The Cross As the Instrument of Discipleship: Prepare to be Hated & to Endure unto the End

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as it was written and recorded by John Mark. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first thirty verses of the ninth chapter of this New Testament book. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will quickly and most certainly discover that it comes directly on the heels of that which is found in the previous chapter. You cannot read the words found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter the tremendous link and connection between what is found in the final verses of the eighth chapter and what is found within this portion of Scripture. In fact, I would dare say that there is a great need to read and consider the words which are found in the previous chapter before even attempting to delve into the words found in the opening verses of the ninth chapter. The words which are found in the final portion of the eighth chapter are actually the second account of that which the apostle Matthew writes and records in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is absolutely necessary that we read and consider the words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew, as well as the words which are found in the final portion of the eighth chapter, for by doing so we gain a proper and clearer understanding that which John Mark writes in the ninth chapter of this gospel narrative concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is with this in mind I invite you to first turn and direct your attention to the words found in the sixteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, and then consider the words found in the latter portion of the eighth chapter of this particular gospel written by John Mark:

            “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged He His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ” (Matthew 16:13-20).

            “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him,s aying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But He turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Then said Jesus unto His disciples, IF any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, ,There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:21-28).

            With these words which were written by the apostle Matthew in his gospel narrative and account of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, I now invite you to read and consider the following words which are found in the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative and account which was written and recorded by John Mark—a traveling companion of Paul and Barnabas, and later would be a travelling companion of Barnabas. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark beginning with the twenty-seventh verse of the eighth chapter:

            “And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? And they answered, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. And he charged them that should tell no man of him” (Mark 8:27-30).

            “And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. And when He had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:31-38).

            If and as you read the words which are found in the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Peter you will quickly notice and discover that the words found in this passage were very much similar to the words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how absolutely incredible and tremendous this truth truly is, for this is the second time where we not only read about Jesus beginning to teach His disciples concerning the suffering He Himself must experience and endure, but also where we find Jesus teaching and speaking unto His disciples concerning their own suffering. Perhaps what is so incredibly necessary to think about and consider when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture is when you think about and consider that although this would be the beginning of Jesus teaching and speaking unto His disciples concerning the suffering He Himself would endure, it would not be the first time He would teach and speak unto His disciples concerning the suffering they would and could expect to endure in this world. There would be those who would like to think of the cross as the ultimate symbol of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet what we must needs realize and understand is that before the cross would ever be identified and described as the instrument upon which Jesus would be forced to carry and ultimately die, it would first be an instrument of discipleship. Oh for a considerable amount of time I thought the cross was the ultimate symbol of the sacrifice and death of the Lord Jesus Christ as an atonement for our sins, and I thought that Jesus died on the cross that we wouldn’t have to. The truth of the matter, however, is that if this were truly and indeed the case—not only would we not find one named Simon being forced to help Jesus carry His cross, but we also wouldn’t see two thieves crucified one on each side of Jesus there at Calvary.

            I have to admit that the more I think about and the more I consider this particular truth the more I am brought face to face with the fact that Jesus didn’t carry His cross so that we wouldn’t have to, for not only do we find Him on two different occasions teaching His disciples how a true sign and mark of discipleship is indeed carrying one’s own cross, but we also find one named Simon being forced to help Jesus carry His cross. It is actually quite astonishing that on two separate occasions the Lord Jesus Christ would teach His disciples how they must needs carry their own cross, and even when Jesus was forced to carry His own cross there would be another who in the natural would be forced to help Jesus carry His cross. It is with that in mind we must needs realize and understand that although Simon was indeed forced by the Romans to help Jesus carry His cross, I would dare say there was something much greater and much larger that was taking place—namely, that Simon was invited to participate in and partake of the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ. We know that Jesus would ultimately die at Calvary upon the very cross He would be forced to carry, however, we also know that prior to the death would be a tremendous amount of suffering that would take place—namely, the scourging, the beating, being spit upon, being slapped, being ridiculed, being mocked and being scorned. There is not a doubt in my mind that the suffering of Jesus which He would endure would indeed include being spit upon, being slapped, being beaten and buffeted, and even being scourged. What’s more, is that the Lord Jesus Christ would indeed and would in fact be forced to carry His own cross to the place of His death. It is that concept of Jesus carrying His cross that would ultimately bring Simon into the light from out of the shadows as Simon would be taken from the crowd to help Jesus carry His cross. This is truly interesting and intriguing when you consider it, for there have been some pictures and images that show Simon helping Jesus carry His cross as they would carry it together, and there would be other images that would show Simon carrying the cross for Jesus as He would be too weakened and frail from all the suffering and beating which would take place.

