In Feb 1885, seven young men in their twenties, known as the Cambridge Seven, set sail from England to China to join Judson Taylor as missionaries to the Chinese. The group leader is C.T. Studd, a very successful cricket player from a wealthy family. He sacrificed the fame of the sport to serve Christ. When he was in China, his dad died in London. He gave away all the inheritance from his father to support the Christian works of George Muller and DL Moody, except for 3400 pounds which he kept for his newlywed wife. His wife asked him, “what did the Lord tell the rich man to do?” He answered, “sell all”. The couple proceed to give the rest of the money after for the Lord’s work. Studd sacrificed his wealth to Christ. After ten years of ministry with a lot of hardship, Studd became very sick and had to return back to England. He sacrificed his health for Christ. However, when Studd heard about the need of the gospel in India, for the second time he set sail from England to Southern India to preach the gospel and pastor a church. After six years of ministry in very harsh conditions in India, once again C.T. Studd became very sick and had to return back to England. Studd sacrificed his fame, his wealth, and his health for Christ. Many of his family and friends think he has sacrificed too much for his faith.
Have you ever wondered whether it is worth sacrificing your time, money, and energy to prepare yourself to serve Christ? Have you ever wanted to give up seminary and ministry to do something else when money is tight? Maybe you are holding on to something that God wants you to sacrifice for Christ? Today, I want to exhort you with this truth: No sacrifice is too great for Christ. Again, no sacrifice is too great for Christ. Our text is Mark 1:1-20. Again, our text is Mark 1:1-20. We will look at three reasons why no sacrifice is too great for Christ.
Because it is our greatest honor to serve Christ
No sacrifice is too great for Christ. The number one reason is that it is our greatest honor to serve Christ. I get this principle from the life of John the Baptist. Please look at Mark 1:1-8 with me. John the Baptist was called by God to prepare the way for Christ. The call was prophesied by the prophet Isaiah 700 years ago: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”. John the Baptist was from a priestly family, but he gave up his predictable and comfortable life in response to God’s calling to prepare the way for Christ. Instead of living in the comfort of a house, he lived in the wilderness. Instead of wearing comfortable cloth, he was wearing coarse cloth made with camel hair. Instead of eating a regular Jewish diet with bread, fish and lamb, his food was locusts and wild honey.
Did John think he has sacrificed too much for Christ? No! Instead, John the Baptist felt it was his greatest honor to sacrifice for Christ. How do I know this? In Jesus’s time, untying the straps of sandals is one of the lowliest works any person can do. However, John proclaimed he is not worthy to even untie the strap of the sandal for Christ. It is like the president of the United States has come to a beggar on the roadside in Dallas and call him to sacrifice everything he has to serve him. It will be the greatest honor for the beggar to do so. The president does not need his service, but he has chosen the beggar to serve him. Brothers, each of us has sacrificed a lot to come to seminary. We have sacrificed worldly pursuits to serve Christ. We have put many hours into our studies while our friends are enjoying life. When ministry and life get tough, you may be tempted to think your sacrifice is too much. Brothers, never give up your call to serve Christ. We need to realize that you and I are like John the Baptist, unworthy to even tie the shoe strap of Christ. But God, by His grace, has called us to serve Christ. Therefore, no sacrifice is too great for Christ. It is our greatest honor to serve Christ.
Because we should follow Christ
The second reason no sacrifice is too great for Christ is that we should follow Christ. Look at verses 9 to 15 with me. Jesus of Nazareth has come to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. When Jesus came up from the water. He immediately saw the heavens opening and the Holy Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.” Mark introduced Jesus as the Son of God in verse 1. But now, suddenly Mark mentioned Jesus as Jesus of Nazareth of Galilee. Why do you think Mark emphasized Nazareth of Galilee? I think Mark wanted to tell us that Jesus came from Nazareth, a real place in Galilee. Jesus is not in heaven with the Father. He is on earth, incarnated as a man. Christ humbles Himself to come down on this earth in obedience to the Father. Christ has sacrificed His glory to serve God the Father.
