If We’re Following Christ, Christ Comes First | Mk 8:34-38 Sermon [Video, Text]

The Cross (✝) Walk1

What does it mean to deny oneself? What does it mean to take up one’s cross? What does it mean to follow Jesus?

In this sermon, first shared on 6.30.19 at Alpha Baptist Church in Willingboro, NJ, I strive to answer these questions concerning the conditions and consequences of Christian discipleship (Mk 8:34-38).

Below, please see the video, (hyperlinked) sermon outline and text, Greek text, author’s translation, and bibliography.

You can also skip ahead to the rap / spoken word (~40:57 in the video). About 27 percent of the Bible is poetry! 😁2

Sermon Video

Sermon Outline


(Sung) My life is not my own | to you I belong | I give myself, I give myself to youI give myself away, so you can use me… I give myself away.[1]

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer (Ps 19:14, NASB).


My life is not my own. To You, I belong. I give myself, I give myself to You. Those words have some weight. We’re not saying we’ll give God some of us; we’re saying we’ll give God all of us.

The hymn is not titled, “I Surrender Some,” but “I Surrender All.” We aren’t to only give our time, our talent, and our treasure; we are to give our very selves.

I thank God for the opportunity to stand before you this Youth Sunday, realizing that I am not quite as young as I used to be. You know, I’ve got to that point where, on holidays, one is actually expected to give gifts.

Giving Gifts

When I was younger, holidays were all about receiving. If Christmas was coming up, I’m like, “Dad, what are you getting me for Christmas?” If my birthday was coming up, I’m like, “Mom, what are you getting me for my birthday?” If Mother’s Day was coming up, I’m like, “Dad, what are we getting Mom for Mother’s Day?”

See I had it all worked out. On Mother’s Day, I would ask my Dad to help me buy something for my Mom. On Father’s Day, I would ask my Mom to help me buy something for my Dad. Little did they know, that they were basically buying presents for each other. But, I’m sure it warmed their hearts to get a gift from their son.

Similarly, Christian author C.S. Lewis writes of a child who asks his father for a few coins to buy his father a present. The father does so. But as Lewis points out, the father is no richer for the transaction. He’s just getting back what he’s already given. Nonetheless, it warms the father’s heart to get a gift from his child.[2]

Re-gifting Gifts

My brothers and sisters, it’s crucial to understand that everything we have is a gift from God. Our time is a gift. Our talent is a gift. Our treasure is a gift. Our life is a gift from God. Every breath we take is because of God’s grace – God’s unmerited favor.

And, we are to respond to God’s grace with faith (faithfulness). We have to faithfully give back what God has already given. And it warms our Heavenly Father’s heart, to get gifts from His children.

Thanks be to God, all who are faithful to Christ have the right to become children of God (Jn 1:12). If we are truly King’s kids, we must respond to Christ’s royalty to Christian loyalty. If we claim that Christ is King, we are not the kings or queens of our own lives. If we claim, “Jesus is Lord”, we are not the lords of our own lives.

We are not to serve at the pleasure of the self; we are to serve at the pleasure of the Savior. We are to give everything – to the One who gave us everything.

This is the radical call of Christian discipleship. As Jesus says in Mark 8:34 (NIV): “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” As one author puts it: if we are following Christ, Christ comes first.[3]

Context (Mk 8:29-33)

In context, Jesus speaks about the cost of Christian discipleship right after Peter’s great confession. Christ asks His disciples in Mark 8:29, “Who do you say I am?” This is the “central question” of the Gospel of Mark[4] – and the central question of life. Peter replies, “You are the Messiah” (Mk 8:29b, NIV).

This confession is a turning point[5] that splits the Gospel of Mark in half.[6] In the first half, Jesus is traveling around and outside of Israel; in the second half, he heads right to the heart of Israel – right to Jerusalem, right to the cross.[7]

At this pivotal point, as we read in Mark 8:31 (NIV) Jesus “…then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again” (cf. Is 52:13-53:12).[8]

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus has already rebuked the stormy seas, saying “Peace be still” (Mk 4:39).[9] He’s already walked on water (Mk 6:48).[10] He’s already driven out demons (Mk 1:32-34, 39; 5:6f.; 7:29-30; etc.). He’s healed the sick (Mk 1:29-34, 40-44; 2:10-12; 3:5, 10; 5:30-33; 6:5, 56; 7:31-37; 8:22-25).[11] He’s claimed to forgive sin (Mk 2:10),[12] He’s claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath (Mk 2:27-28),[13]

He’s raised the dead (Mk 5:38-42). He’s even fed over four thousand people (Mk 8:1-9)[14] with a Lunchable (with some fish and chips!). So, Peter is likely thinking: this Guy has power. This Guy has authority. This Guy is the One we’ve been waiting for – the Anointed One.


As you may recall, Christ or Christos (Χριστός) is the Greek word that translates the Hebrew term, “Messiah”.[15] Messiah (מָשִׁיַח | māšîaḥ) means “anointed one.”[16] Back in the day, anointing entailed being set apart and empowered to achieve God’s purpose (Ex 29:7,21; 1 Sam 10:1, 6; 16:13; Is 61:1).[17]

In the Old Testament, the prophesied Messiah is depicted as a great King, in the line of King David, who would establish God’s reign on earth forever (2 Sam 7:11-16 cf. Ps 2:7-12; Jer 23:5).[18]

Thus, in the first century, many Jews were expecting a Messiah who would set them free from their earthly oppressors.[19] They were looking for an overpowering hero who, with God’s power, would drive the hated Romans out of Israel, establishing a new, everlasting kingdom.[20]

Ancient Jewish writings expressed the hope of such a conquering Messiah very graphically. One writing said the Messiah would “purge Jerusalem from Gentiles,” “smash the arrogance of sinners like a potter’s jar”, and “shatter their substance with an iron rod” (from Psalms of Solomon 17:21-25).[21]

Another writing said the Messiah would “redden the mountains with the blood” of His enemies.[22] They were looking for a warrior who would shed the blood of their enemies, not a Lamb (cf. Jn 1:29) who shed his blood for His enemies (cf. Rom 5:10).

Son of Man

Furthermore, although “Son of Man” can simply mean “person” as it often does in the Old Testament, Jesus is likely using the term as a divine title. In the book of Daniel 7, the prophet writes of a vision of the Son of Man.

In verse 13 he says, “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Dn 7:13-14, NIV).[23]

Later, in Mark 14, the high priest asks Jesus point blank: “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” (Mk 14:61b, NIV). Jesus replies, “I am… and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Mk 14:62, NIV).[24]

You see, Jesus uses the same language as Daniel and gives Himself the divine title, “Son of Man”. This is why He’s condemned for blasphemy (Mk 14:63-64).

