What It Means To Be A Disciple Of Jesus

Title: What It Means To Be A Disciple Of Jesus

Bible Book: Mark 8 : 31-38

Author: David Cook

Subject: Discipleship; Jesus, Follower of



How many of you like or know someone who likes to go to cafeterias? One of my favorite cafeteria’s or buffets is Kaycees in Lawrenceville, GA. They have the best fried chicken! These cafeteria places are popular today because they offer a huge selection of food for a reasonable price.

However, it seems to me that there are too many “cafeteria” Christians today. What I mean by this is they “pick and choose” the way they want to walk with God. They want the parts about heaven, forgiveness, abundant life, but skip the parts about personal discipleship and the cross of Jesus Christ.

Why is this? First, many have only heard the “American Gospel,” not the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. The American gospel is that you come to Jesus because Jesus promises you a better life now. If you come to Jesus, He’ll heal your broken marriage, give you a promotion, be a Divine Friend that is like a sweet teddy bear that comforts you at night.

Last year a TV preacher promised, “If you want that new job, if you want new kids, if you want that new job and are sick and tired of the one you are in, God has given me a special word for you. If you believe what I’m telling you, just send in your love gift of $2,008.00. God says 2008 is going to be your most prosperous year if you simply respond by sending us a seed of faith gift of $2,008.00”

Those who buy into the American gospel remind me of the people Jesus talked about in the Parable of the Sower. In Mark 4:16 we read, “These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.”

Second, there is a greater focus on our plan over God’s plan. Mark 8:31-33, “31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

In a sense, Jesus rebukes Peter because at this time Peter was being a “cafeteria Christian.” Although he knew Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, Peter was not eager to hear about a crucified Christ. His mind was closed to Christ who would go through much suffering, ridicule and die on an old rugged cross for sinners. Peter was thinking from his viewpoint only. He was hoping that the Lord Jesus Christ would help Israel become conquerors. He did not completely grasp God’s rescue plan. He was trying to lead Jesus instead of the other way around!

Sometimes, we need to hear truth that is not comfortable to hear, but it is godly wisdom. It’s wisdom that’s going to move us from a place of disobedience to the path of obedience. If Jesus would have listened to Peter, He would have taken the convenient way instead of the cross way. Sometimes even our closest friends, if they are not in tune with God, can mislead us.

Jesus said in Mark 8.38, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

There is no shame in standing with Jesus. There is plenty to be ashamed of in this world. This week in LA a young man was elected prom “queen” at his HS. The news stations applauded him. If people have the courage to live ungodly this openly, how much more should Christians be willing to stand out and live godly for Jesus Christ our Lord. Instead of pointing our fingers at the world, we need to be pointing ourselves and others back to Jesus and His Word.

This is the worldview we need to think about daily. We need to view our culture, government, people through the lens of the Word of God. Are you ashamed Jesus said marriage is between one male and female? Are you ashamed that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through Me?”

Looking back, I am ashamed of the words I spoke to my baseball teammates in high school. Instead of building them up, many times I tore them down. Though I considered myself a Christian, I wasn’t living the life. There wasn’t much a difference between my life and a non Christian.

A great turn off to the unbelieving world is the way Christians can repeat the words of Christ, but don’t live any different than they do. Why do we do this? Often, we are like Peter in that we are focused more on the what we want over what God wants.

Third, we tend to put the majority of our emphasis on this life, rather than the life to come. Mark 8.36, “For what will it profit a man to gain the whole world, and loses his own soul?”

In the year 1000, King Charlemagne’s tomb was opened about 180 years after his death. Inside they found the skeletal remains of the king seated on a throne, the crown still resting upon his skull, and a copy of the Gospels lying in his lap with his bony finger resting on this text: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”

So what does it mean to be a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ?

I. Deny Yourself

Jesus said to be His disciple you have to deny yourself

Mark 8.34, “When HE had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself…”

When Jesus speaks of denying yourself, He’s not talking about giving up smoking, or certain foods, or saying you have no self worth. He is saying to be His disciple you surrender control of your life to His Person and power. It means that when you face decisions in life, you make those decisions based talking to Him about it first and obeying Him. One pastor said, “Denial of self is placing yourself in the hands of God at all times, no matter where His hands may lead you.”

Let me be the first to admit, this is not always easy. The natural tendency is self first, others second. It reminds me of the story of the older and younger brothers whose momma was cooking pancakes. Both boys wanted to be first to eat those hot, butter melted pancakes. Seeing a teachable moment, the mother said, “Now boys, what would Jesus say if he were here?”

