Monday, August 30, 2010

Jesus' template for discipleship

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Luke 9:10-27

TO CHEW ON: "'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.'" Luke 9:23

Part of our reading today is Jesus' private and direct instructions to His disciples. In it He tells them plainly, about a year before the events, that things will not end well for Him (vs. 22). To those who continue following Him despite all this, He explains what such loyalty involves.

Let's look at His instructions phrase by phrase to discover more about what being a disciple means for us as well.

"If anyone desires to come after Me..." Following Jesus is not something that is forced on us. We do it out of our desire or volition — though it is a desire that is put in us, in the first place, by God Himself (John 6:44).

"...let him deny himself..." "Understand and accept that discipleship means forsaking all selfish personal ambition," says a study note in my Bible. To me this means submitting every plan and goal to His lordship, every decision to Him for the final say.

"...and take up his cross..." This isn't startling until we think about what a cross was in the time of Jesus — an instrument of death for criminals. Taking up His cross was what Jesus was forced to do literally as He went from Jerusalem to Golgotha. In our day we might say, pick up your gun, or noose or lethal injection as a reminder of how dead you are to yourself.

"...daily..." This rejection of the self-life happens again every morning. Though it may begin with a crisis decision, we need to renew our commitment to it every day.

"...and follow Me."
"With Jesus, righteousness no longer consists of observance of an external legal code. He likens it to an apprenticeship to Himself as Master Teacher through the Holy Spirit" (Spirit Filled Life Bible p. 1439).

I like that: "apprenticeship to Himself as Master Teacher." For the life of a disciple is not turning one's back on selfish ambition toward a life of nothingness. Instead it is such a rejection so that the powerful life Jesus can have full sway in and through us.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I want to be this kind of a disciple. Please teach me what it means to take up my cross daily and follow you. Amen.

MORE: "Jesus I My Cross Have Taken"

I love this modern rendition of this classic - by Henry F. Lyte - 1824. (Sorry, there's no info on who the singer is.)

Lyrics are here. (You may want to turn off the player on upper left of the cyberhymnal page if you're following the lyrics along with the YouTube singer.)

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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