Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 4 Study # 6
November 15, 2009
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.
24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
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.
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.
1901 ASV Translation:
23 And he said unto all, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
24 For whosoever would save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
25 For what is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose or forfeit his own self?
26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in his own glory, and the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels.
27 But I tell you of a truth, There are some of them that stand here, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.
- I. Jesus' Description of the Requirements of "Coming After Me".
- A. The "saying" was emphasized as fundamental truth by the use of the verb translated "He said". However, it was also emphatic as to its fundamental reality by the fact that Luke cast it in the imperfect mood, a mood typically focused upon repetitive, or durational, action. This means that Jesus didn't just "mention" this; it was part and parcel of His doctrine.
- B. The issue involved: the "desire" of those who had given some indication that they would like to "come after Jesus" (in a good sense).
- 1. That it is "desire" indicates that they have not yet reached the point of "determination". It seems to them like it might be a good idea. There are some strong points of "appeal" to them in whatever mindset they have. On the surface of it, Jesus is extremely powerful and popular. These two "appearances" have their own "appeal". That He was also extremely outspoken and dogmatic was not "off-putting".
- 2. The "coming after" is far more than simply following His travels day by day. He is using the phrase to indicate an embrace of His very nature and its methods of engaging His setting in Life.
- C. The requirements.
- 1. They follow hard on the declaration of what is to happen to Him in Jerusalem (9:22).
- 2. They involve "self-denial". This is not a characteristic that is able to be put into only one aspect of living (such as fasting and refraining from forms of fleshly self-indulgence). This is a characteristic that brings the whole person into the picture and requires the "denial" of oneself across the board (physically, emotionally, spiritually). It requires a constant stream of appeal to God for His oversight and direction about everything. It assumes a Romans 12:1-2 type of attitude. It assumes that one's own preferences will be recognizable as one's own and put aside. It assumes an openness to direction that might be unexpected and "outside the box" in terms of the past. It assumes the death of all "dreams" so that the "vision" of His will fills the perspective. It also assumes the willingness to deny what is extremely appealing in terms of spiritual gifts and the execution of them (who wouldn't like to be a "Daniel", or an "Elijah", or a "Moses", and who wants to be a "nobody" from "nowhere" with "nothing" of any significance on one's plate?).
- a. The word translated "deny" is only used in the New Testament in the Gospels and it is used in two major contexts: this teaching by Jesus, and Peter's three-fold denial of Jesus on the night He was betrayed. There is one text (Luke 12:9) where Jesus declares that anyone who "denies" Him before men will be "denied" before the angels. If we assume that Peter will be exempted from this statement, we must also assume that the statement has a "life-style" character rather than an "incidental event" character. One can, after all, be forgiven and restored.
- b. The "problem" with this requirement is the question of how it applies in the nitty-gritty of the passing moments of Life. It is one thing to have a large umbrella "principle" of "self-denial". It is another thing to know how it applies to any specific decision. Paul indicated in Colossians 2:20-23 that there is a fine line between what is generated by the flesh for religious approbation and what is generated by the Spirit for Life reasons.
- 3. They also involve a "taking up of a cross". This is "pre-crucifixion" language for Jesus and His disciples. But Luke 14:27 repeats it with, "whosoever doth not bear his cross ... cannot be My disciple." The question is this: how much of an impact did a "cross" have for Jesus' hearers? It was a very well-known method of Roman capital punishment, but the very idea that the "Christ of the God" might be subject to it was pretty far out. It is more than probable that Jesus used this terminology because of the impact it would make later. Clearly, none of the Twelve were prepared for this kind of discipleship as their fear-filled flight on the night of His arrest displayed. The outstanding "issues" of "cross bearing", as they developed later, were two: 1) it was completely unwarranted (Jesus did nothing to "deserve" this); and 2) it was completely without any kind of surrogate (Jesus did have His cross borne by Simon of Cyrene, but not at His instigation). The impositions of others created the "cross" and the response Jesus requires is personal acceptance and personal effort.
- 4. They also involve a "following" after. There is little point to self-denial and cross-taking if the direction one takes is still one's own. Paul taught that men will often do the "self-denial" and "cross-bearing" thing for personal "reputation" issues (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). This is taking one's own direction, and it is fruitless in terms of Jesus' teaching.