            The more I sit here and consider the reality of the cross, the more I am convinced that Jesus didn’t die on the cross so we wouldn’t have, for not only would there be two thieves who would die on the cross next to Him, but there would also be countless Christians in the upcoming years and generations who would be crucified and put to death by the Romans. If Jesus died on the cross so we wouldn’t have to then why were there countless Christians during the days of the Roman Empire who would themselves be crucified? Why would there be two thieves crucified one to the right and one to the left at Calvary where Jesus Himself would be crucified? I am absolutely and completely convinced that we dare not and ought not make the declaration that Jesus died on the cross so we wouldn’t have to, for this simply is not the case. What’s more, is I would dare say that it is entirely and altogether false to think about and consider the fact that Jesus would indeed and would in fact die upon the cross so we wouldn’t have to, for even in recent generations there have been Christians who would be crucified upon crosses as a means of suffering and persecution. Oh it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this truly astonishing and powerful truth, for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that Jesus did not die on the cross so that we wouldn’t have to, for there would be countless Christians throughout the days of the Roman Empire from that time on who would indeed be crucified upon their own cross. What’s more, is that we dare not and must not state, nor even believe that Jesus carried His own cross so we ourselves wouldn’t have to. If this was indeed and was in fact the case then Simon would not have been taken and pulled from the crowd to help Jesus carry His cross. Not only this, but there would not be distinct places within the public life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ when He would teach the disciples how they must needs deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him.

            The words which we find in this passage of Scripture bring us face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth that before the cross would ever be a symbol of the death and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ it would indeed and would in fact be a symbol of discipleship and of those who wished to follow the Lord Jesus. WE dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how absolutely incredible and wonderful this truth truly is, for we have a great need to realize and understand that before the cross would be the symbol of the death and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ it would first be a wonderful and powerful symbol of the suffering and discipleship of those who wished to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. It is something worth thinking about and considering when reading this particular portion of Scripture that although Jesus would at this particular point in time begin teaching His disciples how He must needs suffer, and how He must needs be killed and crucified, and how He would ultimately rise from death to life, He would also teach and prepare His disciples for the suffering they themselves would experience and endure in this life. Oh it is truly something worth thinking about and noting that this would not even be the first time the Lord Jesus would teach and prepare His disciples for the suffering they would indeed and would in fact experience in this world. In fact, it wouldn’t even be the last time Jesus would teach His disciples that they too would walk through, face, experience and endure suffering within this life. If you turn and direct your attention to the Sermon on the Mount you will find that Jesus taught and prepared His disciples for suffering, for opposition and for persecution which they would face and experience within this life, and there would be found in what we know as “The Beatitudes” language surrounding being persecuted for the sake of righteousness. When Jesus called unto Himself His twelve disciples and sent them out two by two before His face He would prepare them to face, experience and endure suffering in this world as a direct result of walking with and following Him. In the famous Olivet Discourse Jesus would also teach and prepare His disciples once more for the suffering they would indeed face and experience in this world in the Last Days. With all of this in mind I invite you to turn and direct your attention to the following three passages found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:

            “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).

            “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciples is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, HOW MUCH MORE SHALL THEY CALL THEM OF HIS HOUSEHOLD? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:16-33).

            “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followed after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:34-39).

            “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:4-14).

