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An Invitation to Discipleship | If Anyone Would...
March 6, 2022
24Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
Throughout the season of Lent we are going to explore what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Disciples were common in the first century. They were people who would oftentimes literally follow behind their master and learn from them. This is what Jesus and the New Testament writers have in mind when they use the term ‘disciple’. Jesus is our attending physician and he knows how life works best. We are called to be attentive to him, to learn from him, and to follow after him. In this series, we will look at the passages where Jesus says, “If anyone…”, as an invitation to follow Jesus in our lives and in our world. This week we’ll discuss how Jesus’ invitation to follow him involves a gospel offer, demand, and incentive.
To discover and experience Jesus Christ in our midst
To cultivate mutually encouraging relationships
To participate in God’s mission to the world
Mighty God, pour out your Holy Spirit on all of us gathered here. Open our hearts, that we might be filled with your goodness and your love. Live in us, that we might bear the life of Christ for all to see. Overshadow us with your presence, that we might truly be blessed and offer your blessing for the sake of the world. Amen.
Responsive Prayer—Psalm 91:9-16
9Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge—
10No evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.
11For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
12On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. .
15When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.
16With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
1. The Free Offer of the Gospel
The invitation that Jesus offers us, to follow him, is completely free. Before there is a demand to pick up your cross and follow, and before the incentives of following Jesus are given, there is the invitation “If anyone..”. We see in the life and ministry of Jesus that ‘anyone’ means ‘anyone’. Because Jesus' salvation is total in scope, because his life, death, and resurrection are given to us as a free gift, the gospel is a free offer to anyone: men/women, young/old, any race, any nationality, rich or poor.
- What are some accounts in Jesus’ life that show that his invitation to follow him is free and for everyone?
- One of the implications of the free offer of the gospel is that God’s love is not conditional, but it’s better than unconditional, it’s contra-conditional. This means God loves us despite who we are and what we’ve done. How ought this offer hope in our relationship with God and our relationship with one another?
- How does the free offer of the gospel make Christianity the most inclusive religion in the history of the world?
2. The Parable of the Half Dead Man
Even though the gospel is completely free it can never be cheap. It cost Jesus everything in order to free us from the reality, presence, and effects of sin. Jesus rescues us not to free us to do whatever we want but to follow him. This means being a disciple requires that we forsake lesser loves and loyalties
- In v.24, the first demand Jesus makes is that we deny ourselves. What does it mean to deny ourselves, and how does this differ from self loathing?
- Jesus’ next demand is that we crucify ourselves or take up our cross. How does this shape how we are to approach sin in our lives?
- Jason mentioned two powerful weapons in fighting the reality of sin: the power of the Holy Spirit and the Community of the Church. How ought we to think about the Holy Spirit and community as we take up our crosses?
- In v.25, Jesus says we are to lose our life in order to find it. Can you think of examples in your own life where this has been true? What (or who) was it that you found?
3. The Incentive of the Gospel
The gospel is absolutely free but following Jesus means losing ourselves in order to find a far more beautiful life in him.
Consider the quote from CS Lewis:
“Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end, submit with every fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find him, and with him everything else thrown in.”
- Why is giving ourselves so difficult? And how does focusing on Jesus' death on the cross free us to give up our idolatries and ambitions and follow him?
- What are ways in your daily and weekly lives that you look to Christ and his cross?
- Why does Jesus want you to give up chocolate for Lent? (just checking to see who made it this far in the study!!) But seriously, how does the season of Lent help us deny ourselves and look to Jesus?
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Go in hope and peace.
View Study Guide Notes
Question 1: You might recall from Jason’s sermon the illustration of someone being knocked unconscious lying at the bottom of the pool. They are completely helpless and in need of rescue. Jesus is the one who rescues us and breathes new life into us. The person at the bottom of the pool has nothing to do with their rescue. This is the work Jesus does on our behalf, and it provides the foundation for all that it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Our life is meant to be a response to the gift of salvation we have received in him.
Question 2: N/A
Question 3: N/A