Messianic Misunderstanding

I say all that to say, since Jesus affirms that He is the Messiah and that He is the Son of Man,[25] who is supposed to have an everlasting kingdom, one can understand why Peter is confused.[26]

Peter likely even thinks he’s doing the right thing by correcting Jesus.[27] In verse 32 (Mk 8:32, NIV) we read that Jesus, “spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside to rebuke him.”

Now could you imagine trying to rebuke the Savior of the world?

But how many of us have ever tried to tell God what He ought to do?[28] Like we know better? Do we sometimes have a flawed understanding of who Jesus is? Do we sometimes misunderstand the will of God? Do we serve the God who made us in His image, or a false god we have made in our own imagination?

Maybe we shouldn’t be too hard on Peter. Given the common, messianic thinking of his day, he might have had dreams of triumphant victories, cheering crowds, and royal robes.[29] But Peter is mistaken.

Similarly, we might think that following Christ means we’ll be delivered from all of our earthly problems[30] – that we’ll triumph in all of our earthly endeavors, that we’ll attain all of our earthly desires. But we also would be mistaken.

Peter has the right answer, but he has the wrong understanding.[31] In contrast to conquering, Jesus starts talking about suffering (cf. Mk 9:31, 10:33-34).[32]

Back in the day, no one thought Israel’s promised Messiah would suffer.[33] We know that Isaiah 53 says, “…he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Is 53:5, NIV).[34] It seems clear to us that this refers to Jesus, the Messiah.

However, nowhere in ancient Jewish writings do we find the Messiah being associated with the Suffering Servant of Isaiah (Isaiah 42, 49, 51, 52-53).[35] So, for Peter, and many others Jews during that time, a suffering Messiah would be a contradiction in terms.[36] It would sound like nonsense.

Messianic Correction

So, Jesus has to correct Peter and the others concerning the true mission of the Messiah.[37] As we know, many times, half-truths are more dangerous than blatant falsehoods – because half-truths are more easily believed.[38]

As it’s been said, “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong; it is knowing the difference between right and almost right.”[39]

Peter is almost right. Jesus is the Messianic King, He is the divine Son of Man, but He is also the Suffering Servant.[40] Christ is the One Whom they expect, but He does not come how they expect.[41]  They wanted a conqueror; but they got a carpenter.

Peter knows who Jesus is, but not why Jesus has come.[42] For Peter, the death of the Messiah is “unthinkable”; For Jesus, it’s “inevitable.”[43]

Rebuking Satanic Logic

Now because Peter opposes Christ’s mission to the cross, in that moment, he becomes Christ’s opponent or adversary. In Hebrew, “adversary” is the meaning of the word, Satan (שָׂטָן | śāṭān).[44]

Anyone who opposes the will of God, becomes an adversary of God (cf. Mk 4:15).[45] They are doing the work of Satan[46] – the ultimate adversary.[47]

So, after Peter rebukes Jesus, Jesus rebukes Peter.[48] In Mark 8:33 (NIV), He says, “Get behind [ὀπίσω | opisō)] me, Satan! …You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Now, I’ve never served in the military or in law enforcement, so y’all correct me if I’m wrong: people of lower rank usually don’t give orders to their commanding officers, right?

Also, I’m no parent, but I’m sure parents can remember a time when their child got out of line (I know my parents can). And when children get out of line, a good parent is likely going to proceed with a reorientation of their child’s estimation of the situation. In other words, they might knock some sense into them (I know my parents did).

It’s funny because I appreciate the spankings now. They weren’t punishing me, just to punish me. They punished me to correct me (cf. Pr 3:11-12; 13:24; Heb 12:6). And, if my parents didn’t correct me, I might’ve gotten into all kinds of trouble. As they say, we’ll understand it better by and by.

But my point is that Peter is out of line. And Jesus likely does not rebuke him just to rebuke him.[49] This is not rejection, this is correction.[50]

He has to change Peter’s perspective.[51] He tells Peter to get behind Him – to fall back in line, following His orders (cf. Mk 1:17).[52] He’s putting Peter in his place – the rightful place of anyone who claims to follow Jesus – behind Christ.[53]

For if we are following Christ, Christ comes first.


To truly follow Jesus, one has to do more than call Him by the right title.[54] In Mark, even demons call Jesus the “Son of God” (Mk 3:11).[55]

And, as it’s been said, “A wrong view of Messiahship leads to a wrong view of discipleship.”[56]

So, now, Jesus is going to explain the true meaning of following Him,[57] describing the conditions of Christian discipleship.[58] Then, He will elaborate on the “consequences of true or false discipleship.”[59]

Mark 8:34

Verse 34 begins, “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples” (Mk 8:34a, NIV).

He has just rebuked Peter in front of the disciples, but now he summons the entire crowd.[60] Not just the disciples, everybody’s about to get a lesson in Discipleship 101.[61]

After telling Peter to get behind Him, in the Greek text, He more literally says, if anyone desires to follow behind [ὀπίσω | opisō][62] me, they must deny themselves, carry their cross, and follow me (Mk 8:34b, AT).

Deny Oneself

But what does it mean to deny oneself?

Interestingly, this is the same word (ἀπαρνέομαι | aparneomai) used when Peter denies Christ three times (Mark 14:30-31, 72).[63] Peter renounces Christ, Christ wants us to renounce ourselves.[64]

Denying oneself is not merely giving up our guilty pleasures – like giving up chocolate or sugar for Lent.[65] It’s not necessarily living as a monk,[66] it’s not self-starvation, it’s not self-hatred.[67]

The phrase literally means, “to say ‘No’ to oneself.”[68] More metaphorically, it means, “to refuse to think about what one just wants for oneself.”[69] It means declining to follow any natural inclination that is contrary to Christ.[70]

It entails reorienting our priorities,[71] putting God’s will before self-will.[72] As one scholar writes, “It is to renounce your claim to yourself – desires, ambitions, personal goals—and to submit to Christ as his [servant].”[73] We must say, “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

Our culture is so engrossed with self-fulfillment,[74] and self-interest and self-determination. We Americans love autonomy don’t we? We want to do whatever we want, whenever we want, and however we want to do it. We love independence; and don’t we hate when someone tries to tell us how we ought to live?

Society tells us to just “do you”. Scripture says, act just (cf. Mc 6:8), and “do right” (cf. Is 1:17; Rev 22:11 cf. Rom 13:3; 1 Pet 2:14).

Arnold Schwarzenegger says, “Trust yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks.”[75] Proverbs says “Trust in the LORD will all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Pr 3:5).

