If anyone wishes to come after Me
Luke 9:7-27 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, 8 and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen again. 9 Herod said, “I myself had John beheaded; but who is this man about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see Him.
10 When the apostles returned, they gave an account to Him of all that they had done. Taking them with Him, He withdrew by Himself to a city called Bethsaida. 11 But the crowds were aware of this and followed Him; and welcoming them, He began speaking to them about the kingdom of God and curing those who had need of healing.
12 Now the day was ending, and the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; for here we are in a desolate place.” 13 But He said to them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless perhaps we go and buy food for all these people.” 14 (For there were about five thousand men.) And He said to His disciples, “Have them sit down to eat in groups of about fifty each.” 15 They did so, and had them all sit down. 16 Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people. 17 And they all ate and were satisfied; and the broken pieces which they had left over were picked up, twelve baskets full.
18 And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?” 19 They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” 20 And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” 21 But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, 22 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 up on the third day.”
23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. 25 For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and 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 the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
In just a few days, the Christian church around the world will be observing the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. We will acknowledge the price He paid so that we could be redeemed and live the abundant life that He promised in John 10:10. The word Christian means little Christ, and so there is also a price that we as Christians must be willing to pay to follow Him. In today’s text Jesus says: “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 up on the third day.” And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? 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 the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” In Luke 14:27-33 Jesus says: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.” Here’s the thing though, with God and Christ we don’t lose what we give up, rather all that we give is multiplied. In Malachi 3:10, concerning giving, God says: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” In Mark 10:29-30 Jesus says: “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.”
Our cross, the one we carry daily is not a cross of suffering. Just as Jesus went to the cross willingly to pay the price for our sins, we give our lives willingly so that nothing can be taken from us. Instead, we are given back an abundance of all that we need and desire. In Psalm 37:4 it says: Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. There is nothing that we can lose, when we have made God our heart’s desire. What then is the cost? What is the price that we need to consider and pay to follow Jesus; to be a Christian? It is that along with the abundance and blessing we are promised and given, there will also come persecution. In John 15:18-25 Jesus says: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’” In John 16:33 though Jesus says: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” There is nothing that we might face that Jesus has not already overcome. The only sure way that we will not suffer loss in this world and this life, is to surrender everything to Him.
Through the cross of Christ, we are promised eternal life. Psalm 23:4 says: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me. Even death is not to be feared. It is merely a shadow with no lasting power over those who follow Christ. Today’s text ends saying: “But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” That too is the promise we have if we will give everything to Christ. We don’t have to wait until this life is over to see the kingdom of God. In Luke 17:21 Jesus says: “Behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Jesus taught us to pray saying: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” If we will give our lives to Christ; to follow Him, we can see the kingdom of God on earth. Even more, we can be the kingdom of God on earth.
Thank You Lord Jesus Christ for the price You willingly paid. Thank You that You ask not that we sacrifice, but rather we exchange what the world can give for the abundance of heaven. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done in and through my life. Amen.