            PREPARE TO BE HATED! PREPARE TO ENDURE UNTO THE END! PREPARE FOR SUFFERING! PREPARE FOR PERSECUTION! PREPARE FOR AFFLICTION! PREPARE FOR TRIALS, TROUBLES AND TRIBULATION! It is when you read the words found within these passages of Scripture you can and will be brought face to face with Jesus teaching and preparing His disciples for the suffering they can and they will endure and experience within this life. The words found in each of these passages of Scripture present and bring us face to face with the Lord Jesus preparing His disciples—not only to be hated of all men for His name’s sake, but also preparing them for the tremendous need for endurance during those times. What’s more, is that it is with these words we find and encounter the Lord Jesus preparing His disciples for persecution, for suffering, for affliction, and to face tremendous opposition within this life. In all reality—the more we think about discipleship the more we must needs realize and recognize that discipleship has at the very heart and center of it a call for endurance—and not only a call for endurance, but a call for endurance in the midst of persecution, and a call to love our enemies and those who despitefully use us. What makes the words found in the gospel narrative all the more provocative to that one who professes to be a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ is that not only did the Lord Jesus prepare us to be hated of all nations for His name’s sake, but He also prepared us to love our enemies, and to do good unto those who would rise up against us in opposition and affliction. Not only this, but Jesus never drew a distinction between how we love our neighbours and how we love our brother and sister and how we love our enemies. There is absolutely no distinction made as to our need to love our neighbour and our brother one way, while at the same time loving our enemies in and entirely different way. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:

            “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right check, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:38-48).

            The further we delve into this particular truth the more we can and will be brought into the place where we recognize and understand that while it was indeed true that Jesus began teaching and preparing His disciples for the suffering He would face and be forced to endure, as well as His ultimate death and crucifixion upon the cross before rising from the dead on the third day, Jesus also spent a considerable amount of time teaching and preparing His disciples for the suffering which they themselves would experience and endure within this life. As early as the Sermon on the Mount we find Jesus not only preparing His disciples for persecution, but we also find Jesus preparing His disciples to be reviled and despitefully treated within this life. Not only this, but we also find Jesus instructing His disciples to rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for so also were the prophets of old also persecuted, reviled and despitefully used. Taking this a step further we must needs realize and understand that the Lord Jesus would also speak directly unto His disciples and followers and would prepare them for the awesome truth that they were called, invited and instructed to love their neighbors as themselves, but also to love their enemies. In the Sermon on the Mount—not only did Jesus acknowledge that in this life would experience persecution, but also in this life there would be those whom we would and who we might consider as enemies. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we pay close and careful attention to this, for Jesus declared unto His disciples and followers that they had heard how it had been said they were to love their neighbors, however, Jesus was giving them an entirely new commandment—namely, that they should indeed and should in fact love their enemies. What’s more, is Jesus would go on to encourage and instruct them to pray for those who despitefully use them, and those who would mistreat them. Taking this a step further we must also recognize and realize that Jesus taught and prepared us to love both our neighbors and our enemies while at the same time teaching and preparing us to be hated of all nations for His name’s sake.

            Oh it is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading the words found within the gospel narratives, for the words which we see here bring us face to face with the tremendous and powerful truth that we have indeed and have in fact been taught and prepared to face and experience suffering in this life. There would be those who would like to think that Jesus died on the cross so we wouldn’t have to, and while that’s true in the sense of experiencing the just penalty for our sin and satisfying the wrath of the living God—it is not true in the sense of discipleship and our walking as disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is indeed and it is in fact true the Lord Jesus Christ did in fact die upon the cross to satisfy the wrath of God and to satisfy the judgment of God for and upon sin, and it is true that Jesus died upon the cross to make atonement for our sins, however, to say definitively that Jesus died on the cross so we wouldn’t have to is an entirely different concept when we think about it in terms of discipleship. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand how Jesus did indeed die upon the cross, however, His death upon the cross would be a wonderful and powerful invitation given unto us concerning how we take up and treat our cross. Jesus made no mistake about it and held no punches when He taught and prepared His disciples to deny themselves, to take up their cross and to follow Him, for Jesus would directly link and connect the cross to discipleship and our walking with and following Him. We must make absolutely no mistake about it, for we have indeed and have in fact been called to deny ourselves, and from that place of self-denial take up our cross and follow Him. What’s more, is that we must needs realize and understand the intrinsic link between denying ourselves and choosing to give up our lives in this life for the sake of the kingdom, for it is only to the degree and measure we are willing to deny ourselves we are truly willing and able to take up our cross.

