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Scripture

Mark 8:30-36

Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you. Spend some time in worship.

 

 

Observation

Peter had just made his declaration of faith that Jesus was the Christ. He had the courage and the wisdom to declare what he recognised in Jesus. In saying this Peter stated that he believed Jesus was the ‘anointed one’, the Messiah, for whom the Jewish nation had waited so long. Matthew’s account of this event records Jesus telling Peter that God had revealed this truth to him (Matthew 16:17-19). But the Jews had a distorted image of who the Messiah actually, believing that he would arrive in triumph and overthrow their Roman rulers.
Jesus took the opportunity to explain to His followers exactly what He had come to do as the Messiah. He had come to suffer, be rejected and die, but then He would rise again. In this way, in His death, He would take on the burden of humanity’s sin against God and, in His resurrection, express God’s supreme love for humankind.
This was a shock to His disciples. It was unthinkable that their long-awaited Messiah would undergo such treatment. They believed that the Messiah would smash His enemies. It was too much for Peter who couldn’t handle the idea of a suffering Messiah. So he stepped forward to reassure Jesus that this was not the case. Peter believed he had once again heard from God and that he was right and Jesus was wrong. However what he said to Jesus did not line up with the OT prophecies about the Messiah. Jesus stopped him in his tracks. Jesus knew that Satan was using Peter to try to divert Him from His mission. Peter was not aware he was being Satan’s spokesman. He had merely allowed the ideas of men to guide his words to Jesus, rather than the plans of God.
Jesus continued that not only He would suffer and be put to death, but those who followed Him would also have to deny themselves and take up their own cross. The cross was a one-way trip. All Jesus’ listeners would have known this. Denying oneself did not mean giving something up for a short period of time for some good reason. Denying oneself means completely surrendering ourselves to Jesus and resolving to follow His will in all areas of our lives. In this way the Christ-follower would be focused on God and other people more than on themself.
It is only by this complete surrender that those who follow Christ can become the person God intends them to be. Just as a seed needs to be buried in the ground and take on the form of the plant it is to become, so we need to surrender ourselves to God in order to fulfil our potential in Christ. If we do not do this, we may gain the whole world, but what good will that do us? Those who live in the way Jesus describes are those who are truly happy. Surrendering to Jesus does not take our life away – it adds to it.

Icebreaker:

Have you ever felt you should do something for someone but really did not want to? Did you walk away or did you do it in the end? What helped you to make your decision? What happened? How do you now feel about the situation that resulted?

Application

THE COVENANT PRAYER
I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
exalted for you, or brought low for you;
let me be full, let me be empty,
let me have all things, let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven

  • Read through the Covenant prayer again. How do you feel when you say these words to God? What is the greatest challenge for you in this Covenant? Why is that so?
  • Look up and read the following: Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 2:20; 2 Timothy 2:11.Do you see these verses being revealed in your life? What makes you respond in this way? How do you feel about your response?
  • Dying to self recurs – it is not just a once-off event. When have you been aware of surrendering to God’s way rather than persisting with your own desires? What happened?
  • Dying to self cannot be done in half measures. What holds you back from surrendering completely to God? Or what drives you forward to accomplish tasks in your own strength? How could things changed if you surrendered it all to Jesus? (eg your energy levels, the possibility of not succeeding, the joy of doing your best for God but letting Him show you what that best is?)
  • What would it mean to you to have more family time, enjoy recreation that feeds your soul, be a good friend? Does the thought of this type of life help you with the concept of surrendering everything to God?
  • How does this change your feelings (if at all) about the Covenant prayer and the challenges it presented at the beginning of this session?
  • How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session?

Prayer
Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time, and in regard to other needs of the group.

Service
Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time, and in regard to other needs of the group.

Bibliography

Mark Chapter 8

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