Then he said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
The pathway to real discipleship goes through Luke 9:23. You cannot follow in the footsteps of the Master without the application of these words that flowed from the lips of Him who subjected Himself to the Heavenly Father in the same way.
In His earth walk Jesus presented Himself as a daily offering to the Father. This was the pattern He set. This was the key that unlocked the door to the room of fellowship Jesus experienced and enjoyed with the Father each and every day. And Jesus has called each of His followers up and into that room. Luke 9:23 is the door!
The cost to access the same room of fellowship Jesus accessed each day of His life is nothing short of full ownership. “And He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Cor 5:15). It’s perfectly fine to love life (2 Pet 3:10) as long as it’s not your own life (John 12:25). There is a place of death and life where Christ reigns in the body.
What a lovely place to be in! From an earthly perspective and to the carnal mind this may seem like a grievous thing to deny yourself and take up your daily cross, but this is only because you have not fully understood the measure of hindrance your flesh has imposed upon the life of Christ within you. If you have only tasted the old wine you will not really know how much better the new wine is. Luke 9:23 is the doorway into the new wine of fellowship with the Trinity. Once you get in and you lose your life you will gain another. You will move from the natural into an amazing grace. The Spirit will begin to work a meekness of the Lamb of God into your soul.
If you want what is on the other side of the cross you’ve got to go through Luke 9:23. When you do, then love will transform you. The Spirit of God will begin to purge you of the things of the flesh and the blood of the Lamb will cleanse you. You will be more one with the Lord. This is the way to come into agreement with the perfect will of God. Anything less than this crucified walk will produce an unsanctified mixture of the flesh and worldliness in your soul that is not conducive to life in the Spirit.
The beginning of our transformation comes only when we come to the end of our own self-sufficiency. It is that ministry of death that leads to life. You, through the Spirit, must put the flesh to death daily for the flesh can never please God. Even Jesus had to spend nights alone with the Father to stay in that blessed place of submission. You can be a disappointment to the Lord if you become lukewarm and complacent and stay in a place where sin and the flesh have the ascendancy in your life. Be ever so watchful and careful of coming under the influence of a self-pleasing spirit where you draw back from a whole-hearted and complete devotion to Jesus.
You cannot bypass the cross. There are no shortcuts. There has been a general superficiality of the gospel in our culture that deceives us into believing that we can attain to great spiritual heights without going the route of Luke 9:23. If you believe this you are putting yourself above the Master (Mat 10:24-25).
Was it not Jesus who said that He could do nothing of Himself (John 5:19)? Was it not Jesus who said that He came not to do His own will, but the will of the Father (John 6:38)? Was it not Jesus who learned obedience even through the things which He suffered (Heb 5:8), becoming obedient even to the death of the cross (Phil 2:8)? Are we more than the Master? Are we better than He was in His earth walk? Are we not called to live as He lived and to follow in His steps (1 John 2:6, 1 Pet 2:21)?
Where are the signs of this cross-walk in the body of Christ? And where is the message of the cross in our gospel? Recently I heard of a major Christian media consultant who said that the reason for the lack of substance and weighty messages on Christian television today is because the average viewer doesn’t have an appetite for it. Most only have an appetite to hear how wonderful they are, and how rich and blessed they can become. If the cross were preached, viewers and funds would be lost. What are these money-minded ministries building? Telling people what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear is wood, hay, and stubble. This should fill our hearts with great sorrow as it does Jesus.
When a well-known minister was allowed by Jesus through a prophetic vision to speak to the apostle Paul, Paul said there were two things that the Church attained to in his time that they quickly lost and must be recovered today. “You must recover the ministry and the message.” Here is his explanation of that statement.
“Except for a few small places in the world where there is great persecution or difficulties now, we can hardly recognize either the ministry or the message that is being preached today. Therefore the Church is now but a phantom of what it was even in our time, and we were far from what we were called to be. When we served, being in the ministry was the greatest sacrifice that one could make, and this reflected the message of the greatest sacrifice that was made—the cross. The cross is the power of God, and it is the center of all that we are called to live by. You have so little power to transform the minds and hearts of the disciples now because you do not live, and do not preach the cross. Therefore, we have great difficulty seeing much difference between the disciples and the heathen. This is not the gospel or the salvation with which we were entrusted. You must return to the cross.” (Joyner, The Final Quest)
How relevant is this word of wisdom from the Lord for the hour we live in today! The Church needs to awaken and respond to such a word.
For more information on similar themes please see The Real Gospel, The Real Spirit of Revival, and The Journal of a Journey. http://www.amazon.com/Bert-M.-Farias/e/B001KDRLRG