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The Real Proof

• Greg Boyd

What is the real evidence of a disciple of Jesus? Too often today we are told that followers of Christ are marked by success, happiness and power. However, the Bible points to a different evidence, that of love that comes under others and serves.

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What does it mean to be a true follower of Christ? What is the proof that one is a disciple? Greg explains that the real proof may not be what most people expect.

In this passage, Jesus is challenged three times to save himself. People in Jesus’ time assumed that the true messiah would use his power to save himself. This is very similar to how the devil tempted Jesus to prove he was the Son of God by using his power in Luke 4. There Jesus was challenged to satisfy his hunger after fasting for 40 days, to save the world by bowing down and worshipping Satan, and to prove that he was the Son of God by putting himself in danger so angels would protect him. The demonic pattern assumes that the proof of God is found in the use of power to get what you want, protect yourself and perform beneficial works for the crowds.

By contrast, Simon of Cyrene is forced to carry the cross for Jesus, walking behind Jesus. He exemplified the nature of discipleship and shows that as a disciple of the true messiah, you carry a cross behind him. The Satan-inspired pattern assumes the proof of the Kingdom is found in winning, by protecting ourselves and getting what we want. The Simon pattern assumes the proof of the Kingdom is that we’re willing to sacrifice ourselves in service to others.

The Satan-inspired pattern assumes we prove we belong to God by gaining “power over” others to get our way. The Simon pattern assumes we prove we belong to God by exercising “power under” others. This is the power that changes hearts by sacrificially serving people, the power of the cross.

Understanding the Satan-inspired pattern helps explain why history is a river of bloodshed. We can’t all get our way, so when our way or the way of our tribe conflicts with others and their tribe, a fight ensues and that supposedly will prove whose god is the true (or at least stronger) God.

This Satan-inspired, violent way of thinking is still around, even in the church! All over we find the temptation that the proof that we are on God’s side is that things go our way. We are on the side winning wars and conquering people. We are the ones getting rich. Rather, the real proof that we are on the side of the true God is that we carry our cross like Simon and follow Jesus. We crucify ourselves daily and do NOT insist that we get our own way. We are putting God’s interests and the interests of others ahead of ourselves.

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Topics: Discipleship, Faithfulness, Non-Violence, Politics

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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 23:26-27, 32-39

    As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him.

    Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

    The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God's Messiah, the Chosen One."

    The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself."

    There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

    One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

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6 thoughts on “The Real Proof

  1. Lindy Combs says:

    This sermon is quite a wake-up call. Pastor Greg truly nailed it.

  2. Anita Avers says:

    I treasure Greg’s grasp and articulation of the kingdom of Christ However, as a therapist, I see how often “service” to others is driven by co-dependent, enabling presures that create chaos and injuries. In this sermon, Greg made passing mention of the importance of accountability. This speaks to the balance of emotional healthy spirituality for effective service. Without this balance, I find people compromise truth for mercy or compromise mercy for truth. I think including these distinctions, when presenting a powerful message motivating service is only responsible.

  3. Vince Jacobs says:

    Another great Sermon – they just keep coming.

    A major challenge we have as Christians is divorcing our commitment to Christ versus our political views. The only way is to become wholly ‘a-political’ that is to say, totally disengaged from the political debate. Any softening on that principal draws you away from Christ like behaviour and into the arms of ‘power over’ politics.

  4. Lilly Green says:

    A challenging sermon, but how does this apply practically to those who feel called to serve in the political arena? And how far does servant response take a family or a nation when security and even life is threatened?

  5. Hey Lilly — great questions. I think different people at Woodland would have different perspectives on both those questions, and I don’t think there are any easy answers. Greg’s written about them on his personal ministry web site though; check them out if you’re interested:



  6. Nicole says:

    It’s so easy to be in your head instead of in your heart. Yes, I mean exclusively – being in both at the same time is the ideal. How many do that, I wonder? Still, it’s easier to be in your head than in your heart, imho. (This is in response to previous messages, not to the sermon.)

    Good point, Vince! You stop thinking in political terms and find a Jesus perspective.

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