“To Die or to Die”
“Quit stalling! Get him!”
Tadd’s friends had made a deal—a dare each guy had to do to keep hanging with their group. The test started out as a joke. One by one Tadd’s friends had done the deed and passed.
Now it was Tadd’s turn to beat someone up for no reason—other than to join the group, that is. His friends got to choose whose head he would turn inside out. They picked Pat.
“He won’t even fight back,” they reminded Tadd. “He’s a wuss.”
Tadd more or less agreed with them. Pat played the flute. He was strange. He walked, talked, and giggled like a girl. But Tadd had known Pat since kindergarten. He didn’t deserve this. But now a bunch of people were waiting for Tadd’s first punch.
Read Mark 8:31–38
What did Jesus say was the toughest thing about following him?
When you choose to follow Jesus, you might get caught between a rock and the Rock (Isaiah 26:4). If you ignore the demands of your friends, you face humiliation and rejection. Yet if you do wrong—abusing yourself, others, and Jesus—you know God will be less than thrilled.
Either way you die. So what’s the use of picking sides? Jesus bluntly told his disciples that obeying God’s plan would mean he would be mocked and killed on the cross. He was still determined to obey God.
And Jesus said that anyone devoted to him must imitate him. Deny oneself and take up the cross. Swap your way for his way—totally. Obey him even when it hurts—even when you feel like you’ve been pierced with nails and all you can do is twist in pain.
Daring to stick with Jesus sometimes feels like you’ve been hung up to die. Tough stuff. But Jesus promises that his way leads to life.
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.” MARK 8:34”