Society says, “follow your dreams”. Jesus says, “follow Me”.

To Christ, we have to surrender our self-determination,[76] our self-sufficiency, and our selfish ambition.[77] If we bow to the Author of all life, He must have complete authority of our lives.[78]

Many of us are self-centered; our lives revolve around us. Christ calls us to shift our life’s center of gravity from the self to the Savior.[79] While the world encourages us to be selfish; Christ wants us to be selfless.[80]

Take Up Your Cross

How much does Jesus want us to deny ourselves? To the point of taking up our own cross.

I was walking out of a business earlier this week and the manager’s pre-school aged daughter asked what I was wearing around my neck. I said, “This is a cross.” Then she asked, “What’s a cross?”

She was smiling and running around and having fun, and I just didn’t have the heart to say: “Well, in the Roman empire, crucifixion was the most humiliating and excruciating form of public execution.”[81] It’s a heavy subject.

Romans would decapitate people, burn others alive, and even throw others into the Coliseum to be devoured by wild animals.[82] But only rebels[83] and slaves – the lowest of the low in the eyes of Rome – were crucified.[84]

Moreover, the cross was a symbol of the oppression of the hated Romans – the most visible image of their terror.[85] It served as a grave warning to any who would dare oppose the mighty Roman Empire.[86]

To carry one’s cross refers to how those condemned to die would carry the horizontal beam of the cross (the crossbar)[87] to the place they would be crucified (cf. Mk 15:21; Matt. 27:32; Luke 23:26; John 19:17).[88]

As the person walked to the site of their death, they were often surrounded by a mob that would hurl insults at them.[89] Then, they’d be nailed to the crossbar, hoisted up on the vertical beam, and exposed until they died.[90] The Romans wanted to maximize shameful publicity[91] and pain.[92]

So this is a striking metaphor; carrying a cross meant marching to execution.[93] Jesus is telling anyone who wants to follow Him that they must deny their own self-interest – even to the point of death[94] – the most shameful death of their time.[95] And, if Christ died for the Gospel, it only makes sense that following His lead can also lead to dying for the Gospel.[96]

According to church tradition, except for John, all of Jesus’ disciples died for the faith. Many Christians around the world are still dying for the faith even today.

Data from the Pew Research Center[97] and studies by the University of Notre Dame[98] suggest that Christians are persecuted in more countries than people of any other religion. In fact, across the globe, more of our brothers and sisters are dying for the faith than at any other time in the last 2,000 years.[99]

Just a few months ago, on Resurrection Sunday, ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombings of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka that targeted Christians. On the most important Christian holiday, over 300 people were killed.[100]

In certain Middle Eastern countries, when someone asks to join an underground church, they ask two questions: (1) “Are you willing to be persecuted for Christ? (2) Are you willing to die for Him?”[101]

Thanks be to God, in America, we typically do not have to worry about such persecution. And Christ is not saying that all of His followers are literally going to die for the faith (cf. Lk 9:23).[102]

But whether metaphorically or literally,[103] carrying one’s cross means death and shame (cf. Heb 12:2)[104] – in sacrificial service to Christ.[105] As they say, Christ wants us to be ride or die.

Follow Christ

The final “follow me” in this verse is in a present, continuous tense. Thus, true discipleship is not merely coming up to the altar one day and saying, “I want to give my life to the Lord.” It is an ongoing, constant commitment[106] – to actually give one’s life to the Lord.

Following means “accompany[ing] someone who takes the lead”.[107] Following Christ means Christ comes first. Jesus takes the lead. Ever play the game, “follow the leader”? Well, in the game of life, we have to follow Christ our leader.

In obedience,[108] we have to walk like Jesus, talk like Jesus, and think like Jesus.[109] Doing so may allow us to avoid pitfalls in life.

I’m a suburban boy, born and raised. I don’t know much about subways and one-way streets and parallel parking. But, I’m currently living in Philadelphia, and learning a little more about life in a city.

Previously, I would see cars in front of me swerving in the road. And, I’d be wondering, “Gee, why are all these cars swerv—” <running over a pothole noise>.

“Oh, that’s why they were swerving. Because there’s a three-foot pothole in the road… And now my tire is flat.” But, ff we’re following Jesus, maybe we can avoid some potholes on the road of life.

God has given us the gift of life, and on the road of life, we have to let Jesus take the wheel. We can’t be backseat drivers.[110]

But isn’t it so tempting to type in our own GPS coordinates, decide where we want to go, and then ask God for traveling mercies? Isn’t it tempting to ask God to bless the plans we made – without Him? Isn’t it tempting to treat God like a Fairy Godfather – SomeOne we call on when we need help getting to where we want to go?

My brothers and sisters, if we follow our heart, our heart comes before Christ. If we follow our dreams, our dreams come before Christ. But if we follow Christ, Christ comes first.

As the old saying goes, we can’t put the cart before the horse.

Mark 8:35

Now since Jesus is talking about following Him even to death, it’s unsurprising that many would rather not go that route. Many would rather protect and preserve their earthly life, than lose it for Jesus.[111]

But in verse 35, He says: For whoever desires to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for my sake and for the Gospel will save it (Mk 8:35, AT). Again, the tense is continuous: meaning whoever continually desires to save their life will lose it.[112]

Now there is some wordplay in this verse as multiple terms have multiple meanings.[113] Basically, those who want to spare themselves the persecution and shame that comes with following Christ, and therefore save their earthly life, will actually lose out on eternal life.

On the other hand, those who literally or metaphorically lose their earthly life by following Christ, will be saved and have eternal life.[114]

This is the so-called, “divine paradox”.[115] In order to have spiritual life with Christ, we must die to self[116] – yielding our lives in loyalty to Christ.[117] We are to give up our self-centered plans and give ourselves to God’s service, spreading the Gospel[118] (cf. Mk 10:29).[119]

In our human thinking, this “divine logic”[120] sounds so backwards. But as Miss Clara said in the movie, War Room, “There is not room for you and God on the throne of your heart. It’s either Him or you. You have to step down! If you want victory, you have to surrender…”[121]

Mark 8:36

Verse 36 says: For what benefit is it for a person to gain the whole world and lose their soul?[122] (Mk 8:36, AT).

In our modern world, sometimes we act like whoever dies with the most toys wins.[123] But we know, when life is over, we can’t anything with us.

We can have worldly success, worldly fame, worldly riches.[124] We can reach all of our personal goals, fulfill all of our personal dreams, and we can check off all the boxes on our personal bucket list. But, in the end, what good is it if we lose our soul in the process?

It’s “no good”;[125] we gain nothing (cf. 1 Cor 13:3).[126] Therefore, it is wise[127] to be willing to lose our lives for Christ and for the Gospel. For gaining eternal life is more valuable than anything this world can offer.[128]

Mark 8:37

Verse 37 says: For what can a person give in exchange for their soul? (Mk 8:37, AT). Once again, the obvious answer is, “nothing!”[129]

Exchanging any amount of temporary wealth for one’s eternal soul is a bad deal.[130] The soul is the most valuable thing a person has;[131] nothing we have could ever pay for it.[132]

And, if we lose our souls by refusing to follow Christ, nothing we gain in this world can compensate[133] or buy it back.[134] No matter how much money you have; you can’t buy eternal life[135] – it’s priceless (cf. Ps 49:7-9).[136]

Mark 8:38

Verse 38 says: For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels (Mk 8:38, AT).

Ashamed of Christ’s Words?

Nowadays, many biblical commands are considered old-fashioned or worse. Many of us might prefer a Bible with perforated edges, so we can tear those pages we don’t like.[137]

But, in the words of Augustine, “If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”[138]

I say that to say, regardless of what society says, followers of the Savior cannot be ashamed or embarrassed by Christ’s words.[139]

Moreover, we cannot conceal our loyalty to Him in order to avoid public shame.[140] For do we value the approval of people over the approval of God (cf. Gal 1:10)?[141] Earthly shame is a small price to pay for heavenly honor.[142]

Spiritual Adultery

Now as it often does in the Old Testament (Is 1:4, 21; Ezek 16:32; Hos 2:2-6; Is 57:3-13),[143] here “adulterous” (μοιχαλίς | moichalis) refers to spiritual unfaithfulness[144]  – to spiritual disloyalty.[145] If we put anything before God, we are being unfaithful.[146]

Even in our human relationships, we know that people can say one thing and do another. With our mouths, we can vow to be faithful. We can tell God, “I do.” But it doesn’t matter much unless we are continually faithful in our actions.

I can’t tell my wife, “Baby, I’m going to be faithful” and then go and do my own thing on Saturday nights. That wouldn’t go over well. And, we can’t do our own thing most days, and only be faithful on Sunday mornings.

If we say we’re going to be faithful to Christ, we actually have to be faithful – daily (cf. Lk 9:23).

Earlier in Mark, Jesus quotes Isaiah saying, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Mk 7:6b, NIV).[147]

Being ashamed of Christ does not merely refer to one’s inward emotions, but to one’s outward actions.[148] We can claim to know God, and yet deny Him by our actions (Ti 1:16 cf. 1 Jn 2:3-6).

In Matthew 7, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 7:21, NIV).[149]

In other words, as it’s been said, we gotta “walk it like we talk it.”[150] We have to give God loyal service – not lip service.


“Generation” here primarily refers to the people of Israel who were rejecting Christ.[151] However, the word also refers to people who share common characteristics.[152]

Therefore, the same warning extends to any group of people who reject Christ and thus rebel against God.[153]

Son of Man — the Judge

Now we’ve already seen that Jesus is not only the Messianic King, and the Suffering Servant, but also the divine Son of Man (Dn 7:9-10, 13-14).[154] And at the Second Coming, the Son of Man will come with all authority – to judge[155] (cf. Mk 13:26; 16:62; Matthew 24, etc.)[156] (cf. 2 Cor 5:10; Ac 17:31).

On Judgment Day, the Son of Man will separate His faithful sheep from the unfaithful goats (Mt 25:31-32).[157]

Those who deny Him on earth, He will deny in Heaven.[158] But those who do not deny Him on earth, He will not deny in Heaven. Justice will be served.[159]


Wholehearted, Unconditional Discipleship

Therefore, we ought to serve the Lord. But before we say we want to follow Christ, we have to read the fine print.[160] We rave about God’s unconditional love. And, rightfully so! But, God desires “unconditional discipleship”.[161]

Discipleship is not some hobby that we do in our spare time.[162] Christ wants us to give our whole lives to following Him.[163] We have to be more committed to Christ than to anything or anyone in this world.

We may have perfect attendance in school. But how is our attendance to the word of God? We may get straight A’s, but what would our spiritual report card look like? We may get a promotion at work, but are we promoting the spread of the Gospel?

Do we spend more time on the internet or watching TV than studying and praying? Do we spend more money on things we don’t need than on ministry that the whole world needs? Do we spend more effort on our plans than on God’s plan of salvation?

Christ can’t play second fiddle to sports and recreational activities. Christ can’t take a backseat to our worldly dreams and aspirations. We have to ask ourselves, is our personal passion more important than the Passion of the Christ?

There’s only room for one on the throne of our heart, and no one can serve two masters (cf. Mt 6:24). God doesn’t want half-hearted devotion; He wants to us be lovingly devoted to Him – with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength (cf. Mt 22:37; Dt. 6:5).

Therefore, we must deny ourselves, carry our cross daily, and follow Christ (cf. Lk 9:23).[164] In the words of Billy Graham, “salvation is free; but discipleship costs everything we have…”[165]

For many, such a cost is too high. Many would rather try to preserve their life and their self-determination. But ironically, seeking to preserve our earthly lives in this way, leads to losing out on eternal life.

On the other hand, literally or metaphorically losing our lives for Christ, and for the gospel, leads to eternal preservation.

Worldly pleasures and possessions are so fleeting.[166] Running after such temporary things is not worth losing one’s eternal soul.

If we are ashamed of Christ, Christ will be ashamed of us on the Day of Judgment. But if we follow Christ in suffering and self-denial, we will also follow Christ in being resurrected and glorified. In all this, Jesus sets the example (cf. Rom 8:17);[167] we just have to follow the Leader.

Lie: You Deserve It; Truth: God Deserves It

Now one of the worst lies this world tells us is this: “You deserve it.”

You’ve worked hard, you deserve to splurge. You deserve to spend money on your own leisure and pleasure (cf. Jas 4:2-3). You deserve to live life however you want.

But, in all actuality, we don’t deserve anything; God deserves our everything.

Because everything we have – our time, our talent, our treasure – is a gift from God. Every second of life we have is because of God’s grace – God’s unmerited favor.

We are to respond to God’s grace with faithfulness. We have to give back what God has already given. And it warms our Heavenly Father’s heart, to get gifts from His children. And He deserves it!

The song goes, “My Hallelujah, belongs to you.”[168] And it says, “All the glory, all the honor, all the praise… You deserve it.

But we can also say, “All my time, all my talent, all my treasure… You deserve it.” We should use our God-given gifts not for our glory, but for God’s glory.

