Gospel: Discipleship (Mark 8:27-38)


ð       A good teacher usually makes a lasting impression in a child’s life. I had the good fortune to have had many good teachers. One of those was my elementary music teacher, Mr. Brown. Mr. Brown was a cool guy. His classroom had stage lighting, lots of steps and a record player always playing. I can remember Mr. Brown teaching us lots of songs, music notes and we even learned square dancing. There was one time when we were learning to play the recorder with our first song being “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. I practiced (if you could call it that) for weeks at home. And then the time came for us to play the song in front of the whole class. Mr. Brown would sit in front of the classroom and call each child to stand before him and the class to play the song. When it became my turn he called my name and I walked up ready to play. However, before I played he said these words, “Now listen David. You are a Brown. And I am a Brown. Don’t disappoint me.” Talk about pressure! Well, I played my song with average ability and he was pleased.  

ð       There’s also a story about Alexander the Great. Alexander was a Greek King and developed one of the largest empires of ancient history. He was known to never have been defeated in battle and one of the most influential commanders of the world. One incident is told of Alexander catching one of his soldiers sleeping on duty. Alexander the Great asked the soldier his name and the soldier said, “Alexander”. Alexander the Great asked the man 3 more times and the soldier responded the same, “Alexander”. Alexander the Great then said, “Either change your name or change your conduct.”

*The moral of these two stories is that leaders have high expectations and little tolerance for compromise in their followers.

EXAMINE           Mark 8:27-38

This point in Mark’s Gospel marks a shift where most of Jesus’ ministry has focused on the crowds, he now turns to the way of discipleship. Before, the crowd could follow Jesus wherever with little cost, now the disciples would begin the principles of cross-bearing.


Disciples have no rivals (8:27-30).

Jesus has likely spent over a year and a half with his disciples at this point and he poses them a question. The question pertains to his identity. There were many popular opinions of Jesus (6:14-15) and the disciples were more than willing to share those views to avoid personal responsibility. However, Jesus probes further for the disciples’ (plural) viewpoint. Peter, the disciples’ brash spokesperson, identifies Jesus as “the Christ/Messiah”.

To understand Jesus’ identity as the Messiah is to affirm Him as the promised divine deliverer. All throughout the OT there were promises that God would send one to rescue His people. Jesus came in fulfillment to these promises and finally the disciples were beginning to place their faith in him as such. This would mean there would be no other to whom their allegiance would be given; Jesus was their final authority as one of his disciples. Likewise, as followers of Jesus we give him supreme worship. There should be no relationship, activity or object that competes with Jesus’ Lordship in your life. He becomes top priority.

Illus: As this week marks the start of the NFL season, most everyone knows there is a team for whom I root and it is predominantly not the same team you root. I am constantly questioned why I will not root for your team since it is in a different conference & division and it is a team in our home state. My simple answer is that I have no rivals.

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”


*These questions identify your rival

What do you daydream about?

ð       Where or what do you spend the bulk of your time?

ð       What gives you the most stress, frustration or loss of sleep?

µ       Why does Jesus warn the disciples to tell no one about him?
This is Mark’s literary tool, known as the ‘messianic secret”, to show that a disciple cannot fully be a disciple until they understand the complete roll of the Messiah as a suffering servant who would die and be resurrected.


Disciples have no refusals (8:31-34).

Jesus further teaches about the role of the Messiah saying he would suffer, be rejected and killed. Peter rebukes Jesus because he expected a Messiah who would bring about military victory, overthrowing the Roman government. However, Jesus strongly rebuked Peter as Satan, the one opposing the supreme mission of the Messiah and call for discipleship.

Jesus wanted the disciples to realize that if they follow him in life they will follow him in self-denial. Discipleship involves hardship and cross-bearing. A cross was an execution instrument, in other words it was a call to die. Unfortunately, this concept of discipleship is far different than today’s. Modern Christianity seeks to satisfy personal comfort, happiness, and ease. Disciples cannot refuse the demands of Jesus.

–          Carrying your cross means obedience in the hard areas, which brings depth to your walk with God.

ð       What area of your life are you refusing to obey God?


Disciples have no regrets (8:35-38).

Jesus summarizes the demands of discipleship saying those who lose their life for the sake of the gospel will save it. Those who live their life for this world yet forfeits their soul gains nothing. Disciples of Jesus may experience suffering and hardship but they will have no regrets in the end. There can be no price or cost on the salvation of a soul.

No doubt, these words sparked the heart of missionary Jim Elliot. Elliot was a missionary to Ecuador, who along with four other missionaries was killed on January 8, 1956, while he wanted to share the gospel with the Auca people. In a journal entry dated October 28, 1949, he wrote: “He is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Indeed, he understood Jesus’ demands of discipleship carried no regrets.


ð       What are you attempting to gain from this world? Will you be able to hold onto it in the grave? There’s an old saying that they have no uhaul trucks behind a hearse. The point is that we need to seriously evaluate our life in relation to Jesus’ question “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”

ð       As you continue thinking about entering eternity – what can you take with you? The only thing that you can take into eternity is people. As disciples of Jesus we are commanded to further the spread of the gospel for others to believe.

[1] This is the first of 3 predictions of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection; with the other two 9:31; 10:33–34.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Great post! I was fortunate as a boy to have Jim Elliot as one of my Sunday School teachers. Here is one of my favorite quotes from him:

    “Christians today haven’t got what the New Testament calls ‘singleness of heart.’ They haven’t got one constant desire. And that one desire I will name ‘the lust for God.’ I am using the word ‘lust’ rather than the love for God because the phrase ‘love for God’ has become almost trite. It is the lust for God that we are missing. You lust only after those things that you desire intensely.

    “The lust for God is the thing that should characterize a Christian. Not that you’ve attained. Not that you’ve arrived. The apostle Paul says, ‘I haven’t arrived. I don’t pretend to have apprehended. But I press toward the mark.’ Paul had huge desires, and that’s what we ought to have.” (Jim Elliot: A Christian Martyr Speaks To You, page 25)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s