18 While he was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 They answered, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, that one of the ancient prophets has come back.” 20 “But you,” he asked them, “who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.” 21 But he strictly warned and instructed them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “It is necessary that the Son of Man suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day.” 23 Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it. 25 For what does it benefit someone if he gains the whole world, and yet loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and that of the Father and the holy angels. 27 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
Jesus said difficult, challenging and at times confusing things. As someone on staff at a church, that is a weird sentence to write, and maybe that was also a little weird to read. Yet challenging truths seemed to characterize Jesus’ ministry. Where the world wanted to Him to tone down His message, Jesus continued to speak boldly. If you think about it, Jesus’ words were always direct, telling us what we need to know to be His disciples. Jesus tells us the truth so we might live abundantly in a world that is not our home.
Nowhere is Jesus’ life-giving but difficult teaching clearer in the Bible than in Luke 9:18-27. Jesus was speaking to His disciples, knowing His own death was near. He didn’t give them instructions on how to make more money. He didn’t tell them the secret to being at harmony with themselves or how to always have people like them. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” To a first-century Jew, intimately acquainted with the torture instrument of the cross, Jesus’ words would have been horrifying.
The heart of Jesus’ words in this passage was to beckon His disciples, and us, to live for more than this world. A cross was an instrument of death, and unless we daily put to death our sinful desires, our human nature, we won’t discover the life we were truly made for. We might exist on earth, but we won’t truly live. Friend, you can have all the money you could ever want, but that’s not what you were made for. Too many of us walk around aiming at goals, hopes and dreams the Lord never intended us to have.
From a Christian viewpoint, even the best things on earth are a distraction if they take our eyes off Jesus. What does it benefit us a million years from now if we have a good 401k? This is a hard saying…lose your life, your wants, your desires, and find your life in Christ. This is the way to live, not for 70 plus years here on earth, but for five trillion years with King Jesus.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- What desires or pursuits do you have in life right now that are taking your eyes off Jesus?
- How can you encourage someone else to ask you the hard questions about the way you are spending your money, your time and your emotional energy?
- Are you willing to give up your wants and dreams to find your life in Christ?
Pray for vision and passion in the lives of our global workers to share the gospel. Pray also for the sending church family here, that we will feel the burden of lostness around us and be moved to share.