If we can speak, we should be speaking for the Lord; if we can serve, we should be serving for the Lord (cf. 1 Pet 4:10-11). If we can sing, we should be singing for the Lord. If we can dance, we should be dancing for the Lord.

If we can rap, we should be rapping for the Lord. And since I used to be a rapper, let me try to wrap this up:

Rap / Spoken Word

Right from birth I was scorned-within
Adorned-with-sin, but I’m glad I’m born again
My relationship with God used to be worn-and-thin
But I’m sworn-to-Him, there’s sun where the storm-had-been

Inform-ya-kin about His Amazing Grace
With my poetic praise I try to raise-the-place
Fire shut up in my bones at a blazing-pace
And we are not of this world like rays-in-space

They made the case for Christ and delivered the verdict
He bled, hung, and died, everyone in town heard-it
Hours-of-pain, but they were not hours-in-vain
Because of His sacrifice His mercy is ours-to-gain

He was resurrected he rose on the third-day
My heavenly home’s erected that’s just what the word-say
In the worst-way, His message you could-use
I’m alive in Christ and I’m telling the Good-News

But it’s wrong to think that this walk has no-cost
Nowadays everybody wants to be their own-boss
But Christ tells us we gotta bear our own-cross
If we don’t, I’m afraid it’ll be our own-loss

Used to do my own thing, man I thought I was so-smart:
Giving lip service; but given God no-heart
Had selfish ambition like, “this might-just-work!”
But following Christ, means Christ-comes-first

We’ll go through trials, they’ll be times-to-cry
But we gotta stay firm, not just slidin’-by
Gotta give it all, gotta be ride-or-die
And we’ll understand better — by-and-by

We can’t pay to be saved; We can’t stack-the-odds
Gotta be faithful, not just all-talk
For there’s only one way to get back-to-God
To cross that road, we gotta take the cross-walk ✝

My brothers and sisters, we’re at a crossroads. There’s essentially two paths (cf. Psalm 1). The way of the lost, and the way of the cross.

Many times in our God-given life, like Peter, we may have in mind only human concerns, not the concerns of God. When that’s case, we have to get behind Jesus and, with the power of the Holy Spirit, follow Him continually.

And if we’re following Christ, Christ comes first.

May the LORD bless you and keep you.

Greek Text (UBS5)

34 Καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τὸν ὄχλον σὺν τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Εἴ τις θέλει ὀπίσω μου ἀκολουθεῖν, ἀπαρνησάσθω ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀράτω τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀκολουθείτω μοι. 35 ὃς γὰρ ἐὰν θέλῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ σῶσαι ἀπολέσει αὐτήν· ὃς δʼ ἂν ἀπολέσει τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ καὶ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου σώσει αὐτήν. 36 τί γὰρ ὠφελεῖ ἄνθρωπον κερδῆσαι τὸν κόσμον ὅλον καὶ ζημιωθῆναι τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ; 37 τί γὰρ δοῖ ἄνθρωπος ἀντάλλαγμα τῆς ψυχῆς αὐτοῦ; 38 ὃς γὰρ ἐὰν ἐπαισχυνθῇ με καὶ τοὺς ἐμοὺς λόγους5 ἐν τῇ γενεᾷ ταύτῃ τῇ μοιχαλίδι καὶ ἁμαρτωλῷ, καὶ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐπαισχυνθήσεται αὐτόν, ὅταν ἔλθῃ ἐν τῇ δόξῃ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ μετὰ6 τῶν ἀγγέλων τῶν ἁγίων.3

Author’s Translation

I structured my translation this way to make the chiastic structure of v. 35-384 more apparent.

34 And having summoned the crowd, along with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone desires to follow behind me, they must deny themselves, carry their cross, and follow me (continually):

  • 35 For whoever (continually) desires to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for my sake and for the Gospel will save it.
    • 36 For what benefit is it for a person to gain the whole world and lose their soul?
    • 37 For what can a person give in exchange for their soul?
  • 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels


Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, Walter Bauer, and F. Wilbur Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Balz, Horst Robert, and Gerhard Schneider. Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990–.

Brooks, James A. Mark. Vol. 23. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1991.

Bock, Darrell L. in Turner, David, and Darrell L. Bock. Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 11: Matthew and Mark. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2005.

Cole, R. Alan. Mark: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 2. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989.

Cole, R. Alan. “Mark.” In New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, edited by D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, and G. J. Wenham, 4th ed., 946–77. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.

Doyle, Tom. Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World? Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition, 2012.

Edwards, James R. in Burge, Gary M., and Andrew E. Hill, eds. The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012.

Edwards, James R. The Gospel according to Mark. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2002.

English, Donald. The Message of Mark: The Mystery of Faith. The Bible Speaks Today. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992.

Evans, Craig A. The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: Matthew–Luke. Edited by Craig A. Evans and Craig A. Bubeck. First Edition. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2003.

France, R. T. The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2002.

Garland, David E. Mark. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996.

Garland, David in Arnold, Clinton E. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.

Jennings, Mark. “Mark, Lecture 14, Yeast, Blindman, Peter’s Confession (Mark 8:14-9:1)”. BiblicalELearning.org. April 20, 2016. http://biblicalelearning.org/new-testament/mark/ or https://youtu.be/eLkL89zj11I .

Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Kernaghan, Ronald J. Mark. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007.

Lane, William L. The Gospel of Mark. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1974.

Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. New York: United Bible Societies, 1996.

Mounce, William D. Basics of Biblical Greek: Grammar. Edited by Verlyn D. Verbrugge. Third Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009.

Schnabel, Eckhard J. Mark: An Introduction and Commentary. Edited by Eckhard J. Schnabel. Vol. 2. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. London: Inter-Varsity Press, 2017.

Silva, Moisés, ed. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014.

Stein, Robert H. Mark. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008.

Strauss, Mark L. Mark. Edited by Clinton E. Arnold. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014.

Thayer, Joseph Henry. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Being Grimm’s Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti. New York: Harper & Brothers., 1889.

Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996.

Water, Mark. The New Encyclopedia of Christian Quotations. Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd, 2000.

Witherington, Ben, III. The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2001.

[1] Lyrics from “I Give Myself Away” by William McDowell, As We Worship Live, 2009.

[2] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis Signature Classics), © 1942, (HarperCollins. Kindle Edition, 2009), 61.

[3] Inspiration from this title comes from this Instagram post from The Gospel Coalition: https://www.instagram.com/p/BylQbsGFRN2/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link . I did not listen to the podcast, but the visual post got my creative juices flowing.

[4] James R. Edwards, The Gospel according to Mark, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2002), 249.

