Then Yeshua was saying to everyone, “If anyone wants to follow Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross every day, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. Luke 9: 23-24, TLV
Deny Yourself. Really? Our Savior’s statement probably wouldn’t fly in today’s world — follower of Jesus or not. To deny ourselves means we put others before our own needs. It was a strong exhortation that Yeshua made to His disciples — and ultimately, to us.
The context of this verse is especially relevant.
When the emissaries [disciples] returned, they described to Yeshua [Jesus] all they had done. Then He took them along and withdrew privately to a city named Bethsaida. (vs. 10, TLV)
Chapter 9 overflows with incredible miracles and demonstrations of Jesus’ authority. The disciples had recently returned from their first evangelistic trip. Before they left, Yeshua had imbued them with His power and authority. When they returned, imagine how excited they were to tell Him how they had been the conduits of that power and authority. Pretty heady stuff, yes?
Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Master, even the demons submit to us in Your name!” (Luke 10:17, TLV)
When Jesus sent out a new group, “the seventy,” upon their triumphant return, He once again had to ground His disciples in reality.
“Nevertheless, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names have been written in the heavens.” (Luke 10:20, TLV)
Here’s how we’re tying this together. To walk in the power and authority of Yeshua is heavenly ground. While we were created to follow our LORD Messiah, we are still encased in flesh — corrupted and corruptible flesh.
The 19th century British politician Lord Acton said, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” To protect His disciples, Jesus had to remind them to ground themselves in who they were, and who He was. He is God, we are not.
Today, all around us, we see His disciples reveling in the gifts, authority, and the power God has bestowed upon them. With the ease of media exposure, lights, fog machines, and technology it is harder and harder to deny ourselves and take up our cross each and every day. Too often we want to abide not in the place of humility, but of power.
“Amen, amen I tell you, he who puts his trust in Me, the works that I do he will do; and greater than these he will do, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14, TLV)
Our Father wants us to experience that amazing joy, but He also knows our frailties. With every wonderous event in our lives, we must return to the place of “denying ourselves and taking up our cross.” Without that grounding, the enemy can so easily enter and destroy the good that was done. Using pride and greed and the need for more power, great leaders have been “absolutely corrupted.”
When we experience the joyous reaction to a miracle God does through us, praise Him, then purposely in the quiet of the aftermath, humble ourselves and ask the Holy Spirit how we can purposely deny ourselves and take up our cross. It’s for our protection and ultimately, it is how we truly glorify GOD and not ourselves.
Just something to think about.