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Invitation to Take Up the Cross (9:23–27)
Luke 9:23 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.
Having outlined His own future, the Lord invited the disciples to follow Him. This would mean denying themselves and taking up their cross.
To deny self means willingly to renounce any so-called right to plan or choose, and to recognize His lordship in every area of life.
To take up the cross means to deliberately choose the kind of life He lived.
This involves:— The opposition of loved ones.— The reproach of the world.—Forsaking family and house and lands and the comforts of this life.— Complete dependence on God.—Obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit.— Proclamation of an unpopular message.— A pathway of loneliness.— Organized attacks from established religious leaders.— Suffering for righteousness’ sake.— Slander and shame.— Pouring out one’s life for others.— Death to self and to the world.
But it also involves laying hold of life that is life indeed! It means finding at last the reason for our existence. And it means eternal reward.
We instinctively recoil from a life of cross-bearing. Our minds are reluctant to believe that this could be God’s will for us. Yet the words of Christ “If anyone desires to come after Me” mean that nobody is excused and nobody is excepted.
Luke 9:24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
The natural tendency is to save our lives by selfish, complacent, routine, petty existences.
We may indulge our pleasures and appetites by basking in comfort, luxury, and ease, by living for the present, by trading our finest talents to the world in exchange for a few years of mock security.
But in the very act, we lose our lives, that is, we miss the true purpose of life and the profound spiritual pleasure that should go with it!
On the other hand, we may lose our lives for the Savior’s sake. Men think us mad if we fling our own selfish ambitions to the wind, if we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, if we yield ourselves unreservedly to Him.
But this life of abandonment is genuine living. It has a joy, a holy carefreeness, and a deep inward satisfaction that defies description.
Luke 9:25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?
As the Savior talked with the twelve, He realized that the desire for material riches might be a powerful deterrent against full surrender.
And so He said, in effect, “Suppose you could stockpile all the gold and silver in the whole world, could own all the real estate and property, all the stocks and bonds—everything of material value— and suppose that in your frantic effort to acquire all this you missed the true purpose of life, what good would it do you? You would have it for only a short while; then you would leave it forever. It would be an insane bargain to sell that one, short life for a few toys of dust.”
Luke 9:26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.
Another deterrent against total commitment to Christ is the fear of shame. It is completely irrational for a creature to be ashamed of his Creator, for a sinner to be ashamed of his Savior. And yet which of us is blameless?
The Lord recognized the possibility of shame and solemnly warned against it. If we avoid the shame by leading nominal Christian lives, by conforming to the herd, the Son of Man will be ashamed of us when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s glory, and in the glory of the holy angels.
He emphasizes the triple-splendored glory of His Second Advent as if to say that any shame or reproach we may endure for Him now will seem trifling when He appears in glory compared to the shame of those who now deny Him.
Luke 9:27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God.”
This mention of His glory forms the link with what follows. He now predicts that some of the disciples who were standing there would see the kingdom of God before they died. His words find their fulfillment in verses 28–36, the incident on the Mount of Transfiguration. The disciples were Peter, James, and John. On the Mount they saw a foreview of what it will be like when the Lord Jesus sets up His kingdom on earth.
Notice the continuity of the Lord’s teaching in this passage. He had just announced His own impending rejection, suffering, and death. He had called His disciples to follow Him in a life of selfdenial, suffering, and sacrifice. Now He says in effect, “But just remember! If you suffer with Me, you will reign with Me. Beyond the cross is the glory. The reward is all out of proportion to the cost.”
The Son of Man Transfigured (9:28–36)
Luke 9:28 Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. :29 As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.
It was about eight days later that Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. The location of this mountain is unknown, although high, snow-capped Mt. Hermon is a likely choice.
As the Lord was praying, His outward appearance began to change. An intriguing truth—that among the things that prayer changes is a man’s countenance. His face glowed with a bright radiance and His robe gleamed with dazzling whiteness.
As mentioned above, this prefigured the glory which would be His during His coming kingdom. While He was here on earth, His glory was ordinarily veiled in His body of flesh. He was here in humiliation, as a Bondslave. But during the Millennium, His glory will be fully revealed. All will see Him in all His splendor and majesty.
Professor W. H. Rogers puts it well:In the transfiguration, we have in miniature form all salient features of the future kingdom in manifestation. We see the Lord clothed in glory and not in the rags of humiliation.
We behold Moses in a glorified state, the representative of the regenerated who have passed through death into the kingdom.
We observe Elijah shrouded in glory, the representative of the redeemed who have entered the kingdom by translation.
There are three disciples, Peter, James and John, who are not glorified, the representatives of Israel in the flesh during the millennium.
Then there is the multitude at the foot of the mountain, representative of the nations who will be brought into the kingdom after it has been inaugurated.
Luke 9:30 And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, :31 who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
Moses and Elijah talked with Jesus about His decease (lit., exodus) which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
Hinson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 121). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
MacArthur, J. F., Jr., MacDonald, Farstad, Believers Bible; Hinson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 2195). Nashville: Thomas Nelson