by the Rev. Henry Huenemann
And he said unto 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).
14And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
15He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
18And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
20Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.
21From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
22Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
23But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
24Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
26For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
27For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
28Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
To follow Christ means self-denial, cross-bearing, suffering persecution. Jesus had just told his disciples, "The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised again the third day." Thereupon 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." Mark tells us, "When he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them (Luke says, "To them all.'' He wanted all to hear and understand what discipleship meant; not a comfortable easy life, but suffering for Christ's sake), "Whosoever will come after me, 'Let him deny himself.'" How did Peter deny Christ? He said, "I know not the man." He wanted to give the impression as if Christ was no concern to him. So must we deny our natural self with all its inclinations, wishes and desires. We must say No to it. "And take up his cross." The cross which we must take up is not any kind of suffering we bring upon ourselves, but the suffering we must endure for Christ's sake. This cross we must take up daily. "And follow me," even if it be to a literal cross. Christ says, "He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me." And again, "Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." The way lies through much tribulation. All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. Let us not be moved by these afflictions, whereunto we are appointed, but let us rather take pleasure in them. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.
Most merciful God, help us to be true followers of Jesus Christ. Grant us grace and strength to deny ourselves. May we willingly take up our cross daily, and follow our Saviour whithersoever He leads. Increase our faith, that we may not be moved by tribulations and afflictions; but grant that we may have a childlike confidence, that Thou wilt deliver us out of all distresses that befall us, and preserve us unto Thy heavenly kingdom. Hear us and bless us as we have need, and unto Thee be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Scripture in Devotional: Mark 8:34; Matt. 26:72; 10:38; Luke 14:27; Acts 14:22; 2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Thess. 3:3; 2 Cor. 12:10; 1 Tim. 2:12.
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