[5] Donald English, The Message of Mark: The Mystery of Faith, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 158.

[6] “This passage serves as a hinge between the first half of the Gospel, where Jesus’ power is so prominent, and the second half, where his weakness becomes predominant.” Garland NIVAC, 323.

[7] James Edwards in Gary M. Burge and Andrew E. Hill, eds., The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012), 1029.

[8] “The New Testament writers interpreted some Old Testament texts as referring to the Messiah’s suffering, but most Jewish people in the first century did not recognize these texts as referring to the Messiah, who was to reign as king. Most Jewish people believed in the resurrection of all the righteous dead at the end of the age, and the inauguration of a kingdom under God’s appointed ruler afterward.” Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Mk 8:32.

[9] Edwards, 253 cf. Garland NIVAC, 325.

[10] Edwards, 253.

[11] Garland NIVAC, 325.

[12] Edwards, 253.

[13] Edwards, 253.

[14] Garland NIVAC, 325.

[15] Edwards, 249.

[16] Edwards BIBC, 1030; English, 158; Edwards, 249.

[17] English, 158.

[18] Edwards BIBC, 1030; Edwards, 249.

[19] English, 158.

[20] Cole NBC, 964; Edwards, 250.

[21] As quoted by Garland NIVAC, 323 cf. Edwards, 251.

[22] “How fine is the King, the Messiah, who will arise from those of the house of Judah! He girds his loins and goes forth and sets up the ranks of battle against his enemies and kills the kings together with their commanders and no king and commander can stand before him. He reddens the mountains with the blood of their slain and his garments are dipped in blood…” from the Targum Yerushalmi on Genesis 49:11 as cited in Garland NIVAC, 326.

[23] English, 160.

[24] Cf. William L. Lane, The Gospel of Mark, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1974), 310..

[25] “It may also be noted that neither the Servant of Yahweh nor Son of Man concept in the OT is associated with messianic connotations.” Edwards, 250.

[26] Cf. Edwards, 255.

[27] Edwards, 255.

[28] R. Alan Cole, “Mark,” in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, ed. D. A. Carson et al., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 964.

[29] Cf. Garland NIVAC, 325.

[30] “…Peter is no different from all his fellow Jews in looking for an earthly, military deliverer.” English, 161.

[31] Edwards BIBC, 1030.

[32] Edwards BIBC, 1030 cf. Garland NIVAC, 321; English, 160; Edwards, 252; Ben Witherington III, The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2001), 242.

[33] Edwards BIBC, 1030.

[34] Cf. Cole NBC, 964.

[35] Edwards BIBC, 1030; Edwards, 250. Also “the disciples did not grasp that Jesus was not only the Son of Man and the Messiah, but also the suffering servant” Darrell Bock in David Turner and Darrell L. Bock, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 11: Matthew and Mark (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2005), 471.

[36] Keener IVP.

[37] Garland NIVAC, 321.

[38] Edwards, 255.

[39] A popular quote of Charles Spurgeon (e.g., https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/reviews/thats-good-recovering-lost-art-discernment/ ).

[40] Mark Jennings, “Mark, Lecture 14, Yeast, Blindman, Peter’s Confession (Mark 8:14-9:1)”, BibleELearning.org. April 20, 2016. http://biblicalelearning.org/new-testament/mark/ or https://youtu.be/eLkL89zj11I .

[41] Garland NIVAC, 324

[42] The question shifts from “Who is Jesus?” to “What has God sent him to do?” David E. Garland, Mark, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), 321.

[43] Edwards, 255.

[44] Edwards BIBC, 1031; Keener IVP; Edwards, 255.

[45] R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2002), 338. Cf. “Peter was acting the part of Satan and tempting Jesus to go against the specific divine will that Jesus must go the route of the cross.” Witherington, 241.

[46] Cf. Cole NBC, 964. “To think in human terms—when human terms conflict with the things of God—is no longer to be disciple of Jesus but a disciple of Satan.” Edwards, 255.

[47] Keener IVP.

[48] Witherington, 243.

[49] Though some would argue that also calling Peter “Satan” indicates, “the fiercely negative tone of Jesus’ counterrebuke.” France, 338. Also, “It is intriguing that the very same phrase οπισω μου occurs in both v. 33 and v. 34. In the first instance, when coupled with a strong verb, it means “get behind me” or even “get out of my sight,” but in the second case it means what it normally means elsewhere in Mark, namely, “after me,” which, when coupled with the verb “to follow,” means “to follow after me” (i.e., “be my disciple, follow my example”) or even “get in line behind me.” Witherington, 243-244.

[50] “Jesus’ stern rebuke is a teaching tool, not a rejection of Peter. In the Qumran literature, chastisement by God was considered to be a requisite for spiritual growth and something for which to be grateful to God. Harsh censure was considered appropriate in the case of recalcitrant students.” David Garland in Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 256.

[51] “The disciples need to see Jesus’ life and mission in the new light of his passion prediction.” Eckhard J. Schnabel, Mark: An Introduction and Commentary, ed. Eckhard J. Schnabel, vol. 2, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (London: Inter-Varsity Press, 2017), 201–202.

[52] Cf. Garland NIVAC, 327.

[53] Keener, IVP.

[54] Garland NIVAC, 327.

[55] Cf. Edwards, 249.

[56] Edwards, 256; cf. R. Alan Cole, Mark: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 2, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989), 210.

[57] Garland NIVAC, 327.

[58] Mark L. Strauss, Mark, ed. Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 371. Cf. Robert H. Stein, Mark, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 405. Cf. Cole, 210; Schnabel, 202; France, 339.

[59] Strauss, 371.

[60] Cole, 211.

[61] Cf. “By calling the crowd Jesus indicates that the conditions for following him are relevant for all believers, and not for the disciples alone.” Lane, 306. Cf. James A. Brooks, Mark, vol. 23, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1991), 137 Cf. Bock, 473; France, 339; Witherington, 244.

[62] “ὀπίσω G3958 (opisō), backward, behind, after (adv. used also as prep.);” Moisés Silva, ed., New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDNTTE) (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 522. Or “come after” cf. Darrell Bock in David Turner and Darrell L. Bock, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 11: Matthew and Mark (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2005), 472. Garland ZIBBC, 256.

[63] NIDNTTE, 399 cf. France, 340.

[64] Strauss, 372.

[65] France, 340 cf. Stein, 406; Cole NBC, 965.

[66] Brooks, 137; Bock, 472.

[67] Brooks, 137.

[68] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 355.

