Job descriptions are important. Not only do they tell us what were are supposed to be doing, but they are also used for performance reviews which are tied to raises. No small thing! Jesus gives a job description for Christians in Mark 8:34, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (NIV) Every job has an element of self-denial. You don’t get to show up whenever you like and do whatever you want. You have to show up on time and do what you were hired to do. Every job requires us to follow someone. We all have a boss or bosses and if we don’t follow them we won’t have a job for long. Or we have customers and if you don’t follow them then you’ll be out of business. But the cross is a seemingly odd way of describing a disciple of Jesus. It would have been especially strange for the first disciples to hear Jesus talk about taking up their cross since they did not fully understand that Jesus would die on a cross and then be raised from the dead. For us today, the cross often a mere symbol of the Christian faith. However, the Roman cross was a inhumane killing tool. It’s purpose was to publicly torture someone to death ... slowly. Prisoners were forced to literally carry their cross beam to the place of their execution, through the city streets for all to see. The motivation was powerful – This is what happens when you are disloyal to Rome! The cross was such a terrible way to die that Romans were forbidden from executing their own citizens with it. And this is the imagery Jesus used to describe the job of His followers.
But, Jesus gives reasons to take Him up on His job offer. Mark 8:35-37, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (NASB) You may have picked up on the repetitive use of the word “for.” Jesus is linking all these arguments to the call to discipleship. He understands that what He is asking is not going to be easy, so He gives us two big reasons to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him: 1. We cannot hang on to this life or that which we might acquire during our time on this planet, but if we give our lives to Jesus we will have eternal life. 2. It would be a bad deal to trade our soul for even the best stuff this world has to offer since stuff is of far less value than soul.
Jesus is offering you a job with out of this world benefits; will you take it?