Take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
Luke 9:7-27 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now Herod the tetrarch heard about 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. 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. And taking them with Him, He withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida. 11 But the crowds were aware of this and followed Him; and He welcomed them and 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 up and said to Him, “Dismiss the crowd, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; because here, we are in a secluded place.” 13 But He said to them, “You give them something to eat!” But 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.) But He said to His disciples, “Have them recline to eat in groups of about fifty each.” 15 They did so, and had them all recline. 16 And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and, looking up to heaven, He blessed them and broke them, and gave them to the disciples again and again, to serve the crowd. 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.” 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 on the third day.”
23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must 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 for My sake, this is the one who will save it. 25 For what good does it do a person if he gains the whole world, but 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 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 wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, this is the one who will save it. For what good does it do a person if he gains the whole world, but 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 the holy angels.” It is unfortunate that many people believe that an illness, a disability or difficult circumstances are their cross to bear. The cross that Jesus says we are to take up is one of self-denial, not of suffering and sacrifice. In truth, the psalmist has the answer to how we are to deny self, in Psalm 37:4 he says: Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Rather than struggling to deny ourselves, we need to delight in the Lord. We need to focus on Him, not on self. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus says: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.” Regarding suffering, in John 19:30, when Jesus was on the cross, He said: “It is finished!” Isaiah 53:4-6 says: Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Jesus did all the suffering that needed to be done. He paid the price in full. We need to follow Christ not in His suffering, but to 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.”
Jesus says: whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory. It is not that we are to suffer and die like Jesus. It is whether we are ashamed to live for Him. Are we ashamed of the gospel? Romans 1:16-17 says: I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written: “But the righteous one will live by faith.” We mourn and celebrate those who die for their faith, the martyrs of the past and present. Sometimes though it is even harder to live for Christ, to live by faith, than it is to die for Him. In Acts 1:8 Jesus says: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.” If we are not ashamed of Christ, we will be His witnesses. Regardless of the situations and circumstances of our lives, we will testify of the finished work of the cross. 2 Corinthians 5:15 says: He died for all, so that those who live would no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose on their behalf. Jesus says: “Follow Me.” In John 11:25 Jesus says: “I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies.” Since we will live with Him when we die, we should live for Him while we are alive.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit. I am not ashamed of You or Your words. By the power of the Holy Spirit, I choose to follow You, to live in the power of the resurrection; to be a witness of the finished work of the cross. Amen.