Thursday 10 March 2011

Bible Book:

"If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." (v. 23)

Luke 9:22-25 Thursday 10 March 2011


Just before this passage, Peter has declared that he believesJesus to be the Messiah, the anointed one (verse20). The Jews expected the Messiah to come with power andmajesty to liberate them. But Jesus explains that his liberation isspiritual, not physical, and his way to this is through suffering,death and resurrection, and that his followers must show the samekind of commitment.

Denying oneself is not just about abstaining from particularthings. The use of "daily" indicates that it is a whole attitude tolife. It requires a complete transformation in our approach to putGod and others before our own needs, problems, hopes and fears.Discipleship isn't so much about being saved from the world butallowing ourselves to be spent in the world, and so fulfil God'spurpose for our lives.

Following Jesus means taking on the mission he declared - tostruggle for justice, minister to the broken-hearted, bring hopeand support to the poor (see Luke4:16-21). Such active loving is far from easy and can make usvulnerable. If you care for people, they may still reject you ortake out their frustration and hopelessness on you. Challenginginjustice and proclaiming freedom can mean confronting vestedinterests and that can be dangerous.

Many have paid a high price for being faithful followers of Jesus.It's not just the early Christians who faced persecution. Millionsacross the world were killed for their faith in the 20th centuryand oppression still continues in several countries. Even in thiscountry individual Christians may suffer discrimination and youngChristians may be bullied because of their faith.

Of course, we can avoid trouble if we just remain in our churches,keep our heads down and wait for Jesus to return to put the worldright and to justify us. But such a timid faith has little future.It is when we take the risks of commitment, when we engage with ourcommunities and help people to transform their lives and to achievewholeness in the power of the Spirit that we embrace lifewhole-heartedly. It is when we die to self that we really becomealive.

To Ponder

What does 'take up your cross' mean in yourlife?

Consider the words of the Covenant Prayer. How willing are you to makethis a reality in your life?

When you share the gospel (good news of Jesus)with people, what is the balance in what you tell them between whatthey will gain and what they are expected to give?

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