By Ray Jewell
Jesus strictly commanded them to tell no one of this, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”
Then He said to them all, “If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His own glory and in the glory of His Father and of the holy angels.
“But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:21-27
It has always amazed me that Jesus begins to teach about His death and resurrection soon after the Great Confession. It seems that He waited until the disciples were able to grasp who He was before He revealed to them the full extent of His mission. Of course, as we will see from here on out in Luke, they don’t fully grasp the need for Him to die. They don’t hear the part about rising because they are so astounded that He will die.
The climatic point in human history is what He is foretelling here. The cross and the resurrection changes everything. Yet, in a very real sense, Luke 9:23 is the climax for someone who would follow Jesus. Three steps are given by Jesus here.
First, deny yourself. Now that’s not easy, is it. In many ways we cannot deny ourselves, because if we deny ourselves sleep, food, shelter, clothing; the bare necessities of life, we cease to exist. But Jesus is talking about putting others first here.
Second, take up your cross daily. I don’t think I have to repeat this but the cross was and is an instrument of death, and not a pleasant death either. It may be Jesus is calling us to give up our pet habits or habitual sins. It may be He is calling us to sacrifice our desires to bring them in line with His desires for us.
Third, come, follow Me. This passage is one of many that cries out against an easy-believism or a cheap grace. This reminds me of the C. S. Lewis classic, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The character Eustace was a selfish prig throughout the story, so much so that he becomes a dragon. He tried and tried to rid himself of the dragon skin, but to no avail. It is only through Aslan’s ripping the skin off with His claws that Eustace is freed.
Each and every day should be a day of recommitting our lives to live for this King. It is only through our death that we have real life in Him.
Ray Jewell is a frequent guest on the Basic Bible Podcast, the director of the Janesville Community Center, teacher at Rock County Christian School and the author of the Ray’s Rambling Blog.