We are bombarded by advertisements every day of our lives—from the newspaper, bill boards, radio and television. Advertisements seek to peak our interest and stimulate us to buy what’s being promoted. Did you know that during the last two Super Bowl’s companies paid nearly 4 million dollars for a thirty second advertisement of their product? People get paid big money to come up with funny, catchy, and memorable ways to pitch their product to the masses. Let me ask you a question: “If you had thirty seconds, how would you advertise Christianity to the masses on Super Bowl Sunday?”
Today, we are going to look at how the Lord Jesus Christ advertised Christianity to the masses. His memorable advertising slogan is found in the Gospel of Mark chapter 8 with parallel accounts in Matthew 16 and Luke 9.
Mark 8:34-38. Then Jesus called the crowd to himself along with his disciples and told them, “If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow me continuously, 35 because whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the gospel will save it. 36 What profit will a person have if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? 37 Indeed, what can a person give in exchange for his life? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes with the holy angels in his Father’s glory.” (ISV)
Deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Jesus continuously; lose your life for Jesus and the gospel message and you will save it. Is this the advertising slogan you would have used to reach the masses on Super Bowl Sunday?
I doubt it. I think most people (Christian or Non-Christian) would think that this kind of message is too radical and too demanding to advertise to the masses. I would be curious to see how an advertising agency would pitch Christ’s message to the masses. What kind of slogan or jingle would they come up with? Here’s what I’m thinking:
“Follow Jesus, Lose it All, Imagine the Possibilities.”
Honestly, if this was the advertising jingle, I don’t see a lot of people asking, “Hey, where do I sign up?”
Now you and I may not have chosen deny yourself, pick up your cross, and keep on following Jesus as our advertising slogan for becoming a Christ follower and remaining a Christ follower, but the Lord Jesus Christ did. As a matter of fact, when I read through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—the biographies of Jesus), I discovered that this radical message proclaimed by Jesus was not some footnote to what he preached throughout his three year ministry. Jesus’ call for people to come after him, to deny themselves, to take up their cross, to follow him, to lose their life for the sake of him and the gospel message was proclaimed from the beginning to the end of Jesus’ ministry. Evidently, this message was important to Jesus and it needs to be important to us as well.
Tomorrow we will start to look at each part of Jesus’ teaching: deny self, pick up cross, and continue to follow. Hopefully, we will come away fully embracing his radical advertisement for becoming and remaining a Christ follower.
My two all-time favorite (and funny) Super Bowl commercials are for Walmart and Doritos and can be seen here: