34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life2 will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone 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.”
ONE OF THE CORE PURPOSES OF MARK'S GOSPEL IS TO HELP HIS READERS UNDERSTAND AND ACCEPT THE CALL TO TAKE UP THEIR CROSS AND FOLLOW JESUS. THIS CALL IS ADDRESSED NOT ONLY TO THOSE WHO WOULD BE JESUS' APOSTLES (MARK 3:13-14) BUT TO ALL WHO DESIRED TO FOLLOW HIM (MARK 8:34), FOR SOME, THE CALL TO DISCIPLESHIP IS VERY HARD (MARK 10:24), BUT GOD PROVIDES GRACE (MARK 10:27). OTHERS FINDS IT EASY TO RESPOND TO JESUS' CALL (MARK 2:14-15).
FOR EVERYONE, FOLLOWING JESUS REQUIRES A TOTAL COMMITMENT TO TURN FROM SELFISH WAYS (MARK 8:34-35). TAKING UP ONE'S CROSS IS A METAPHOR FOR GIVING UP ONE'S LIFE TO FOLLOW JESUS EVEN TO DEATH, AS ILLUSTRATED BY JESUS' CRUCIFIXION. FOR EXAMPLE, PETER, ANDREW, JAMES, AND JOHN LEFT THEIR HOMES AND THEIR SOURCE OF INCOME TO FOLLOW JESUS (MARK 1:16-20). FOR A RICH MAN, TURNING FROM HIS SELFISH WAYS REQUIRED SELLING ALL HE HAD AND GIVING THE PROCEEDS TO THE POOR (MARK 10:21,28). FOLLOWING JESUS ALSO MEANS BEING IDENTIFIED WITH HIM WITHOUT BEING ASHAMED AND BEING FAITHFUL TO JESUS AND HIS TEACHINGS (ROM 10:9). IT REQUIRES REMOVING ANYTHING THAT WOULD INTERFERE WITH FOLLOWING JESUS, REGARDLESS OF HOW PAINFUL DOING SO MIGHT BE (MARK 9:43-48). IT REQUIRES ENTRUSTING ONE'S LIFE ENTIRELY TO JESUS AND REPENTING OF SIN (MARK 1:15). IT EVEN REQUIRES PUTTING LOYALTY TO JESUS ABOVE LOYALTY TO ONE'S OWN FATHER AND MOTHER (MATTHEW 10:37). JESUS EXPLICITLY COMMANDED HIS DISCIPLES TO PROCLAIM HIS MESSAGE, AS RECORDED ELSEWHERE (Acts 1:8). JESUS AND THE APOSTLES, THROUGH THEIR TEACHING AND EXAMPLE, CALL JESUS’ FOLLOWERS TO PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS WHENEVER THEY MAY BE (Acts 2:14-42; ROM 1:1-16; 1 COR 9:16; 2 TIM 4:2).
ALONGSIDE JESUS' DEMANDS FOR DISCIPLESHIP ARE THE REWARDS OF FOLLOWING JESUS, THOSE WHO FOLLOW JESUS ARE PROMISED ENTRANCE INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD. THEY RECEIVE HIS FORGIVENESS FOR THEIR SINS, AND THEY BECOME MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY OF GOD. THEY ARE SAVED FROM JUDGEMENT AND OBTAIN ETERNAL LIFE (MARK 9:43).