            I am sitting here right now thinking about the words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, as well as the words which are found in the eighth chapter of the gospel narrative which was written by John Mark and I am brought face to face with the incredible reality that at the same time as Jesus asked His disciples who they said that He the Son of man was He would also speak unto and teach them how HE must needs suffer many things, be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed before being risen from death to life on the third day. What’s more, is that almost in the same context as understanding the identity of the Lord Jesus Christ we must also recognize that Jesus would prepare them for the suffering which He would endure—and not only the suffering He would endure, but also the death that He would face and experience as a direct result of the opposition which would be presented from and by the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel. It is truly something worth noting and pointing out when reading these words how the Lord Jesus Christ would indeed ask His disciples who they said that He the Son of man was, and it would be the apostle Peter who would speak up and emphatically declare and proclaim that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus would respond to Simon Peter’s declaration with the words that flesh and blood had not and did not reveal that unto him, but that it was His Father in heaven who had revealed it unto him. Moreover, Jesus would go on to say that upon that rock He would build His church, and the gates of hell would not stand, nor prevail against it. Immediately after this we find Jesus beginning to teach His disciples how He must needs suffer many things, be rejected, and ultimately be killed before rising from death to life on the third day. Not only this, but we also find and read how the Lord Jesus Christ would once more teach and prepare His disciples for the suffering they themselves would face and experience, for He would emphatically declare unto them that those who would come after Him must needs deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him.  Not only this, but Jesus would also go on to proclaim that whosoever would lose his life for His sake and the gospel’s would be the same that would save it. This would immediately be followed by the Lord Jesus Christ asking what it would profit a man if he would gain the whole world and yet lose his own soul. This as well as the Lord asking what a man would truly be willing to give in exchange for his soul.

            The more you read the words which are found within these passages of Scripture the more you will be brought face to face with the absolutely astounding and remarkable truth that we must not think of the cross solely as means of salvation and not as in instrument of discipleship and as a symbol of the same. I continue to be absolutely captivated with the truth that there are countless men and women who would argue and contend that the cross is solely an instrument and sign of the suffering, the sacrifice and the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet the truth of the matter is that before it was ever a symbol of Jesus’ suffering it was a symbol of discipleship. I fully realize there would be those who would argue and seek to contend with me on this matter, and yet if you read the four gospel narratives—and I mean truly read them—you will quickly encounter as early as the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew that the cross was used by Jesus as a symbol of discipleship and as an instrument of walking with and following Him. What’s more, is that Jesus would even go so far as to say that anyone who did not deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Him would not be worthy of Him. Oh we must needs realize and understand that the cross was first introduced as a symbol and instrument of our following the Lord Jesus Christ before it would ever be something He Himself would carry and die upon. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how incredible this truly is, for it forces us to have a conversation concerning what our relationship with and to the cross truly is. Oh please understand that I am not referencing what our relationship and what our fellowship is with the cross which the Lord Jesus Christ carried Himself, and which He would ultimately die upon. Although it is truly necessary to have a relationship and an association with the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ we must needs recognize and understand that we cannot have a conversation and discussion about our relationship about the cross of Jesus Christ without and apart from having a conversation about the cross we ourselves have been called to carry—and not only carry, but also be crucified upon.

