Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Vision (3/21/13): Luke 9:23: The Call to Discipleship

Note:  LastSunday’s sermon was based on one of the most powerful teachings of our Lord on the topic of discipleship found in the Scriptures (Luke 9:18-27).  Here are some notes from the exposition of Luke 9:23:

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23).

In v. 23, Jesus reveals to his disciples that there will be implications for them that will flow from the fact that “the Son of man must suffer many things” (v. 22).  If they are to be Christ-like (“Christians” or Christianoi, as they will first be called at Antioch, Acts 11:26), then they too must suffer many things.

Jesus addresses “all” the disciples (not just the Twelve but the other disciples as well, making this a general call to discipleship), saying, “If any man will come after me….”  Jesus then lays out three commands:

First, “let him deny himself.”  The verb here is arneomai and it means to deny, to denounce, to disown, to refuse.  Have you ever been rejected or disowned or denied by someone you’ve loved or wanted to please?  Jesus says we are to reject or disown ourselves!  How different is this call from what the world offers!  The world says:  Indulge yourself, stroke yourself, defend yourself, pursue that which makes you feel happy and comfortable.  The world coddles us by telling us we deserve a break today; we need to satisfy and serve ourselves above all.  Forget about others, forget about society, forget about God.  Just do what makes you feel good.  The world builds an altar in our hearts and beckons us to make sacrifice to ourselves.  Jesus says go to that altar and tear it down!

Second, “and take up his cross daily.”  We are not as scandalized by the cross as men were in the first century and as we ought to be today.  The disciples would have seen criminals executed by the Romans on the roadways.  They would have seen men gasping for breath in a futile effort to prolong their doomed lives.  They would have seen the cruel practice of the Romans who made the condemned carry their own crosses to the place of execution.  Remember, Jesus is saying all this to his disciples before he even goes to the cross!  If you want to follow me, you must die to yourself.  You can no longer live.  I must live in you.  We need to take note of the little word “daily” (in Greek it is the preposition kata and the word “day”). This death to self is not something that happens just once, when we repent of sin and turn in faith to Christ.  But it is according to and corresponding with every day that we are blessed to draw breath.  Self-mortification is to be daily.

Third, Jesus says, “and follow me.”  This is the basic call to be a disciple or student of Jesus, to enroll in the school of Christ.  You don’t become his follower, till you are broken.  Till you have starved your desires in denying yourself.  Till you have borne your cross to the place of your daily dying.


Anonymous said...

FYI, the world doesn't "caudle" us. Caudle is a sweet drink. The word you should have used is "coddle."
"Born" the cross should be "borne."

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Corrected. Thanks for the close reading of the article and for the editorial help.