What do you see? Luke 9:23
What do you see when you read this? What comes to mind when you read these words Jesus spoke in such a way that gives no middle ground? How often would many of us read this voluntarily? How often do we self check to see if we measure up to this requirement? In cases like this we like to say that Jesus was just talking to the twelve disciples and this does not apply to us. But Jesus said “anyone” and did not say “if you twelve”. What he said not only speaks to the action of being a Christian but it is at the heart of becoming one as well as what it means to be one. If we examine our salvation and what it means to believe in Jesus Christ the son of God, we will see this scripture come alive.
John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born (J)of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 (K)That which is born of the flesh is (L)flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[c]
Just begin looking at Jesus’ words in regards to entering heaven as he say those thing produced by flesh cannot enter. Thus anything we produce like self-righteousness, pride, self-discipline,self affirmations, positive thinking, human spirituality, humanism, simply following the golden rule and etc cannot get you into heaven. No human effort will do. Only the holy, righteous and justified can enter. But no one is good enough but Christ and when the Holy Spirit gives us a heart of flesh and we are born again we are still being sanctified daily. As we walk in our newness,we are to live for Christ so we imitate him following him in all things regardless of what the world my say.
So in this one verse is our salvation, regeneration, perseverance, sanctification, and justification. But there is much more to this and it does not stop at coming to Jesus and giving up our efforts to earn heaven. We are also called to give up our self reliance and our wills to please self. In this scripture there is a call to submit to Christ’s Lordship.
Let him, deny himself – That is, let him surrender to God his will, his affections, his body, and his soul. Let him not seek his own happiness as the supreme object, but be willing to renounce all, and lay down his life also, if required.
Coming to Christ is denying ourselves and our will as our will is connected to our flesh as we were once slaves to. Christ is our master and Lord, our will now revolves around him. Matthew 6:33 But (A)seek first (B)the kingdom of God and his righteousness, (C)and all these things will be added to you. God instructs us to seek after Him alone and let tomorrow worry for itself as this goes against our very will. In hindsight, Jesus could be calling us to faith, trust,hope and love in him as it would take faith to cast away our worries for ourselves, endure the backlash from the world for doing what Christ says and to follow a God that the world hates.
And he that taketh not his cross,…. By the “cross”, which was a Roman punishment, whereby malefactors were put to death, are meant all sorts of afflictions, reproaches, persecutions, and death itself; and particularly the ill will, hatred, and persecution, of near relations and friends, which must be expected by such, who bear a faithful testimony for Christ. Every minister of Christ, or professor of his name, has “his” own cross, his own particular afflictions, appointed by God, and laid on him by Christ, and which he should cheerfully take up, and patiently bear, for his sake. The allusion is to the custom of persons sentenced to be crucified, to carry their own cross, as Christ did his, and Simon the Cyrenian for him; and which our Lord here may have a respect unto, as well knowing what death he was to die, and that some of his disciples also would die the same death: wherefore Christ says,
and followeth after me; led on by his example, to preach or profess the Gospel, submit to the ordinances of it, and cheerfully suffer for the sake of it, when called to it. If a man, who would be thought to be a disciple of Christ, is not willing to do all this, but, in order to avoid it, complies with his friends, conforms to the world, and turns his back on Christ; of such an one he may well say, he
is not worthy of me; it is not convenient that he should stand among his disciples and followers.