There is no greater love than yours, dear Jesus. Thank you for going to the cross for my sin.
Read LUKE 9:18-27
Peter Declares That Jesus Is the Messiah
18 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”
19 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”
20 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.”
Jesus Predicts His Death
21 Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
27 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.’1
This episode is a turning point in Jesus’ ministry and his instruction to his disciples. Now that Peter has recognized Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus begins to tell them about his impending suffering, death, and resurrection. This version of messiahship is very different to the conquering King, which most Jews expected. It must have been immensely confusing to these disciples, who won’t fully understand this new paradigm until after the cross and resurrection. Yet Jesus quickly extends this paradigm of suffering and self-denial to his followers (v 23).
There are three important verbs in this verse, which are all commands in Greek. The first two, about self-denial and taking up one’s cross, imply undefined action that could happen in various ways. The third verb, however, about following Jesus, implies continuous or ongoing action. The difference is undetectable in most English translations, yet it is blatant in the Greek. Jesus intentionally changes the third command to make it explicitly continuous and repeated.
Many people focus on the call to discipleship as a call to self-denial, stressing the willing taking up of one’s cross as a metaphorical way to describe dying to one’s own desires. This is certainly an important aspect of discipleship, particularly in the early days of repentance and learning about the Lordship of Christ. Yet the longer-term emphasis here is on following him continuously: this is the disciples’ highest priority. This will not always mean self-denial and suffering, particularly as our desires increasingly align with his. Jesus bore the cross once and for all. His call to you is to follow him unceasingly.
Discipleship is about following Jesus day by day, moment by moment. May we see what this means today and delight in Jesus and his desires for us.
Thank you, Jesus, for the privilege that is mine to tell others about you, about who you are, and what you have done.
1 Ps 37:3,4
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.