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Take up your cross
The call and cost of discipleship
Luke 9:23

Scripture reading: Luke 14:25-35

So far, in my reading of the Book of Luke, I have discovered that one of the big themes of Gospel of Luke is the call of Christ to be His disciple -- this is closely followed by Jesus teaching what it means to be his disciple. Hence, in Luke, we read of Jesus teaching that our calling is to: preach the Gospel, love our enemies, turn the other cheek, give to the one who asks of us, produce fruit in keeping with our profession of faith, obey Jesus, endure hardship and persecution and insult for the sake of Jesus, serve others.

Today we are going to take a look at a verse of scripture that has long intrigued me. The verse in question is Luke 9:23, wherein Jesus says "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." This verse stands at the centre of Jesus' call to be his disciples

READ Luke 9:18-27 and Luke 9:57-62


1. "If anyone would come after me"

The first thing to note from this verse is this: Jesus calls all to come after him. Jesus came from Heaven to Earth on a rescue mission-- to save us from our sins and the judgment to come (Matthew 1:21). He came to suffer and die in our steads that whosoever would turn to him in faith and repentance might come to have eternal life.

Jesus' call to every person who will listen "Come, be my disciple. Come and follow me. Come to me for the forgiveness of your sins. Come take my yoke upon you and learn from me (Matthew 11:29)

QUESTION: Have you said YES to the call of Jesus to follow Him?

2. "he must deny himself"

Point: Jesus has expectations of His followers

What does Jesus mean when he says that we must deny ourselves??

-To deny ourselves firstly entails saying NO to the desires of the flesh, to sin, and to temptation. We are to say No to the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Paul says in Galatians 5:24 "Those who belong to Jesus Christ have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires"
-To deny ourselves means the philosophy of this age "Eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die" is no longer our guide.
-To deny ourselves the desires of the flesh means that we acknowledge that our bodies belong to Christ, hence we will save sex for marriage, we will not engage in homosexual behavior, we will not get drunk or high on drugs. We will not indulge ourselves at every turn
-To deny ourselves means to say "no" to doing our own thing. It means that we pray to God about what he wants us to do. It means that we seek His will and no longer live life by our own playbook.
-To deny ourselves means that we are no longer making up our own rules for how we are going to live. To the contrary, we now say yes to the Word of God

The denial of self takes us to this rightful end: Saying YES to Christ and things of God.

The denial of self also leads us to the recognition that as the followers of Jesus that a conflict exists-- a conflict Paul speaks of in Romans 7; A conflict between our flesh and the Spirit of God. This conflict will vex and torment us at times-- for often we do not deny ourselves as we ought. This grieves us and the Spirit of God. Yet here is our comfort-- a comfort Paul rested on. "Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God- through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Romans 7:24-25.

QUESTION: How are you doing as it regards saying NO to self and YES to God?

3. "and take up his cross"

Very often Jesus' call to daily take up our cross is misappropriated. For instance people will interpret the cross as some burden they must carry in their lives; a strained relationship, a thankless job, a physical burden. Hence they say, "That's my cross I have to carry". THIS IS NOT JESUS MEANT

Verse 22 reveals to us the context of Jesus' call to take up our cross. In verse 22 Jesus tells his disciples that he is about to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and then on the third day be raised to life."

Hence, Jesus is calling us to solidarity with himself.

Jesus' call to take up our cross is a call to die. His call necessitates a willingness on our parts to suffer persecution, scorn, and rejection for His NAME. See also v.26

Note: When Jesus issued the call, his disciples would have automatically thought of how the Romans forced convicted criminals to carry their own crosses, through main street of the city, enduring ridicule along the way, to the place of crucifixion.

To take up ones cross means to be willing to follow Jesus even if it means losing some of your closest friends, being alienated from your own family, losing your reputation, losing your job, etc

QUESTION: Are you willing to die or suffer persecution and scorn for the name of Jesus?

"Everyone who wants to live a godly life will be persecuted" 2 Timothy 3:12

4. "daily"

I left the word "daily" out of our last point because this aspect of discipleship bears its own space.

Conversion-- Turning to God for peace with him and the forgiveness of sins and being born again is a one time event received by faith and brought about by the Fathers plan, the work of Christ on the cross, and the call and inward working of the Holy Spirit.

While conversion is a one time act, following Jesus is a daily thing.

Daily we are to say NO to the flesh and sin and temptation. Daily we are to be willing to die for Jesus.

Following Jesus requires a daily commitment of ourselves to Christ, a daily acknowledgment that we are his followers, that we belong to Jesus, that He is Lord of us.

Suppose for a moment that you wake to tomorrow, get out of bed, eat breakfast, get showered, and head off to work, then you return home, eat supper, do your chores, watch tv and then go to bed. If that was all your day was about would Christ be considered be Lord by you?

Following Jesus as his disciple is a daily activity that entails prayer, daily commitment, daily surrender, daily worship, etc.

QUESTION: Are we daily affirming the Lordship of Christ in our lives. On a conscious and intentional level are we seeking to daily live for Christ

5. "and follow me"

The call of Jesus to follow Him is a call to obey Him (out of love for Him)

The call of Jesus to follow Him is a call to be his copycat/to emulate Him/ to be like Him in terms of character and conduct--- this is the work of the Holy Spirit in us

The call to follow Jesus is a call to hear and attend to His voice. It's a call to TRUST AND OBEY Him

6. Some further things about the call of Jesus to follow him

. There is a cost to following Jesus. He calls us to count the cost

This is why Jesus says what he does in Luke 9: 57-62 or14:27-33 READ TEXT

b. At stake is your soul and where you will spend eternity v.25-26 (Read)

In John 8:24 Jesus says "I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins"

In verses 25-26 of Luke 9 Jesus makes clear what's at stake. Shun Jesus here and he will shun you when you stand before his throne- and you will be cast out into eternal darkness and fire. Pursue the things of this world and realize this: It's to no advantage to gain the whole world and yet lose your soul.

c. Sayings YES to Jesus' call is so worth it! v.24

The cost temporary cost of following Jesus is worth it. The benefit is eternal life, peace with God, forgiveness, reward, Heaven as ones home, no fear of the judgment to come, the commendation of God.

d. Don't put off Jesus' call to follow Him

In Hebrews 4:7 it says "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts"

The call of the Scriptures is also to "Repent and live" Ezekiel 18:32

1 John 1:9 says "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."


The call of Jesus to every person is to FOLLOW HIM

His call requires that we COUNT THE COST of following Him

FOLLOWING CHRIST entails saying NO to sin, self, and Satan and yes to the things of God

FOLLOWING CHRIST entails a call to die and to suffer for the name of Christ. This is what Jesus meant when he said "take up your cross"

FOLLOWING JESUS is a DAILY THING-- of commitment, loving obedience, worship, surrender

As it regards the call of Christ to follow him, nothing less than your SOUL is a stake

COME TO JESUS. Don't be ashamed to call to Him Lord, Savior, friend, the apple of your eye, your greatest treasure.

Come to Jesus for the forgiveness of yours sins, peace with God, and eternal life.