Welcome to Thursday’s podcast. Our reading today is Luke 9: 18-36. Today I’m going to focus on verse: 23-24
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.’
We have a dog – a black Labrador called Archie.
This year he turns 10.
These days he takes a more leisurely approach to life – when he was a puppy it was a very different matter. He was a real handful.
For example, if Archie didn’t like the route we chose for him on his walk he would protest. He’d sit down or even lie down. I’ve learned it’s not wise to drag a dog down the road – people do tend to give feedback, not always in the most positive terms. If one did manage to get him on all four legs – he’d sometimes hold the lead in his mouth and pull on it to make his displeasure known.
We had to get help. And so, Kev a guide dog trainer entered our world, and changed Archie’s.
Kev’s first immortal words to us: there can only be one leader and one follower – the question: who is who?
In fact Jesus’ words here are clear and unequivocal: if we want to be his disciple – we are called to ‘deny’ ourselves – take up our cross and follow him.
Self denial? Taking up the cross? Wow, how intense does that sound?
One commentary puts it like this: ‘the goal of self denial and taking up one’s cross is not pathological self abasement or a martyr complex but being free to follow the Messiah….’
The idea is that as a follower of Jesus we relinquish the so-called ‘right’ to self-govern our lives but walk in simple obedience and dependence on the messiah.
If I’m honest my approach to the idea of surrendering to God was a bit like our young Labrador – I resisted it. I would by power of will under my breath mutter ‘Must give up…. Must surrender…’ but I’ve come to think it’s more cheery than that.
Self denial will feel like self flagellation if we don’t focus on who we’re surrendering too.
Take money for example.
If we’re truly to follow Jesus and to deny ourselves then our attitude to money will change.
Think about giving for a moment. If we stopped to look at the amount – it would be hard to do it. Hard to let it go. Naturally we’d think of all the things we could put the money to good use.
But discipleship is giving up the right to self govern out lives. The good thing is that we’re called to look to God – the provider of all things. We can trust him with our lives.
Stop and think for a short moment today and pray to God – where are those areas where I’m not following Jesus?
Father may we enter rest today by doing your will only, Amen.
READING: Luke 9:18-36
Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’
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.’
‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’
Peter answered, ‘God’s Messiah.’
Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 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.’
Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 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.
‘Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.’
About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendour, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ (He did not know what he was saying.)
While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.’ When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen.