Tag Archives: take up your cross

Jules-Alexandre Grün - The End of Dinner, 1913

Luke 14 – Do What is Right Without Seeking Returns

In chapter 14 we begin with Jesus dining at the house of one of the Pharisees on the sabbath. While there he observes that one of the people is suffering from some sort of swelling. Jesus takes the opportunity to challenge the religious leaders with a question. He asks, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” (v 3, NASB) While the answer would seem obvious to us, we need to remember laws and rules that had been set up surrounding the sabbath, even including how far you could walk on the sabbath. So you know they are torn. Their understanding of the law would have them say know, but to say yes was to say that caring for a sick person was not important. So, they simply remained silent. Jesus seized the opportunity and pointed out that they would help their own sons or their oxen if the fell in a whole and while that would be “work” it would be the right thing to do. And again, they remained silent.

Jesus then tells a parable about a dinner party. He begins by telling people that when they arrive they should not seek the place of honor. It might not be for them and it would be humiliating to be asked to move “down” in front of everyone. Rather he tells them that they should seek the lowest place, then if they are asked to move it will be up and they will be honored. He concludes by saying, “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (v 11)

He continues the imagery of the dinner party by speaking of the host and saying not to invite friends, family, and wealthy neighbors. This seems an odd instruction from Jesus. Why should it matter about our relationship with those we invite. Jesus explains his reasoning by saying, “they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment.” (v 12) His point is to do things without looking for reward or repayment. He says, “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Vv 13 – 14)

Jesus continues his imagery of the dinner party with yet another parable. This time, the host has invited many people but when the time comes for the party, none of them will come. Instead, they all make excuses. The host becomes angry and has his servants “Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.” (v 21) When this does not fill the seats, he sends the servants even further out to do the same thing along the highways.  I believe the point of the parable is that those who do not respond to Christ call, will be shut out and instead, the call has been opened up to all who will respond.

For the final part of the chapter, we transition away from the dinner party image. Now Jesus says a peculiar thing. He says, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” (v 26) Is Jesus really saying that hating these people is necessary to follow him? I think what Jesus is using here an extreme to make his point. He is not saying to hate them, rather he is saying that if you truly follow him, then your relationships with others will seem like hate in comparison. This is not a new concept, it is an image that God himself used in the Old Testament when he says, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” (Malachi 1:2 – 3)

He follows this immediately by saying, “ Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (v 27)  From here Jesus expounds upon needed to know the cost before beginning anything. And while we may not know the exact cost of following Christ, Jesus makes it very clear that it will be high, one way or another.

He concludes with the image of salt that has lost its saltiness. Salt is used for flavor and preservation and it represents the followers of Christ in the world. When we fail to count the cost, when we fail to take up our cross, and when we fail to make the needed sacrifices, we lose our saltiness in the world.

My takeaways from this passage are: 1) It is always lawful (right) to do good. 2) We are not to seek our own glory, but to take the humblest of positions. Let any honor we receive comes from God. 3) We do not do things, to be repaid but to serve those who are most needy. 4) God’s invitation is to all who will respond. 5) We are to love God totally and unconditionally, beyond any relationship we have on earth. 6) There will be a cost to following Christ. And 7) we are worthless if we are not willing to make sacrifices to serve God.

I Surrender All

All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
O the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

Words by Judson W. Van DeVenter, 1896
Music by Winfield S. Weeden, 1896

 


Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
Matthew 19:16 – 30

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
Luke 9:23

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13


 

One of the fascinating traditions of New Year’s is that of resolutions. Those ideas we have, promises we make to be someone different, to do new and exciting things. The fact is that most of us who have made resolutions typically give up within a few weeks. Not surprising. They typically include ending established habits. But it is not easy to give up things that you have held dearly, even if it is to become a better person. But many times, that is what it takes. So we continue to try. It is this need to give up things held dear and change that permeates the theme of Judson W. Van DeVenter’s hymn, “I Surrender All.”

The hymn begins, “All to Jesus, I surrender; All to Him I freely give. I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live.” For those of us who have chosen to follow God, there is no greater commitment we can make, yet it is not always as easy as it may seem.

“All to Him I freely give.” These are words that we can so easily say, but not so easily live out. This is why Jesus said of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:23 – 24, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Like I said, the words are easy to say, but the reality is that living them out is not. Think about it, Jesus told this man that if he wanted to attain eternal life he had to “go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21) Go sell your possessions. Could you do this? Could any of us? The answer is, that I am sure that some people could do it, but stop and look at the reality of what Jesus was telling him. It was not to simply sell his belongings, it was to give up what was dearest to his heart. This is what the hymn is speaking of when it says, “All to Jesus, I surrender; All to Him I freely give.”

The hymn continues, “I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live.” You see, to make such a decision, to make such a commitment is not a one time thing. It is something that we must do again and again, each and every day. I wrote about this several years ago in a blog entitled “New Year’s Resolutions.” In it I wrote;

“You see, a resolution is not a one time thing. It is an ongoing commitment. In a world were we want, and to often get, things instantly, we need to slow down and accept that things take time. That changes will not just happen, but rather that we will need to work for them.”

The commitment that we put into following is a daily thing. This is why Jesus says in Luke 9:23, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

Yes, it is daily, but by God’s grace we do not face it alone. The hymn continues, “Make me, Savior, wholly Thine.” If we wish to change who we are and if we wish to surrender to Christ, then we can find the strength to do so in Him. In the same blog I referenced earlier, I also wrote;

“But remember this, we do not need to do this alone. We find accountability and support in friends and family. And for those of us who know Jesus as our personal Savior, we find our strength in him alone.”

The strength to make the change, the strength to surrender, is found in Christ alone. For, we “can do all this through him who gives (us) strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

Yes, we have been called by Christ to surrender all. We have been called to give up those things we hold most dear, that stand between us and following Christ. And Christ is there to strengthen us to surrender, if we will only turn to Him and trust Him. When we take these steps and begin to know what it truly means to surrender, then we can genuinely sing from our hearts,“All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.”

 

 

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