            There would be those who would like to distance themselves from the cross that must needs be present within their own lives based on the argument that Jesus carried the cross so we wouldn’t have to, and even that Jesus died upon the cross so we wouldn’t have to. The truth and underlying reality, however, is that such a statement is entirely and altogether false. As I have already mentioned we know that in the sense of propitiation and in the sense of atonement and satisfying the just judgment and wrath of God and the penalty of sin Jesus did indeed and did in fact die upon the cross so we wouldn’t have to. What we must realize and understand is that is where the argument stops and that is where the argument must stop, for we must needs understand that the cross is more than just a symbol and instrument of the sacrifice and death of Jesus. The cross is truly and ultimately a symbol and instrument of discipleship—and not only as a symbol of discipleship, but also perhaps the single greatest expression of the Lordship of Jesus within our lives. We must needs realize and understand that the cross was introduced as a symbol of discipleship and was directly linked and connected to our walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ before it would be introduced as the means whereby Jesus would suffer and die. What’s more, is that I can’t help but see in the presence of the cross within the life of our Lord a powerful invitation given unto us to be a people who can and will carry our cross, and a people who will not only carry the cross, but a people who are willing to truly allow the work of the cross to have an effect within our lives. Not only this, but I would dare say that it was precisely because Jesus carried His cross, and it was precisely because Jesus died upon the cross He carried that gives our cross the weight, the significance and power within our lives. Without and apart from the cross which Jesus carried, and without and apart from the cross which Jesus died upon the crosses we ourselves agree to carry are completely and utterly powerless and of no effect.

            The more I think about and consider this reality the more I am brought face to face with the fact that not only is the cross a symbol of discipleship within our lives, but so also is suffering a symbol of discipleship. What’s more, is that in addition to this we must needs realize and understand that both the cross and suffering are also ultimate symbols of the Lordship of Jesus within our lives. Those who are willing to deny themselves and take up their cross, and those who are willing to endure suffering and hardship as a good soldier of Jesus are those who are truly and ultimately those who are willing to bring themselves under the Lordship of Jesus. Oh how we must needs realize, recognize and understand that there is a great and powerful need within our hearts and lives to truly and ultimately bring ourselves under the lordship of Jesus Christ, and that two of the greatest expressions of that lordship is through our willingness to deny ourselves, to take up our cross and to follow Him, as well as to endure suffering as a good soldier of Jesus. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely necessary and vital it is when we think about and consider the fact that we have indeed been called into a place beyond simply Jesus as Savior within our lives, and have been called into the place where Jesus is indeed Lord within our lives and over area of our lives. It is not by coincidence that within the same epistle the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome he would invite, admonish and encourage them to present their bodies as living sacrifices which were holy and acceptable in the sight of the Lord, as well as declared unto them that if we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe with our hearts that God raised Him from death to life we shall be saved. Oh there is a strong and powerful link and connection between the presentation of our bodies as living sacrifices which are holy and acceptable in the sight of the living God, as well as the confession of our mouths Jesus is truly and indeed Lord. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is, for directly linked and connected to discipleship within our lives is that reality and concept of the Lordship of Jesus, for it is impossible to separate discipleship from Lordship as the two are intrinsically linked and bound together.

            I sit here today thinking about the narrative and language that is found within the eighth and ninth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by John Mark, and I can’t help but see and find the same progression that was presented and found within the New Testament gospel narrative written by Matthew. It would be in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew that we find Jesus asking the disciples who men said that He the Son of man was, and then after hearing their statements would make the question personal and ask them who they said that He the Son of man was. We know that it would be Simon called Peter who would emphatically declare and proclaim that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of the living God, and how Jesus would pronounce him as being blessed for flesh and blood had not revealed it unto him, but His Father who was in heaven. Immediately after this we find Jesus beginning to teach the disciples how He must needs suffer many things at the hands of and be rejected by the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people before being killed and raised from death to life on the third day. This would ultimately be followed by Simon called Peter attempting to take Him aside and rebuke Him stating that He would not suffer nor would He die, and Jesus turning to Simon and rebuking him declaring that Satan needed to get behind him for he was an offense to him for he did not savour the things that be of God but of men. Just after this encounter between Jesus and Simon called Peter we find Jesus speaking directly unto the disciples and declaring unto them that anyone who wished and desired to come after Him must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him. This would also be followed by the Lord Jesus declaring that those who sought to save their lives would lose them, but those who would lose their lives for His sake and the gospel’s would save it. These words would also be followed by Jesus asking what it would profit a man if he would gain the whole world and lose his own soul, or what would a man give in exchange for his soul.

