How could I possibly deny myself? – Mark 8.31-9.1


In marks gospel this passage sits right after the “aha” moment. We are told in mark 1.1 that this is the beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah. Now in Mark 8.29 the disciples have caught up to the beginning. Everything to this point is pointed to Jesus as the messiah, the king. Now Jesus is going to show them what the Messiah has come to do. 


Jesus informs the disciples of his role to suffer, be rejected, to be killed, and to rise again. Peters response is to rebuke him. In his response I think we see the heart of sin. Jesus rebukes him in turn by first calling him, in reference to him still being enslaved to evil one. Then clarifies his rebuke further – 

You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” 8.33

Peter has walked with Jesus, seen him do amazing things and yet there is still more transformation needed for him. It is not enough that he has seen and can make logical assumptions but he needs a heart change. A reorientation from human concerns to those of God. 

Jesus goes on to preach to the crowd that had followed him. He extends the statement he has made about human concern vs the concerns of God. 

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it” 

When our lives are orientated towards ourselves, when our desires and concerns are pointing our own navel gazing then it is likely we get what we are looking for. However we won’t get Christ – we won’t be in him. We won’t be apart of his kingdom for we will be concerned with our own things not that of God. Paul picks up the same language in Philippians 2.21 of being concerned for ourselves not for Jesus Christ. 

Personal reflections 

Things are not implicitly evil but when we use them for our own concerns rather then that of Gods then they become evil. My generation has obsession with travel. To travel is to become human to be fulfilled. Travel isn’t bad and nor should people be shamed for it. The question is are we concerned with what God is concerned about when we consider travel or is it about human concerns. 

The same question can be asked of the stage of life I am entering where conversations about buying houses or house extensions have suddenly increased. Nothing wrong with either of these things in and of themselves. The rebuke of Jesus to Peter needs to be asked of that same situation. Do we buy into culturally acceptable navel gazing or are we gripped by the call of Jesus kingdom which will cost us for the good of the kingdom. 

I have more questions about these things then answers. What would look if our lives as Figtree church reflected the call to deny ourselves and follow Jesus. Their is a costliness to following Jesus. I feel I am drawn not to denying myself but fulfilling my desires. Then I will be fulfilled and content. Yet my desires clash with Jesus words. Surely the Christian life isn’t one of missing out all the time as well? Is our greatest problem that we don’t have enough here or that we don’t long enough for what is to come? Are we holding so tightly to the promises of Jesus that we could miss out on things and still be contented? Are we so overwhelmed by the love of Christ that we can show love and generosity to others even when it costs us? Is our hope held in the promise of the Messiah so that we are not hoping for the promise of others liking us leading to shame or fear of sharing the gospel? 

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About Myles Elton

I am a follower of Christ, a husband, a father of three, a pastor, a reader, a theologian, a friend, an observer of culture, a enjoyer of the beauty of creation, and in awe of all God has done and will do in this world.

One thought on “How could I possibly deny myself? – Mark 8.31-9.1

  1. Thank you Myles.I think when the Bible says to deny self its talking not just about the material things in life but also to deny ourselves in other ways as well. When I have been hurt by another person to deny myself of speaking against that person. To turn the other cheek rather than take matters into my own hands. I find this much more of a challenge than not being materialistic.
    I heard a quote from Billy Graham yesterday that said only 20% of any congregation has been born again. I hope that is not accurate. If it is we really need the Holy Spirit to move in peoples hearts.

    I think that God wants to do a new thing. And it starts from the front. He wants us to be more real with one another. When Julie Anne Jones prayed last Sunday night at Fuse that was very powerful. It is, or can be, part of us learning to keep our gaze upon Jesus. We really need to humble ourselves and lift our eyes to the only One who has it all together Jesus. Because we are all the same. Holy Spirit come.

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