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12. TO SAVE ONE'S LIFE AND TO LOSE IT (Mark.8:34-38)

BACKGROUND: Jesus mentions here the word "cross" for the first time. His words must surely have shaken his followers, because crucifixion was at that time the greatest shame and pain that anyone could imagine. A part of its ignominy was that the condemned person had to carry his own cross to the place of execution while the passers-by were mocking him. (Note that the words "life" and "soul" are the same word in original Greek.)
  1. Verses 34-38
    • What kind of life is considered worth living in our time? (In other words, what does it mean to save one's life and to lose it in the vocabulary of our contemporaries?)
    • To whom did Jesus address these words?
    • What might the people have been thinking about following Jesus before hearing these words? What about afterwards?
    • What kind of person do you think is willing to follow Jesus in these conditions?
    • If Jesus wanted to gain more followers, why did he give a speech like this?
  2. Verse 34 - to deny oneself
    • What did it mean in the life of the disciples to deny themselves?
    • What does it mean in your situation today to deny yourself in order to follow Jesus?
    • (Ask only in a Buddhist context: What is the difference between Christianity and Buddhism when it comes to the concept like "denying oneself".)
  3. Verse 34 - taking up one's cross
    • What do you think: does Jesus mean with "the cross" any kind of suffering or only suffering that comes as a consequence of Christian faith?
    • How would your life be without a cross?
    • Why doesn't Jesus allow any of his followers to go through life without a cross?
    • What difference does it make if the sufferer takes his cross from Jesus' hand, not Satan's, nor from other people, nor from blind fate?
  4. Verse 35 - to save one's life or to lose it
    • In what various ways do people try to rid themselves of their crosses?
    • Why is the person whose main goal is happiness, unable to become happy?
    • Where does the follower of Jesus find strength for carrying his cross?
  5. Verses 36-37 - losing one's soul, saving one's soul
    • For what kind of things would a person lose his life for?
    • What did Jesus pay in exchange for the souls of mankind?
  6. Verse 38 - being ashamed of Jesus and his words
    • What truths of the Bible do you find most difficult to say aloud while your non-Christian friends are listening?
    • Why is Jesus himself ashamed of the Christian who didn't have the courage to fight for the Word of God in this adulterous and sinful generation?
    • What happens to a person Jesus is ashamed of?
  7. Glad tidings' questions:
    • What does it mean to a cross-bearing Christian that Jesus has walked the same road before him, carrying his own cross?
    • Jesus had to lose his life/soul soon after these events. Why?

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