Scripture: Luke 9:22-25
“The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things,” he said. “He will be rejected by the elder, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 25 And what do you benefit, if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?”
As we enter the Lenten season, we often come to passages of Scripture that are very familiar to us, and because of their familiarity we often read right over the top of the most important point that Jesus is trying to make. Verse 22 in the above passage is very familiar to us all, especially at this time of year; but what we sometimes miss in these verses is that Jesus is talking to us in two completely different ways. In verse 22 Jesus is speaking to crowd prophetically, it’s almost as if he’s talking to himself. When he said that “The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things” and that “he will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead,” I can almost see the crowd’s eyes glaze over because of the profound and prophetic things Jesus was saying. Dying and being raised from the dead was not an everyday occurrence, and because of that, I’m sure most people in the crowd were thinking; Wow! Dying and being raised from the dead, I’ve never seen that before, I wonder who he’s talking about. That’s the thing about prophetic teaching; it’s usually something very new, profound and different, something that most people don’t really understand at the time it’s being shared.
The rest of the verses shared in this passage; verses 22-25 are what are known as “instructional” verses. Here we learn what Jesus expects of his true followers. He leads off by saying if we want to follow him we must turn from our selfish ways and take up our cross daily. It’s interesting that Jesus tells us not only “what” he wants us to do, but also, “how often” he wants us to do it . . . he wants us to do it daily. Yet, what in the world does it mean to “take up our cross?” If you read just a little further along, Jesus clearly tells us it means, losing our self-interest, setting it aside, for the sake of Jesus and for others. Very simply a selfless life means putting the interests of others ahead of your own. Essentially you can be selfish and do what you want or you can follow what Jesus asks and live for others. You get to decide. While you’re deciding, don’t forget the last verse in this passage where it is says: “and what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed." It's up to you, the choice is yours. Will you follow or flounder?
- How do you need to “die to yourself” this Lent?
- How have we been selfish in our life? What changes do we need to make to become less selfish?
- What selfless acts do we need to celebrate in our life?
Begin a lifestyle change where you put others before yourself. Start simply by helping a neighbor, co-worker or family member. Then take another step and get help stock a food pantry or teach a Bible study. Remember change comes in incremental and consistent steps.
Jim Watters is an Ordained Minister and who has worked both domestically in internationally for World Vision, World Relief and currently for K-LOVE and Air1 Christian Radio.