Take up your cross, but also be raised up with Him
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 today’s text Jesus says: “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?” Many people, reading this, think that the Christian life is to be a life of suffering and sacrifice. They have come to believe that suffering is their cross to bear. Surely there is a degree of sacrifice and struggle in the Christian life. In John 15:18-21 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.” In John 16:33 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.” So while Jesus acknowledges that the world will hate us and that we will have tribulation, He also wants us to know and have His peace, to overcome as He has overcome. Look what Jesus says in today’s text: “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.” We may be rejected as Christ was, but we are mistaken and not truly following Christ if we follow only in suffering and sacrifice. We need to follow Jesus all the way through the resurrection. We need to live in the power of the resurrection. Jesus did not immediately ascend to heaven, in the spiritual realm. He was raised up in body. We too, while we look forward to heaven, should live here and now in the power of the resurrection. In John 10:10 Jesus says: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” If we live a life of suffering and sacrifice, we allow the thief to steal what Jesus came to give us through the resurrection. That is life more abundantly.
Romans 8:11 says: If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Because the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God dwells in us, through the sacrifice of Christ, we have the privilege and the ability to live both in this natural realm and also in the heavenly realm. In Luke 17:21, Jesus says: “Behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Jesus taught us to pray: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We are not only to pray that way, but we should be those who also are the fulfillment of that prayer. Because the kingdom of heaven is within us, we bring the realities of the kingdom with us wherever we go in this world. In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” If all people see of us is suffering and sacrifice, it will not glorify the Father in heaven. We need to follow Jesus, taking up our cross daily. We need though, also to follow Him daily to and through the resurrection. We need to live as He lived, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. We need to shine the light of Christ, walk in the abundance of God and bring the realities of heaven to earth. We need to have peace in tribulation and overcome the world in Christ.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; pracious Holy Spirit, it is my joy to share in Your suffering and sacrifice that the world may see and know Your peace and overcoming power. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. May my life be part of the fulfillment of Your prayer, to the glory of the Father, through the sacrifice of the Son and the power of the Spirit. Amen.