Luke 9:18-26 New King James Version (NKJV)
Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ
18 And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
19 So they answered and said, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.”
20 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”
Jesus Predicts His Death and Resurrection
21 And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one,
22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”
Take Up the Cross and Follow Him
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?
26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.
Genuineness, truth, honesty is pleasing to God.
--The Ten Commandments teach us this to each other.
--Then in Luke 9:23 Jesus asks for an honest faith.
--"If anyone...come after Me, let him deny himself."
Luke 9:18 begins with Jesus, "..alone praying."
--Jesus had just fed "about five thousand men" plus women and children, with a lad's lunch (v 14).
--Perhaps the disciples came, as His praying ends.
--So Jesus asks them, "Who do the crowds say that I am." Who is Jesus? What were the others saying?
--Today, as then, people have many ideas of Jesus.
--Like, who is He? Where He came from? What Jesus came for? Is Jesus God, the Messiah-Savior?
So they gave different comments of people.
--Then Jesus asks the most important question - "Who do you say that I am?" (v 20). For us to answer.
--Good old Peter was the first to say, "The Christ of God." Matthew adds, "Son of the Living God."
--It is true. Jesus accepted it and commends Peter.
--"Blessed are you .. flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven," (Matthew 16:17). Let God do so for many others.
--It is on such confession of faith, Jesus will build His church, He declares, "and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (v 18).
Jesus asked His disciples so they would remember, to reinforce their assurance to share with others.
Then, for the first time, Jesus tells of His death - "be rejected..and be killed, and be raised the third day" (v 22). Let's mark this great truth.
--Jesus always couples His cross with an empty tomb!
--He "will be raised the third day" - and He was.
I give you this Biblical background for my message.
--In Luke 9:23 Jesus gives us soul-searching words.
--"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Jesus). Calls for loyalty, to God, from us.
--In this great verse let's see four vital things.
I. HONESTY TO GOD IS EACH ONE'S PERSONAL CHOICE
--Jesus said, "If anyone..no matter who...desires to come after Me." "Anyone..to come after" Him.
--No one is pressured. No one is forced. Or threatened with a sword. Rather all are lovingly invited.
--It was the policy of Jesus. And Christendom.
--It has been my practice, in personal witnessing or in closing a sermon, to ask for a right decision.
It is our responsibility to give the Gospel and invitation - but others responsibility what they do with the prayerful appeal. Jesus always gave a choice.
Not only is this true for salvation, and forgiveness of sin; but it is for what we do with Jesus after!
In Luke 9, Jesus is concerned with His followers who accepted Him - to follow, serve, live righteously.
--I say this, because of what follows.
--Look at Luke 9:26, "Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father's and of the holy angels." Live for His "well done."
Or, "What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost" (v 25).
--Riches, pleasures, honors, all we think are so vital and valuable to pursue, are like cotton-candy.
--They can only be enjoyed in life down here - also, can quickly be wiped away like the fom on a tide.
--But the real joys of Jesus are lasting, here..and hereafter. They are precious, in His fellowship.
We have a soul - akin to God. Made by God, and made for God. To be redeemed and saved by God.
--That is why Jesus - Who is God with skin - came.
--Jesus pleaded while alive on earth with us ... and, in His death, and following His resurrection.
--Even today, by His Spirit invites, "Follow Me."
--"If anyone desires to come after Me." Have you"
II. BEING HONEST TO GOD, CAUSES US TO DENY SELF.
--"If anyone desires to come after Me, let Him deny himself" (Luke :23). Put Jesus, the Lord, first.
--Some, during Lent, give up certain things for God.
--My friend, there are some things Christians are to give up continually - such as all kinds of sin.
--There are in the Ten Commandments..or Sermon on the Mount, the Gospels, or I Corinthians 13 - that great Chapter on Love and godliness.
--"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy, does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil..rejoices in the truth..endures all things" (I Cor. 13:4-7).
--This kind of Christian love "never fails."
Yet not all Christians so "deny ourselves," do we?
--If so, there would be more peace, and less wars.
--There would be more lasting marriages, and far less unhappiness, and divorce. More joy, less sorrow.
--There would be more revivals and growing churches.
--There would be more righteousness; less alcoholism, and addictions, and adultery, and abortion.
--Jesus cries to us, "let him (or her) deny self."
Most of us are not used to denying self, as formerly believers used to do - and did with joy for Him.
--If we want something, we usually can get it.
--It may not always be the best...or good for us.
--We may have to suffer some consequences later.
--If only more of us could learn to "deny ourself."
--When we do, we are answering Jesus' prayer for us.
--When we sin, we are "denying" Jesus, not "ourself."
--When we disobey God, we're not "following" Jesus.
In prayer I often lay my life on God's altar of sacrifice and service, to win others to the Savior.
--To spend, and be spent, in prayer and witness.
--To care for those out there, unsaved, unchurched.
--For those who hurt. Sorrow. Confused. In need.
--Or gotten on the wrong path - to be guided aright.
--Even so, I often fail. And need to deny self more.
III. THEN JESUS SAID, "TAKE UP HIS CROSS DAILY"
--That is for us to die to self, and live for Him.
Look what Paul wrote, "I have been crucified," died to self, "with Christ;" like unto Paul's Lord, "it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). That is our ideal.
--He repeats this same principle in Galatians 6:14 - "in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Paul exemplified what Jesus commands us.
Jesus said, "Anyone who wants to follow Me must put aside his own desires and conveniences and carry his cross with him every day and keep close to Me" (Luke 9:23 LB). Carefully ponder each word for blessings.
No one likes a cross - not the real one, Jesus knew.
--Nor, spiritual ones that we all can face so often.
--For the cross Jesus said for us to "take up daily" is repulsive to some, but it brings resurrection!
--Maybe turns you off - but don't let it! Value it.
--And the longer I live, the more I see its value.
--And the stronger I must emphasize it in any life.
Jesus had but one real, wooden, rugged, cross.
--But Jesus had others, and so do we, dear friends.
--Our task is to learn from our crosses - all kinds.
--I look back, and my crosses bring me close to God.
IV. HONESTY TO GOD REQUIRES THAT WE FOLLOW JESUS.
--The rest of Luke 9:23, is "and follow Me" (Jesus).
--Jesus has repeated that all through the Gospels.
--Let's be honest to God, how close do we "follow"?
--Are we "following" in His "steps"? Or our way?
--And is it a "daily" devotion of obedience - Monday through Sunday..not just on one day of the week?
--Many times..to many people, Jesus said, "follow Me." Not self. Not the way of the world. Jesus.
Now circle verse 24, "whoever desires to save His life" - that is, going one's own way not God's - "will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it." Dying to self and sin, means live for Him.
Be Honest to God! - Wilbert D. Gough, ThD. DD. 923