[69] Louw-Nida, 355-356. Cf. “It requires the denying or saying no to the self as the determiner of one’s goals, aspirations, and desires.” Stein, 407. Cf. losing sight of “one’s own interests.” Joseph Henry Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Being Grimm’s Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti (New York: Harper & Brothers., 1889), 54. Cf. France, 340.

[70] Cole NBC, 965.

[71] Bock, 472.

[72] Brooks, 137.

[73] Strauss, 372.

[74] Cole, 211.

[75] USC Commencement Address, 2009. https://speakola.com/grad/arnold-schwarzenegger-rules-successful-usc-2009

[76] Schnabel, 202.

[77] Strauss, 372.

[78] Cf. Schnabel, 202.

[79] Lane, 307. “God refuses to accept a minor role in one’s life; he requires a controlling place.” Garland NIVAC, 327.

[80] “to act in a wholly selfless manner.” William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (BDAG) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 97.

[81] Cf. Garland NIVAC, 328.

[82] Schnabel, 203.

[83] “The cross was not merely an instrument of death. It was a way of executing people who were considered to be a serious threat to the rule of Roman law.” Ronald J. Kernaghan, Mark, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007), 162.

[84] Roman citizens could be crucified for high treason, too. Schnabel, 203. Cf. Edwards, 256; Strauss, 373; Witherington, 244; Garland NIVAC, 328.

[85] Edwards, 256; Garland BIBC, 1031.

[86] Strauss, 373.

[87] Called a patibulum. Schnabel, 203.

[88] Schnabel, 203; Lane, 307; Straus, 373. “It is worth noting that Plutarch reminds us that “Every criminal who is executed carries his own cross” (De sera 9.554b).” Witherington, 244. Cf. Garland ZIBBC, 256; Garland NIVAC, 328; Keener IVP.

[89] Keener, IVP.

[90] Schnabel, 203. Cf. “The victim would then be tied or nailed (cf. John 20:25; Col 2:14) to the cross and allowed to slowly die from exposure, festering wounds, and asphyxiation. Death on a cross could take many days. The body would often be left as carrion for birds or dogs, which increased the shame, since an honorable death required burial in one’s ancestral tomb.” Strauss, 373.

[91] France, 339.

[92] Strauss, 373.

[93] Lane, 307; France, 339.

[94] Schnabel, 203; Strauss, 372; France, 339; Garland NIVAC, 328.

[95] Schnabel, 203. “Cicero described crucifixion as a cruel, disgusting penalty, the worst of extreme tortures inflicted on slaves and something to be dreaded.” Garland NIVAC, 328.

[96] Bock, 473.

[97] https://www.pewforum.org/2018/06/21/harassment-of-religious-groups-hits-highest-point-since-2007/

[98] https://ucs.nd.edu/report/introduction/

[99] Tom Doyle, Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World?, (Thomas Nelson, Kindle Edition, 2012), 44-45.

[100] https://time.com/5576053/isis-sri-lanka-easter-attack-responsibility/

[101] Doyle, 11.

[102] Strauss, 372. Cf. “That the primary meaning here is metaphorical and not literal is evident from Luke’s adding “daily” in his parallel (9:23) and by the fact that 8:38 assumes that the Christian community will continue to exist until the parousia.” Stein, 407.

[103] “…his followers have to be willing to risk their lives, literally,…” Schnabel, 203 cf. Brooks, 137; Witherington, 244.

[104] Stein, 407.

[105] Brooks, 137.

[106] “An example that shows the importance of these distinctions is Jesus’ words to his disciples: “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). “Deny” and “take up” are undefined [aorist] while “follow” is continuous. The aspect of “deny” and “take up” does not tell us anything about the nature of those actions except that they are to occur. But the aspect of “follow” emphasizes that the commitment to discipleship involves a continual action, which in this context is a day to day action.” William D. Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek: Grammar, ed. Verlyn D. Verbrugge, Third Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 127. “Mark 8:34b      Εἴ τις θέλει ὀπίσω μου ἀκολουθεῖν, ἀπαρνησάσθω ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀράτω τὸν σταυπὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀκολουθείτω μοι. If someone wishes to follow after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and (continuously) follow me.” Fredrick J. Long, Kairos: A Beginning Greek Grammar (Mishawaka, IN: Fredrick J. Long, 2005), 230. Cf. Bock, 472; “Thus the ‘act’ of denying oneself and taking up one’s cross is followed by the process of following Jesus.” Stein, 407.

[107] BDAG, 36.

[108] Garland, 328.

[109] “Although not defined in the Gospel, Mark’s readers would have thought that [following Jesus] meant keeping Jesus’s teachings (both those mentioned in the Gospel and those known to them via the oral tradition), experiencing the initiatory act of baptism, sharing regularly in the breaking of bread, keeping the moral teachings of the OT, faithfully confessing the lordship of Jesus (Matt. 10:32–33/Luke 12:8–9), proclaiming the gospel to all nations (13:10; Matt. 28:18–20; Luke 24:46–49), and so on.” Stein, 408.

[110] I thought of this illustration and then Googled “backseat driver”. Then, I found that a Christian artist, Toby Mac, had literally wrote about song (“Backseat Driver”) using this metaphor.

[111] Bock, 473; France, 340.

[112] “ ὃς γὰρ ἐὰν θέλῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ σῶσαι ἀπολέσει αὐτήν (Mark 8:35). ‘For whoever continually wishes to his life will lose it.’ It is difficult to bring out the aspect of the subjunctive verb in translation. One way is to use the key word “continue” with the present subjunctive. If you cannot translate this way, be sure to emphasize the aspect in your teaching and preaching.” Mounce , 289.

[113] Schnabel, 204; Bock, 472. E.g., “The word for “life” (Gk. psychē) can simply mean physical existence (e.g., Acts 27:37), but its more common and important sense is that of “personhood,” “being,” or “soul,” that is, the core of one’s existence that is not limited to boundaries of time and space.” Edwards, 257. Cf. Stein, 408; Strauss, 373; France, 340; Witherington, 245.

[114] Schnabel, 204; Bock, 473; Edwards, 257; Stein, 408.

[115] Cole, 211 cf. Lane, 308. “Whoever wishes to be his disciple must renounce their own ambitions and follow Jesus wholly, even to the point of death. Paradoxically, to lose one’s life for Jesus and for the gospel means to gain true life.” Strauss, 370 cf. Bock, 472; Witherington, 245; Garland, 328.

[116] Cole , 211.

[117] Lane, 308; Strauss, 373.

[118] Cole, 211.

[119] “The text shows that a disciple’s allegiance is to the person Jesus and to God’s Gospel, his Good News, at the same time (10:29). They are interrelated.” Bock, 472.

[120] Schnabel, 201.

[121] As quoted in https://www.prayerleader.com/resources/prayer-guides/war-room/

[122] “The word translated “life” (psychē) in v. 35 is sometimes translated “soul,” as in vv. 36–37 of the NIV. Generally, when people read or hear the word “soul,” they think in Greek terms of an independent element in  human nature that is separate from the physical body. This is not a biblical concept. The biblical emphasis in the word is on the wholeness and oneness of the person or self. Therefore “life” is the best translation, and it ought also to be used in vv. 36–37, as in the RSV, NRSV, GNB, and REB. Of course, more is involved than mere physical life, and that probably is why some translations revert to “soul” in vv. 36–37.” Brooks, 137-138 cf. Bock, 472.

[123] Kernaghan, 163.

[124] Schnabel, 205.

[125] “ὠφελέω G6067 (ōpheleō)… to help, benefit, be of use, accomplish… and it will do us no “good” to gain the whole world if in the process we forfeit the soul (Matt 16:26 par. Mark 8:36; Luke 9:25).” NIDNTTE, 746, 748.

[126] NIDNTTE, 748.

[127] “Because life is worth more than the world itself, giving one’s life in this world to gain it in the world to come is a wise transaction (cf. 2 Baruch 17:2–3; 51:15–16);…” Keener IVP.

[128] Cf. Stein, 409; France, 341.

[129] Stein, 409.

[130] Evans, 325.

[131] “It is no use securing the lordship of the world and all its powers if one’s life is forfeited (ζημιόω G2423).” NIDNTTE, 667; Strauss, 374.

[132] “‘what would a person give as a means of exchange for his life?’ or ‘… in payment for his life’ Mk 8:37.” Louw-Nida, 573. “’What can a man give in return for his (lost) life?’ i.e., in order to trade it in again. The answer: nothing.” EDNT, 107.

[133] “What will one give in exchange for his soul? there is nothing that would compensate for such a loss Mt 16:26; Mk 8:37.” BDAG, 86. “The implication is that ‘there is nothing that would compensate for such a loss.’ Although the question appears to be asking whether such an exchange is possible, it is really an indictment against gaining the world and losing one’s life in the process.” Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 467. Cf. Lane, 309; Bock, 472; Edwards, 258; France, 341.

[134] Stein, 409; Strauss, 374; Edwards BIBC, 1031; Garland NIVAC, 328.

[135] Cf. Schnabel, 205.

[136] Lane, 309; Bock, 472; Edwards, 258; Stein, 409; Strauss, 374; France, 341; Witherington, 245; Craig A. Evans, The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: Matthew–Luke, ed. Craig A. Evans and Craig A. Bubeck, First Edition (Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2003), 325; Keener IVP.

[137] https://babylonbee.com/news/new-bible-perforated-pages-announced

[138] Mark Water, The New Encyclopedia of Christian Quotations (Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd, 2000), 436–437.

[139] “The subjective sense of embarrassment or fear of ridicule seems to be conveyed by the compound ἐπαισχύνομαι in all of its occurrences, most of which involve a contrast with boldness in confessing the faith (Mark 8:38 par. Luke 9:26; Rom 1:16; 2 Tim 1:8, 12, 16…” NIDNTTE, 183

[140] Schnabel, 205.

[141] “To win the favor of the world and its despots means to lose the favor of heaven. To win the favor of heaven means to lose the favor of the world.” Garland NIVAC, 329.

[142] France, 342.

[143] Schnabel, 204; Lane, 310. Cf. Jer 3:6-9; 13:27; Brooks, 138; Bock, 472; Edwards, 258; Strauss, 374; Garland Edwards, 1031.

[144] “LXX term μοιχαλίς 7× (Matt 12:39; 16:4; Mark 8:38; Rom 7:3 [2×]; Jas 4:4; 2 Pet 2:14). As in the LXX, the word group is sometimes used fig. of unfaithfulness to God.” NIDNTTE, 331 cf. Lane, 310; France, 342.

[145] NIDNTTE, 332.

[146] The Church is the bride of Christ (Eph 5:27 cf. Is 62:5, etc.); to put anything else before Him is spiritual adultery.

[147] Edwards, 259.

[148] Stein, 410.

[149] Stein, 408.

[150] The hook from a popular song by Migos.

[151] “② the sum total of those born at the same time, expanded to include all those living at a given time and freq. defined in terms of specific characteristics, generation, contemporaries.” BDAG, 191 cf. Strauss, 374.

[152] BDAG, 191 cf. Strauss, 374.

[153] Schnabel, 205.

[154] “The biggest difficulty for the disciples must have been the problem of how to join all these different concepts in one and to relate them to the Jesus before them.” Cole, 212. Cf. Evans, 325; Keener IVP.

[155] Cole, 212; Lane, 309; Bock, 473; Stein, 410; Strauss, 374; Witherington, 245.

[156] Cf. Schnabel, 206.

[157] Garland NIVAC, 328.

[158] Schnabel, 206.

[159] “This retribution is an instance of jus talionis, that is, ‘justice of kind [or equal measure].’ Elsewhere in Jewish and in rabbinic sources we hear the maxim: ‘whatever you measure out to others will be measured out to you’ (cf. Matt. 7:2 = Luke 6:38; Mark 4:24; m. Sota 1:7; Frag. Tg. Gen. 38:26).” Evans, 325.

[160] Garland NIVAC, 321.

[161] NIDNTTE, 206.

[162] Garland NIVAC, 327.

[163] English, 161.

[164] As it’s been said, “No cross, no crown.” Cole NBC, 964; Cole, 211.

[165] Billy Graham, “Scars of Battle” (1955) as quoted at BillyGrahamLibrary.org, “In His Own Words: Scars of Battle”, May 13, 2017. https://billygrahamlibrary.org/in-his-own-words-scars-of-battle/

[166] Evans, 325.

[167] Lane, 306-7. Cf. Garland NIVAC, 321. Cf. “If the Messiah must suffer, so must his followers.” Brooks, 137.

[168] J. J. Hairston and Youthful Praise, “You Deserve It”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjPehgvSLH0


  1. Image from https://faithbaptist-mv.org/ministries/young-adults/
  2. https://www.academia.edu/7110653/Poetry_and_the_Bible_-_An_Introduction_Lecture_Notes_
  3. Barbara Aland et al., eds., The Greek New Testament, Fifth Revised Edition (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2014), Mk 8:34–38.
  4. Stein, 405
About @DannyScottonJr 241 Articles
Imperfect Servant ✝📖⛪ | Husband | Princeton U. Alum | M. Div. | Assistant (to the) Pastor | Sound Doctrine & Apologetics @catchforchrist