Luke 9:23-24 25ESV
23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
Context is always most revealing as to the true content and thrust of a verse. Previous to this discharge to “follow Jesus” and actually what that meant, we find ourselves in the last year of Jesus ministry. He begins to explain what will become of Him and His future death. Relevant passages are Matthew 16:21-26, Mark 8:31-37 and Luke 9:22-25. Upon Jesus question to the apostles “But who do you say that I am?” Peter proclaims Jesus Messiahship and Jesus begins to explain what must come to pass. We see Him signify this by explaining what Peter’s confession actually meant prophetically and beginning with the statement “From that time” (Matt 16:21) He explains 4 steps to His death and resurrection and what it would mean to follow Him.
These 4 steps include: 1st- He must go to Jerusalem, 2nd- in Jerusalem He must suffer at the hands of the elders and chief priests, 3rd- He would be killed and 4th – He would rise again securing salvation for all those who believe. Luke doesn’t include this prelude but Matthew does, oddly enough in this section we find the very one proclaiming Jesus to be the Messiah openly rebuking Jesus explanation of events, stating “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” After Jesus rebukes Peter with “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matt 6:23). We then see Him explain what it would mean to set your mind on the things of God.
I want to be very cautious with the text we are looking at as I always want to view it with James 3:1 with 1 Corinthians 4:5-6 in mind. I want to be very careful what I may be teaching in light of God’s Word and I want to be very mindful NOT to go beyond what is written. I don’t want to say more than the text says or IMPLIES, nor do I want to soft shoe it and minimize Luke 6:46 “why do you call me Lord, Lord and not do what I say?”.
23 And he said to all– originally this meant the apostles but one could conclude in verse 18 when Jesus asked “who do the crowds say that I am?” it may include them as well.
“If anyone would come after me”– Based on Luke 14:27 “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple”, “coming after Him” was a credential for being His disciple.
“let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me”-There are 3 conditions for what discipleship really involves.
• Denying oneself involves rejecting self-interest and self-fulfillment. Luke describes this later in 14:26 as “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Obviously hating these people in our lives is not the directive as we are called to Love God first and Love our neighbor as ourselves but having a priority of importance is in view. If there is anything that is more important than Jesus, one could say you are not denying yourself and following Him.
• The second condition involves “taking up your cross” which is another metaphor that in a sense could be seen in Jesus death on a cross. This ultimately was a commitment unto death.
• The last condition was to “follow Jesus” which is actually a present imperative, indicating that following Jesus must be continual and on a daily basis.
• All of these conditions beg the question do we fulfill the conditions of being His disciple? When we asked Him to forgive us of our sin and asked Him to be our Lord, incumbent in that request was a relinquishing of all of our so called “rights” and to “die daily” as the apostle Paul wrote in 1st Corinthians 15:31.
24 “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”– “This saying is an example of both antithetical and chiasmic parallelism: A = save; B = lose; b = lose; a = save. There is also a pun, in that the first use of “save” means a failure to deny oneself, but the second means to receive eternal life (cf. John 12:25). Conversely, to “lose” in the first instance means to suffer the judgment of hell, but in the second it means to deny oneself. This verse is also an example of paradox.” (Stein, R. H. (1992). Luke (Vol. 24, p. 279). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)
25 “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” “This verse is essentially a proverb stating that one should live in light of ultimate values. The loss of one’s soul, i.e., experiencing God’s judgment (cf. 10:14), is far too great a price to pay for possessing the whole world.” (Stein, R. H. (1992). Luke (Vol. 24, p. 279). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)
I was not trying to minimize what I believe the Scripture to be saying or being lazy by quoting Stein in the last two verses, but his voluminous commentary was summarized with very (what I to believe accurate) succinct propositions that gave the best exegetical description.
I knew this verse had a lot of teeth but after studying it I believe the language is even stronger than I thought.