            As you continue reading in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that Jesus would take with Him Peter, James and John with Him into an high mountain apart by themselves. It would be there upon the mountain He would be transfigured before them, and His raiment would become shining and bright, and exceeding white as the snow. What’s more, is that there would appear with Jesus both the prophet Elijah, as well as Moses who would talk with Jesus. This is truly something interesting and worth thinking about and considering, for the prophet Elijah essentially represented the prophets, while Moses would represent the Law. There on that mountain you will find and experience the Lord Jesus being transfigured before these three disciples as He would be clothed and arrayed with a measure of the glory which He had with the Father from the beginning of time. There atop the mountain the Lord Jesus Christ would indeed be transfigured before them in their sight, His appearance would be altered, and there would appear talking and speaking with Him both Moses and Elijah. Oh it is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading this particular narrative, for the same chronology and progression that was found in the New Testament gospel written by the apostle Matthew was also found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark. When writing his gospel narrative concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ John Mark would write how after six days—six days after asking the disciples who men said that He the Son of man was, and six days after asking them who they said that He the Son of man was, and six days after Simon Peter would proclaim Him as the Christ and the Son of the living God, and six days after Jesus began teaching them how He must needs suffer many things and be rejected at the hands of the chief priests, scribes and the elders of Israel before being killed and raised to life on the third day He would take Simon, James and John into a high mountain where He would be transfigured before them.

            It is truly interesting when you think about and consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for when you read it you can’t but wonder what Simon, James and John must have thought as Jesus led them up into this high mountain. There is not a doubt in my mind that Simon, James and John thought about and wondered why Jesus was taking them up into an high mountain and what would await them there upon that mountain. I do believe that Jesus Himself knew what was going to take place upon that mountain and was preparing to bring these disciples into a powerful place of revelation. What makes this all the more interesting is when you consider this from the vantage and standpoint of Simon Peter who had already declared and professed Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, and how Jesus declared unto Him that flesh and blood had not revealed it unto Him, but His Father in heaven. Essentially what we have within this progression of the gospels is the revelation of Jesus being the Christ and the Son of the living God, we find the revelation of the suffering, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and we find the invitation to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him. Now directly on the heels of those distinct revelations—the revelation of Jesus as the Christ and the Son of the living God, the revelation of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, and the revelation of self-denial, taking up the cross and following Jesus—we find Jesus taking these three disciples into a place of additional revelation. There would be the revelation of Jesus as the Christ the Son of the living God, and there would be the revelation of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection, and now there would be the powerful transfiguration before these three disciples.

            I have to admit that the narrative and account of the transfiguration is truly and indeed powerful when you think about the fact that Jesus would appear atop a mountain talking and speaking with two men who would themselves have powerful encounters with the living God atop Horeb in the wilderness. It would be Moses who would initially have an encounter with the LORD when he led his father-in-law’s sheep to the mountain in the wilderness and experienced the presence of God in the burning bush which burned and yet was not consumed. It would be Moses who would also be called to come up further upon Horeb when the LORD would not only give him the Law, but would also give him the pattern of the Tabernacle. It would be there at Horeb where the living God would descend upon the mountain in thick clouds, in tremendous darkness, in thunders and lightnings, and with a consuming fire atop the mountain. It would also be there atop the mountain where the LORD would invite Moses into the cleft of the rock and would hide his face from seeing Him, and at the last moment would remove His hand and allow Moses to see His backside. Not only this, but it would also be at Horeb—the same mountain where Moses would experience and encounter the living God—the prophet Elijah would himself experience and encounter the Lord. It would be there at Horeb the prophet Elijah would experience a fire, a wind, and an earthquake, and yet the LORD would not be in any of these, for the LORD would be in the still small voice that would speak unto him there at the mountain. Oh it’s truly interesting to think about the fact that it would be Moses and Elijah—Moses who represented the Law, and Elijah who represented the prophets—would both experience the glory and the presence of the LORD upon the same mountain. It would be here upon a different mountain where Moses and Elijah would once more have an encounter, yet this time the encounter would not be with the LORD, but would be with Jesus who was the eternal and only begotten Son of the Father.