Christ’s sacrifice can be further observed in the temptation He faced from Satan while He was in the wilderness for forty days. Jesus could have killed Satan simply by speaking His word. But He voluntarily restricted His own power. Jesus even needed the angels to minister to Him. Our Lord has exemplified a sacrificial life to serve God the Father. Many commentators agree that Mark 10:45 is the key verse of the book. It read “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
After John the Baptist was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee to preach the Gospel of God. We are called to be like Christ. Jesus has called each of you to follow Him, just like Jesus has called the disciples to follow Him. To follow Christ is to be like Him. Christ has sacrificed His glory to serve God the Father. If we want to be like Christ, we should be willing to sacrifice anything to serve Christ.
When I served the Lord in Guangzhou, China 10 years ago, I took the opportunity to visit Samuel Lamb. Who is Samuel Lamb? He is one of the Chinese home church leaders, a preacher of the Gospel, and a faithful servant of God. Because of his faith in Jesus Christ, he was imprisoned for over 20 years! Take a guess at what did he do with his life after he was released from prison in 1979 at the age of 54? He started a home church again. Thousands of Christians flocked to worship Christ weekly at the church. Samuel Lamb was willing to sacrifice all he had for God, following the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ. Brothers, I like you to examine your heart right now. Is there anything you know you should sacrifice to follow Christ but have not done so? Maybe it is a habit or hobby that is affecting your relationship with Christ and your witness for Christ. Maybe you watch too many movies and waste too much time on social media when you are supposed to develop your characters for Christ. Are you willing to take a step of faith to make the sacrifice to be more like Christ?
Because Christ will turn our sacrifice into something greater than we could imagine now
The third reason why no sacrifice is too great for Christ is that Christ will turn our sacrifice into something greater than we could ever imagine. Look at Mark 1:16-20 with me. After Christ preached the Gospel of God in Galilee, He started to call four fishermen to follow Him. He saw Simon Peter and his brother Andrew casting a net in the sea of Galilee. So, Jesus called them, “Follow me, I will make you fishers of men.” Simon and Andrew immediately left their net and followed Christ. After that, Jesus called James and John, who were mending nets in their boat. Both responded by leaving their Father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired servants and following Christ.
Fishermen are the middle class in Israel at that time. We are told John, and James’ family had servants who worked for them. So, their life can’t be too bad. They thought their future was set. They were going to be fishermen. But their life was changed upside down when Jesus called them to follow Him. James and John left their father to follow Jesus. They sacrificed their comfortable and predictable middle-class life to follow Jesus into a challenging and unpredictable life. But Christ promised He would change them from fishermen into fishers of men! How did they turn out? Did Jesus keep His promise? When we look at the rest of the New Testament and church history, we know Christ was faithful to His promise. All four of them became leaders of the early church. They became preachers of the Gospel. Many people were saved through their ministry. Peter became the leader of the twelve and one of the greatest evangelists ever. John wrote five New Testament books. Andrew preached the Gospel in Russia. James died in Jerusalem to witness Christ. All of them lived extraordinary lives as fishers of men.
A few of us were involved in Cru or Campus Crusade for Christ. The ministry was started by Bill Bright and his wife, Vonette in 1951. They signed a contract with God to sacrifice everything they had to follow Christ. 72 years later. Cru had ministries in almost all the countries in the world, and millions of people became followers of Jesus Christ through this ministry. Christ has turned Bill and Vonette Bright’s sacrifice into something far greater than they could have imagined in 1951. Brothers, when you are feeling pressure from your studies and ministry, don’t give up. When you are discouraged because of criticism from others, or a bad grade, or financial issues, or tiredness, don’t give up, press on! No sacrifice is too great for Christ because Christ will turn your sacrifice into something greater than anything you could imagine today.
After serving in China and India for a total of 16 years, many of CT Studd family and friends told him he had done enough for his faith and should spend the remaining of his life in England. He refused to listen to their advice, for Christ. When he heard about the great need for the Gospel in Africa, once again left the comfortable life in England and went to serve the Lord in central Africa for the next 20 years. He endured much hardship during those years and died there at age 71. C.T. Studd sacrificed his fame, fortune, and life for Christ. He and others laid the foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in China, India, and Africa. He once wrote: “If Jesus is God and He died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” “Only one life, it will soon pass; only what is done for Christ will last.” He inspired thousands of men and women to sacrifice their life for Christ. Brothers, no sacrifice is too great for Christ because it is our greatest honor to serve Christ, because we should follow Christ, and because Christ will turn our sacrifice into something greater than anything we could ever imagine today. I urge you to examine yourself today, to see what else you need to sacrifice, for our Lord Jesus Christ.