The Book of Luke, The Cross and Christianity - Lesson 116
Luke 9:18-26, 18And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am? 19They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again. 20He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God. 21And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing; 22Saying, 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 the third day. 23And 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. 24For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? 26For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Fatherís, and of the holy angels.
It is at this point in the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ that all of his disciples are faced with the knowledge that this one whom they serve is indeed the Messiah, the promised One of God.
There has been wonder and conjecture until now but this is the turning point and each Apostle comes to this knowledge with ideas as to what this will mean as far as his life is concerned.
But if they listen to what Christ has to say they will hear that the immediate road ahead will not be glorious.
They will not be following one who will lead them to the throne on a white horse, for at this point Jesus begins to introduce the subject of His sacrificial and substitutionary death to the crowds.
In this passage we learn that what the Apostles are to expect is the suffering, the rejection and the death of their Master.
But there also is the promise of resurrection in this message but that promise seems to get lost in the negative aspect of his message.
It seems that a focus on the negative is the norm for the natural heart.
So once Jesus began to speak of His suffering, many of his disciples quickly lost their enthusiasm.
John tells us the result this teaching of Jesus:
John 6:66, From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Many of those who walked with him before were now being introduced to a Messiah not of their own making but one of Godís making.
Jesus Christ never intended to be the peopleís choice for he was the Fatherís choice.
His heart was one of being about his Fatherís business.
He never said he must be about the peopleís business as they saw their business.
Once Jesus informed them of the kind of Messiah He was, few there were who wanted Him as their Messiah and they walked with him no more.
They could accept Him as a prophet sent from God, but not as their Messiah, not as their leader.
Who wants a leader that preaches suffering and death?
It is so perfect of the Lord to choose this time to ask the disciples of his identity for he knew what the heart of the people was and he had no intention of being a Messiah according to their program.
This turning point was calculated to separate, to winnow the wheat from the chaff.
It was designed to reduce the crowds, to reduce his popularity.
He had no intention of being taken in an emotional outpouring that would make a king according to the peopleís desire.
So he poured water on the fire of emotional frenzy in order for Him to do the Fatherís will for the Fatherís will was to provide a Savior, a Savior who would die for the sins of the people.
As Godís Messiah, He must be rejected by the leaders of the nation, he must be crucified, and he must then rise from the dead three days later (v. 22).
This is the Fatherís business!
He told the Apostles to keep this secret for if they were to make known the identity of Jesus, it would only hinder His rejection and crucifixion, something which must take place.
What Jesus said would happen was a prophetic necessity, for the Old Testament prophets foretold His suffering and sacrificial death as you can read in Isaiah 52 and 53.
What Jesus said would happen was a necessity, for the sins of the world must be atoned for if any were to be saved and God had promised a Savior from the beginning to Adam his first creation.
This is another example of the absolute necessity of trusting in God and waiting on Him to take care of things for us instead of taking care of things in our own way or trying to figure out how Heís going to do things.
We so lean to our own understanding and when God does not do things according to our understanding we get angry at him for it.
Remember Peter will try to take care of things in his own way and will seek to prevent our Lordís arrest, by drawing his sword and using it (John 18:10‑11).
In the same manner unless hindered by God the crowds would be tempted to revolt and want their way.
Peterís confession that Jesus was the Christ was the occasion for Jesus to begin to speak plainly about His coming rejection and death.
It was surely not something which Peter and the others wanted to hear, but it was the plan and purpose of God.
It was the means for Godís promises of salvation to be fulfilled.
Jesus Christ made this very plain in our Luke passage when he said: 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 the third day.
Peter did not grasp our Lordís use of this word ďmustĒ like the word was meant to be grasped.
If God says something must happen it means that it will happen and there is to be no pleading that it will not happen as Peter did and was rebuked by our Lord as an agent of Satan.
This statement shows us that the cross of the Christ was mandatory.
Jesus Christ knew that being about the Fatherís business meant that he must suffer many things and then die.
Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke of the fact that He must suffer many things, which tells us that there was more suffering ahead than only that which was suffered on the physical cross.
He was to suffer the rejection of His people and their leaders.
He being sinless, suffered each day in this sinful world.
He suffered in leaving his Fatherís home to dwell among his own even though his own would receive him not
And even the few who received him had a distorted view of him and were without understanding of the mission that he had before him which included death.
He suffered over the spiritual dullness of this people who had rejected the Father and had gone about to establish their own righteousness.
Finally He had to suffer the isolation from the Father while bearing the sins of the world.
We cannot grasp the extent of his suffering and any suffering we are called upon to do for him does not begin to compare with the suffering of the Lord Jesus.
Now after he had made known to his Apostles his own imminent suffering he then made know the suffering that they were to bear.
Jesus Christ never paints a rosy picture when a rosy picture will not tell the truth.
Jesus Christ makes the road ahead plain to his disciples.
23And 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. 24For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? 26For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Fatherís, and of the holy angels.
This message of suffering and cross bearing to his disciples was not isolated for we read of the same warning to his disciples in:
John 16:18-20, If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
The Lord Jesus knows that his true followers are in for much trouble, for those that hate him will also hate those who follow him.
This is a cross that those who love Jesus are expected to bear.
When the crowds and the leaders view of Jesus is diametrically different from that of the disciples, there will not only be a cross for the Christ, but also for those who identify with Him.
As our own society drifts away from the principles of the Word of God those who believe the Word of God are also in for trouble.
That is what Jesus now tells them.
Having told the disciples of His cross, He immediately goes on to tell them that they will have a cross as well, if they follow Him.
Notice how connected their cross is to the suffering of Christ in this passage for when Christ talks about his suffering he immediately brings into the picture their cross.
This connection is because their cross is to be directly related to the cross of their Master, Jesus Christ.
The rejection and suffering of Christís followers is the consequence of their following Him.
It is for choosing to follow Christ that His followers will have a cross to bear.