            I am sitting here today thinking about this encounter and experience atop the mountain when the Lord Jesus Christ was transfigured in the sight of Simon called Peter, James and John, and how it would be there upon that mountain where these three disciples of Jesus would witness and behold His being transfigured before them, and would witness His raiment being changed as He would be transfixed with both light and glory and a raiment that was whiter than the whitest snow. What makes this all the more intriguing and interesting is when you think about and consider the awesome and powerful truth that there atop the mountain—not only would Peter, James and John experience the transfigured Christ, but so also would Elijah and Moses experience the Christ. It’s worth noting that there atop the mountain Moses and Elijah would speak with the Lord Jesus Christ, and I would dare say that it was perhaps for the first time. There atop the mountain Peter, James and John would witness and behold Jesus which represented grace, mercy and truth speaking with the Law and the prophets. It would be there atop the mountain where a bright cloud which would overshadow Peter, James, John, as well as Jesus, Moses and Elijah, and a voice would speak from the cloud once more declaring that this was the beloved Son of the Father, and an instruction to hear Him. Oh I have often thought about and wondered who this declaration from the Father would truly and indeed be for. Did this voice which spoke from the midst of the cloud come that Peter, James and John might know that this was the beloved Son of the Father, or did this voice come that Moses and Elijah might know and understand that this One whom they were speaking with was truly and indeed the Son? Moreover, was the command and instruction to hear and listen to the Lord Jesus Christ given for Peter, James and John, or was this command given for Moses and Elijah?

            I find myself wondering what Jesus would indeed speak about with Moses and Elijah, and whether or not Peter, James and John would and could hear these three men speaking there atop the mountain. We know that Peter, James and John would witness and behold Jesus transfigured before them, and we know that they would also see Moses and Elijah, and yet I can’t help but wonder if they would and could hear the dialogue and exchange that would take place between these three men. What a truly awesome and powerful thought and concept it is to think about and consider the fact that there atop the mountain Jesus who was the beloved Son of the Father would speak with that one who represented the Law, as well as that one who represented the prophets. We know that both the Law and the prophets spoke about the Lord Jesus Christ, and we know that Jesus declared that He did not come to abolish the Law or the prophets but rather to fulfill them. Now here atop the mountain we find Jesus being transfigured before and in the presence of Peter, James and John, and we find Moses and Elijah speaking there with Him. The question I can’t help but wonder and ask myself is how Peter, James and John knew that it would be Moses and Elijah that would appear with and speak together with Jesus. We know that thus far both the apostle Matthew and John Mark wrote concerning this transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ, and how both would record how it would be Moses and Elijah who would appear speaking with Jesus. Oh I can’t help but wonder how Peter, James and John knew that it was Moses and Elijah speaking together with Jesus, as both men would be present generations and centuries prior to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and prior to the days of Peter, James and John. Oh it is truly something unique and worth thinking about how on this particular day we find Jesus being transfigured before Peter, James and John, and how there atop the mountain Jesus would speak with Moses who would represent the Law, and Elijah who would represent the prophets. There atop the mountain Jesus would appear speaking together with these two Old Testament prophets, and would speak to those who would indeed and would in fact speak of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If there is one thing I so absolutely love about this particular encounter and experience Peter, James and John found atop the mountain was that not only did they witness and behold Jesus being transfigured before them, and not only did they witness and experience Jesus talking and speaking with Moses and Elijah, but Peter, James and John would also witness the bright cloud overshadowing them and the voice of the Father speaking from the midst of the cloud—not only declaring and proclaiming for a second time that Jesus was the beloved Son of the Father, but this time instructing those present to hear Him. This takes on an entirely different meaning when you think about and consider the fact that there atop the mountain the cloud would not only overshadow Peter, James and John, but the cloud would also overshadow Jesus, Moses and Elijah. We know that in the first chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews the author writes how God at sundry times and in divers manners spoke unto the fathers through the prophets, but has now spoken unto us by and through His Son. I am absolutely and completely convinced that we must needs realize, recognize and understand this, for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and wonderful truth concerning the identity of Jesus as the Son of the living God—and not only Jesus as the Son of the living God, but also the command and instruction to hear Him. What makes this even more powerful is when you think about and consider how Simon called Peter had already professed and proclaimed Jesus as the Christ and the Son of the living God and how Jesus declared that flesh and blood did not reveal it unto him, but rather His Father who was in heaven. Now we have Simon called Peter being present atop the mountain hearing the voice of the Father speak from the midst of the cloud which overshadowed them and not only declaring and proclaiming that this was the beloved Son, but also hearing the command to hear Him.

