(See also Matthew 16:24-28)
Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Susan: “Deny” here is to utterly deny oneself, to give the right to oneself. It is to separate from one’s own desire and will and submit completely to the will of God. When I think of denying oneself, I think of two examples in the Bible. Of course, the primary example is of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane praying, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39b). Then there is Mary who upon being told that she was to bear a baby by the Holy Spirit while still a virgin, said to the angel, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). To take this concept to a more personal level, when within the confines of my cerebral-palsied earth-suit, I have to choose to be obedient to thank the Lord in, for, and though the pain and to trust Him in the midst of it, it is a denial of my natural desire to complain.
Susie: To the disciples, the cross was a symbol of an excruciating, demeaning death. To take up the cross was to be willing to follow Jesus even to the death. In addition to denying one’s own desires in favor of God’s will, a person must be willing to live sacrificially in the service of the Lord.
Susan: In the past, the word “daily” has flown right by me. To take up one’s cross is not a one-time event. Each day, even moment by moment, I must choose God’s plan rather than my own no matter how dire the resulting consequences.
Susie: God may not call me to be literally a martyr, giving my life because of my love of Jesus. However, He calls me to DAILY be willing to lay down everything I am and everything I have for His glory and His purposes.
Susan: We must lay every personal dream, choice, or plan at the foot of His cross. God’s dream for me is greater, more fantastic, more splendid than any desire we have. When God called me to ministry, I tried to tell Him that He had the wrong person—a woman, in a wheelchair, with CP—but now I can’t think of doing anything else with more passion, zeal, joy, and fulfillment than preaching the Good News.
Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us . . .
Luke 9:24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
MacArthur Study Bible note on Luke 9:24:
Aside from the command “follow Me,” this saying is repeated more times in the gospels than any other saying of Christ. Luke 17:33; Matt. 10:39; 16:25; Mark 8:35; John 12:25.
Susan: We must die to personal ambition in order to live for Kingdom purposes and the glory of the Eternal One.
Susie: To follow Jesus while He walked on earth would have been a difficult choice for a Jewish person. Since the religious leaders had completely rejected Jesus, to follow Him would result in a complete loss of status. Life as the person had known it would be over. However, to lose their life in the Jewish community would be to gain deliverance from sin and eternal life with God.
Susan: There are still people today who are tortured or killed because of their trust in Jesus, especially in countries of the 10-40 window:
Susie: Even in our “Christian” nation, people who convert to Christianity may be faced with loss of social standing, difficulties in the workplace, or even resistance in their own home. We must be willing to have our lives drastically altered here while remembering the hope we have for eternity.
Titus 3:7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Luke 9:25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
Susan: Many people spend all their energy and vitality on things that are temporary, fleeting, rather than giving themselves to the One who created the earth, its people, and everything. By rejecting Jesus and focusing only on everything temporal, a person is choosing a forever home in Hell.
Susie: We tend to forget that our time here on earth is temporary, that this life as we now know it is like steam that evaporates after a few moments:
James 4:14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
Susie: How we respond to Jesus during our short lives here determines where we will reside forever—in eternal peace with the Lord Jesus or in eternal punishment with Satan. There is no advantage in having all the treasure, fame and power of this world if it leads to eternal toment.
Susan: There is no benefit to having all your treasure here:
Matthew 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Susie: However, this does not mean that a Christian should not have wealth. The importance is in the attitude that person has. We must remember that all we own here actually belongs to God, and we are just stewards (managers) of His wealth for His glory.
Luke 9:26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.
Susie: We have explained the term “Son of Man” in an earlier lesson, but for those who may have just joined us: Whenever Jesus referred to Himself as the “Son of Man” He was quoting the Old Testament prophet Daniel (Daniel 7:13) and clearly claiming to be the Messiah as this was widely accepted as a Messianic prophecy. Let’s look at some similar statements in cross references:
Matthew 10:33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Luke 12:9 But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.
Susie: Being “ashamed” or denying Christ in this context is not a temporary denial like that of Peter when Jesus was arrested. It is a complete rejection of Him as the Son of God, never acknowledging His Lordship and deity until it is too late. If a person never trusts in and confesses Christ (publicly declaring Him as Lord), Jesus will say to that person:
Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. ( Matthew 25:41)
Luke 9:27 But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.
Susan: At first glance, one could say, “What?!” and scratch their head because we know that all the apostles eventually died. However, it must be understood that Jesus was speaking of the three apostles who would have the privilege of witnessing the Transfiguration which was a glimpse of Jesus in His glorified state not long after this statement was made.
MacArthur Study Bible note on Matthew 16:28: some standing. In all 3 of the synoptic gospels, this promise is made immediately prior to the Transfiguration (Mark 9:1–8; Luke 9:27–36). Furthermore, the word for “kingdom” can be translated “royal splendor.” Therefore, it seems most natural to interpret this promise as a reference to the Transfiguration, which “some” of the disciples—Peter, James, and John, would witness only 6 days later.
Ponder this and Apply it: If you have surrendered your life to Jesus, trusting Him for deliverance from sin and death, you are His disciple. Re-read verses 23 and 24. Perform a self-check and evaluate how well you are denying self and dying daily to your own desires in order to pursue the plans God has for you, His disciple, His child.