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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


Come and Die

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:34,35, NIV)

When the disciples first met Jesus, He gave them an invitation to come and see (John 1:39). The journey of discipleship ultimately brings you to the place where Jesus says, “Now that you have seen, come and die.”

The death He speaks of is not necessarily martyrdom, although it may include that.

The history of Palestine in the Roman era carried memories of insurgents who were nailed to crosses as punishment for their acts of rebellion. Perhaps many in the audience that day may have initially thought Jesus was calling them to take up weapons against the occupying power.

We know differently, of course. Jesus was not inviting people to bear arms. Instead He asks four things:

1. To come after Him. This means you relinquish leadership in your own life and follow His direction.

2. To deny self. We live in a day that focuses on self-fulfillment. Jesus calls you to divestment and relinquishment.

3. To take up your cross. Some people say of a difficult circumstance or a relative who’s hard to live with: “Well, that’s my cross to bear.” That’s not the cross Jesus is talking about. Rather, the cross is something you endure solely because of your loyalty to Christ.

4. To follow Him. Little did the disciples or the crowd at that moment know that following Him meant going to Golgotha. But, ultimately, after the cross our itinerary leads to resurrection and eternal life. We follow Him all the way to glory!

During one of the battles of the American Revolution, a general quoted from Thomas Gray’s poem, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” that says, “The paths of glory lead but to the grave.” Jesus taught and exampled for us that the paths of glory lead from the grave! That’s why He talks to us about losing our lives rather than saving them.

Here is where the martyrs help us understand. Why did a recent pastor in a country lay down his life for Jesus — why didn’t he just deny the Lord and save his life? Or why did another pastor not take up an opportunity when he was given a chance to deny Jesus with his words even if he did not deny Him in his heart?

It’s because these martyrs knew that human death was not the end. Jesus is waiting on the other side of death — just as He was when the first Christian martyr, Stephen, died. Jesus stood to greet him on heaven’s shore (Acts 7:56).

What do self-denial and cross-bearing mean if you are not a martyr? You are faced with choices every day. Will you choose a more enjoyable path, a sinful act or disobedience over what Jesus wants from you? Do you choose self-fulfillment over doing His will?

Jesus says that sooner or later our choices catch up with us and those choices have eternal consequences.

Come and die is the pathway through which we come and live!

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, I would like everything to go the way I want it to. But I’m faced with choices between doing my own thing or what You want me to do. I want with all my heart to follow You and embrace whatever difficulty comes my way as a result of serving You.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

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2013 On Your Mark

2012 On Your Mark

2011 On Your Mark

2010 On Your Mark

2009 On Your Mark

2008 On Your Mark

Podcasts of On Your Mark are available in video and audio.
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