Luke 9:23-26 And he said to all, “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. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
I have to admit that I struggle a lot with this Scripture. When Jesus says “If anyone would come after me,” I like that part. I want to follow Him, I desire to be with Him forever. The part I struggle with is the rest of the verses. “let him deny himself and take up his cross.” To deny myself would mean, not to do what I want, but rather to do what He wants, which makes sense that He would equate that with picking up a cross. Not my idea of good times (carrying a cross) but if I am going to call him Lord (which is to say Master) am I not obligated then to deny myself? Is not the whole purpose of being bought with a price, so that I would go from one owner- sin to another- Jesus Christ? If I am now owned by Him who bought me, it would now stand reasonable to expect that my new owner would want to dictate the way I live. Problem is forgetting the dictates of my old master “sin” and not continuing in the old way of doing things.
It is critical at this point to mention the fact that this is part of the reason why Jesus came to be an example. Which is why I need to compare my life with His not anyone else’s, Jesus’s life and death is the standard. Also why it would be crucial to understand that to do the will of God and not my own means, I better know what God wants. No way around it the only way to know that is to read the Bible. Don’t just except what you here make sure it lines up with the Word of God. God doesn’t talk to us through revelation anymore. Everything He had to say to us He said by the time John put the period at the end of the last sentence in Revelation. The Holy Spirit guides us, who are Jesus’s, in a way of promptings almost like conscience does. Even with that though, to not be deceived by ourselves or evil spirits, when we get promptings they need to be in line with the Word of God. Don’t let someone fool you when they say God told me to tell you. One, if it was that important why wouldn’t God just tell me Himself and two God doesn’t talk to us or reveal new truths to us. Like I said everything He had to say He has said already. All that aside, if someone is pointing to Scripture in order to reveal a truth to you, in order to correct an action or aid in direction, that is how God talks to us. The important thing is to read the Bible, the more you know the more you grow. The Bible is to our spirit what food is to our physical bodies.
Being a Christian isn’t easy, Jesus never said it would be. Matthew 11:30 He said my yoke is easy and the burden is light. There is still work (yoke) and still burdens, and taking up your cross is a burden, but the farther (time wise) from the sin master we get, the lighter the yoke seems to get, because we start seeing the fruit of a life lived Gods way not our own. Notice also how denying and cross bearing is a daily task. Not only is it daily but look who is leading(Jesus). It is all about Gods will not our own. That is the example Jesus laid out for us. He came and did the will of God and in turn now we must also do Gods will.
I often find that what would make sense to me, is not always what makes sense to God. Like the next part of the verse “For whoever would 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 and loses or forfeits himself?” First you would think that being a good person and going to church, following the rules of society would be something to save you or at least account for something but for God it means nothing. God desires you losing your selfish, self centered life, giving up your plans and your wants. It is where a person loses himself that he finds the truth about what it really means to live. What God is saying is lose yourself for me and I will give you a new life eternal. I don’t know about you but I know I’m getting the better end of the deal. God wants my life filled with sin, pain, suffering and death and He is going to give me true life eternal (without sin, pain, suffering and death). In fact the life eternal is so great He won’t tell us what He has in store because you just can’t explain it with words that could even get close to the awesome display of His Glory and Magnificence. I can imagine a lot of good things so if God says it’s better than that then I can hardly wait to see what He has for us.
By the worlds standards nothing is better than gaining as much as you can. The more you have is the end goal and the world promises happiness, fulfillment and success at the end of the achievement of everything. But that is not what God is saying. He says that at the end of gaining everything is a soul that has been lost. The foolishness that countless people over the millennia that have given up an eternal future with more than we could ever imagine for a temporary life of less than we desire is just mind boggling at best. Sad for the people who have bought the lie and now live eternal damnation.
The last part of the verse “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” If we are ashamed of the things Jesus calls us to like carrying our cross, denying myself, losing my life; basically living a life that is going against the current of the world. In other words Jesus is asking us to swim upriver rather than following everyone else downriver. Always easier to go with the flow but God wants more for us and it requires obedience and follow the narrow way. So many on the last day are going to find themselves being cast away from God because of their own choosing. More than the fact that they are being cast away they are going to find that God is ashamed of them for choosing to waste life instead of living life.
So in recap read the Bible, follow Jesus’s example, deny yourself, bare your cross, and never be ashamed of the life lived for Jesus. And as always live out Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
YOU ARE LOVED always have been always will!!!!