that hope.

See, discipleship in persecution depends on seeing circumstances from God’s perspective…rather than in terms of human cost.

In the end, the hard truth of following Christ is that the cost is big. That is the law of the cross. But the rewards are infinite: abundant and eternal life that comes only from faithfully following Christ.

My advice to you: Embrace that brand of discipleship. :

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

**Part of The Messiah: Eleven Meditations from the Book of Mark series.**


Perfect Illustration of What Christ Did for Us


See how Doug Wilson’s story of a teacher explains the difference between good advice and good news.

I confess: Navigating through the nature of God at times leaves me feeling detached and remote.

Far off from God.

Granted, you can’t put your finger on infinityEternalitySelf-existence.

These topics at first blush are unbelievably impractical, impersonal, ineffable and intimidating.

No wonder Job once argued that there was no arbitrator between man and God:

In truth I know that this is so; But how can a man be in the right before God? If one wished to dispute with Him, he could not answer Him once in a thousand times. 

It’s at these times when a story like Doug Wilson’s Teacher illustration brings the sheer practicality of God and redemptive history home for me.

The Illustration

In a recent video John Piper shares the illustration in question. It’s an illustration on the difference between good advice and good news.

For those to lazy to  [I sometimes fall into this category], let me summarize the illustration.

Picture a young man before his trigonometry teacher. It’s the first day of class. He’s anxious about passing. She gives him advice on how to succeed: Study hard. Memorize your tables. Do your homework.

He follows her advice. However, at the end of the semester, at the final exam, this young man is hunched over a blank piece of paper.

The teacher passes, notices the blank paper. More good advice looks like this: Relax. Answer the easy questions first. Build off of those. Think harder.

On the other hand, good news look like this: The teacher says, “Scoot over. I’ll take the exam for you.”

That illustration characterizes the gospel. The climax of redemptive history. And it distinguishes between good advice and good news.

The Essential Meaning of the Illustration

It also articulates what’s meant by propitiation, substitutionary atonement, justification by faith alone.

And it reminds of us of the solid ground we stand on. It will be Christ’s righteousness–not our own–that is going to count for us on Judgment day.

In the end, Wilson’s illustrations is an image of the vivid, concrete anchor we have in Christ. The flesh and blood hope we have in the face of an unfathomable, holy God. And the compelling vision that stirs our soul to worship, work for and wonder at him who loved us so much that he sent his only son to die for us.

It grounds us in the spiritual reality that sometimes eludes us. Please share the story.