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it truly wonderful and powerful to think about and consider the fact that Simon called Peter would indeed proclaim and profess that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of the living God, and how Jesus would acknowledge that flesh and blood had not revealed it unto him, but rather His Father who was in heaven. This is especially interesting when Jesus’ first question would indeed and would in fact ask the disciples what flesh and blood said, and what flesh and blood had spoken concerning Him. What Simon called Peter would speak and reveal would be not that which flesh and blood had revealed and spoken concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, but what the Father in heaven had revealed concerning Him. Now here we are atop the mountain and we find the Father once more speaking concerning Jesus, and this time speaking and revealing concerning Him that He was the beloved Son of the Father, and that those present would in fact need to hear Him. Oh I would dare say that there atop the mountain the voice of the Father would speak to both the disciples which were present that this Jesus before them would indeed and would in fact be the beloved Son of the Father, and that they had a need to hear and listen to Him. With that being said, I am also incredibly convinced that there atop the mountain the voice of the Father would speak directly unto Moses revealing this One whom they were speaking with was the beloved Son of the Father. Oh imagine what it would have been like for Moses and Elijah to be there in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ and hearing the voice of the Father—the same voice which they had both heard at Horeb in the wilderness—declaring unto them that this Jesus was the beloved Son of the Father and that they needed to hear Him. What a truly awesome and powerful truth it is to think about and consider that there atop the mountain in the transfigured presence of Christ and in the shadow and cloud of the Almighty Moses and Elijah would hear the declaration and proclamation that this Jesus was truly and indeed the Son of God, and that they needed to hear and listen to Him. Oh imagine what it was like for the Law and the prophets to appear speaking with Jesus, and then for the voice of the Father speaking unto them and declaring unto the Law and the prophets that this One whom they were speaking to was more than simply that One for whom there was a Messianic expectation, but also that this One was the beloved Son of the Father.

I conclude this writing with an incredibly powerful admonishment and command that we must needs recognize and understand that this Jesus is indeed the Son of the living God, and that there is a great need to hear and listen to Him. There were times within the public life and ministry of Jesus when He would emphatically declare that those who had ears to hear should hear what was being spoken unto them, and now here on this particular occasion we find the Father appearing in the midst of this transfiguration and not only declaring that this Jesus was the beloved Son of the Father, but also instructing them to hear and listen to Him. Oh that we would be a people who not only recognize and understand that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of the living God, but that we would be those who would truly and indeed listen to and hear Him speak. Oh that we would be men and women who would indeed read that which was spoken in the Law and the prophets, but that we would hear and listen to the words which have been spoken by and through the eternal Son of the Father. There is a great need for us—especially within this generation in which we are living—to hear and listen to the words which the Lord Jesus Christ spoken. If there has ever been a time when we have desperately needed the red letters and the words which the Lord Jesus Christ has indeed spoken it is most certainly now in this particular generation. In this generation in which “fact checking” has become something and somewhat of a norm, and in this generation in which “cancel culture” has sought to cancel countless voices of the past, as well as voices in the present, there is a great need that we hear and listen to the voice of the eternal and only begotten Son. What’s more, is that we must needs devote and commit ourselves unto the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and truly hear and listen to the words which He had spoken unto us, and that we would allow the person of the Holy Spirit to teach us all things concerning Christ—that one for whom no fact check is necessary and that one for whom no man regardless of how strong and powerful they think they are can cancel.

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