They stopped, looked a little confused, and then their mother says, “Jesus would say, ‘My brother, you have the first pancake. I’ll wait.’

The older brother looked at the younger brother and said, ‘Hey John, you be Jesus.’”

Deny yourself? That’s completely backward of this world which says, “Put your self first - self on the throne.” The Message Bible says, “anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat. I AM”

II. Take Up Your Cross

Jesus said to be His disciple you must take up your cross

Mark 8.34, “…take up his cross.”

What does Jesus mean when He says, “take up your cross?” First, what does He not mean? For instance, some say, “My neighbor is giving me a hard time. Oh well, that’s just my cross to bear.” Some say, “I have pain and arthritis, but this is just the cross I’m called to bear.” This is not what Jesus is talking about when He said, “Take up your cross.”

Well then, what does He mean? To take up your cross means that you are voluntarily following Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life. It means that you have made the choice that you are going to do His will, no matter what others may say. It means that you not only wear a cross around your neck as some sort of religious statement, but that you very life is on the cross! It means that you are living mainly for an audience of One.

The cross Jesus calls us to take up is that of obeying Him now. If it brings us suffering, ridicule, pain, family problems, for some even death – we are walking the discipleship road. If you follow the world, you’ll won’t find real life now or in the life to come. “But all my friends say,” – no…you don’t let your friends take you away from Jesus and His will for your life. Your soul is too important!

Winston Churchill told the British people that he had nothing to offer them but "blood, sweat, toil, and tears" in their fight against their enemies. Jesus spoke of the necessity of total commitment---even to the point of death. He conveyed this in no uncertain terms when he said to his disciples, "You must deny yourself…take up your cross…”

III. Follow Me

Jesus said to be His disciple you must follow Him - Mark 8.34, “…follow ME.”

The Christian life is a life that Christ lives in us daily. Too many people look at their Christian life as something that only happened the day they gave their lives to Christ. The call of Jesus is to follow Him “daily.”

A. Lordship

So, how do I do that? How do I follow Jesus daily in regular life? To follow Jesus, first of all means Jesus is Lord of my life. He’s in control. The word “Lord” means Boss. So, I need to get my marching orders from Him. How?

One way would be consistent Bible reading. Just like bread and water satisfy your soul, the Word of God is vital to your spiritual life. The Word of God will is where you find peace, direction, hope, encouragement. Jesus said in John 15:7, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. But this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

B. Prayer

Another way to follow Jesus is through your prayer life. If Jesus, the Son of God needed prayer – time with His Father, how much more you and I? Use your hand as a tool.

Thumb – strongest portion of your hand – God, Family, Church, etc.

Index or “pointer” finger – Police, Fire Station 25, doctors, teachers, etc..

Middle – President Barak Obama, pray for our government to see what God would have them do.

Ring Finger – weakest finger, hungry, helpless, sick, shut ins

Pinkie – pray for yourself

A friend recently challenged me to take time out of each day for 10-15 minutes just to listen and talk to God. Any good relationship takes communication and time! We are going to be spending eternity with Him so now is a great time to grow in that relationship.

C. Church

Church life - it’s easy to get in the habit of not going to church. Why don’t you be the one in your family to come no matter what? Men, lead your family to worship. Start getting everyone ready Saturday Night.

Hebrews 10:25 says not to forsake the assembling of yourselves as is the habit of some. Attending church where the Bible is taught, where Jesus is being honored in worship, where people are being loved and encouraged to find their place of service is a great place to be. It reminds me that I’m loved, that my week has meaning, that people are there to pray for me and together we are accomplishing God’s will. If you don’t like something about your church, do something about it. Don’t make it known to anyone with the exception of the Lord. If you like some things your church is doing, make it known to everyone. Ephesians 5.25 says Jesus loved the church and gave Himself Make your church better!

D. Missions

Mission life - mission life is the life of every believer. Your job is your mission field for Jesus. Your family, neighbors, this community is a mission field for Jesus. Everywhere you go, Jesus wants to shine His light through you. You are His disciple!


The call to be a disciple of Jesus means you deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him.

When Tiger Woods was beginning to learn to play golf, he said, “I really don’t know where the ball is going except forward and far.” Over the years, he learned to work on his game and now he has much greater control over his shots. As great as Tiger is, he’s still not perfect.

As disciples of Jesus we’ll never be perfect on this side of heaven. Discipleship is a lifelong process of obeying King Jesus as Lord according to God’s will and purpose. Begin today with a willing heart. You may seem far from perfect – but keep following Your Master.

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? It means that you put Jesus Christ first in your life and follow Him completely!


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