Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 4 Study # 8
November 29, 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 requirements.
- 1. They follow hard on the declaration of what is to happen to Him in Jerusalem (9:22).
- 2. They involve "self-denial".
- 3. They also involve a "taking up of a cross".
- 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. But the larger question is this: what did "following Jesus" mean in day-by-day terms?
- a. In the historical setting, at the most "physical" level, the meaning was tied to going wherever Jesus went and doing whatever He told one to do.
- b. However, in that historical setting, the other issues of "self" denial and "cross bearing on a daily basis" were as involved in "following" as any manner of physical activity. But these issues are not "physical" and, technically, neither was "following". Judas Iscariot was as involved in the physical activities as any of the other disciples, but one would have a time of it to argue that he was "following" in the sense that Jesus had in mind for His words. But, on the other hand, those like the man of Gadara (Luke 8:26-39) bring a "following" concept into the picture that did not include the actual physical process as he was denied that privilege, but given a task to accomplish for Jesus (8:38-39). So it might be argued that one was not "following" who was physically following and that one was "following" who was not physically following (Jesus had no patience with those who said they would "follow" but would not leave home: Luke 9:59; but He also countered John for forbidding one who "followeth not with us" by saying "he that is not against us is for us": Luke 9:49-50). Thus, as with all Truth, there are multiple considerations to take into account.
- c. One thing is clear: "following" always meant at least "doing what Jesus told one to do". No one in disobedience can, in any sense, be considered a "follower" of Jesus. Thus, if Jesus "told" one to not come with Him, that one was "following" Him even though He was miles away.
- d. Another thing is also clear: "doing what Jesus told one to do" with corrupt motives, or false attitudes can hardly be called "following" even though the "doer" is following Jesus' instructions to the "t". However, calling this "clear" when it is at the very root of all of the conflict between legalism and grace may be an overstatement. The Jews had dismissed the issues of motivation and focused only upon a precise alignment between "command" and "action", and this was the heart of their legalism. Thus, it was obviously not "clear" to them that corrupt motives was a breach in the hold that would sink the whole ship.
- e. One thing with which men do have significant difficulty is the fact that there is no necessary link between what a man "believes" to be true and what is actually true. A man can live his entire life believing lies and only discover his error when the evidence has come to an undeniable crisis (such as the judgment of the One Who sits upon the Great White Throne: Revelation 20:11-15). Such is the nature of deception and spiritual dullness.
- f. Thus, we conclude the following about "following"":
- 1) "Following" did not necessarily include being where Jesus is.
- 2) "Following" included the trilogy of "love" (right motivation), "faith" (right conviction of the mind), and "activity" (actual fulfillment of the details of any given command).
- 5. But we are not finished. The most difficult issue is the question: How do I transfer what "following" meant in Jesus' historical situation to my historical situation?
- a. It must be assumed that the issues of 4f immediately above are still in play.
- b. But, the circumstances are significantly altered. We have a "bigger" Bible than did the disciples (expanded in content) and, thus, far more to "know"; we have a significantly altered reality in respect to Jesus' presence (He has "gone away" and the Spirit "has come": John 16:7); and we have centuries of accretions to the doctrines of how that Spirit gives us His comfort that range from a practical denial of His presence coupled to an overweening pride of intellect (on one extreme) to a practical denial of the actual intermediacy of human intelligence and divine, written, revelation coupled to an ignorant attribution of everything to "the Spirit's leading". The end of this has come down to the tensions between a "Spirit-less" study of biblical revelation and a "revelation-less" enthusiasm of "Spiritual relationship". Our circumstances are, indeed, altered.
- c. Thus we seek some form of legitimate balance wherein we use our minds in the pursuit of the knowledge of biblical revelation but have no confidence in our conclusions apart from the practice of "praying without ceasing" for Spiritual illumination: active dependence. This translates into what one wit called "acting as if everything depends upon you" while "praying as if everything depends upon God". Wedding the "heart/mind" to the "Spirit/ soul".