Read Luke 7:1–9:50
Luke 9:18-21, 23-2518One day Jesus left the crowds to pray alone. Only his disciples were with him, and he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”19“Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other ancient prophets risen from the dead.”20Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah sent from God!”21Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone who he was. . . .23Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.24If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.25And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?”
The start of a new year is a common occasion for making resolutions—from becoming more fit, to serving in the community, to sticking to spiritual disciplines.
Our commitment is high; we can’t be swayed by man or beast—and then the second week of the year rolls along, and we begin to wonder, Is it really worth it?
In this reading, Jesus speaks to those of us whose resolve has begun to dissolve. He demands commitment and speaks clearly about what it will take to follow him. But he does not ask us to do anything he would not do himself, and demonstrates his own commitment to people by reaching out to the lowest in society, calming John the Baptist’s fears, and feeding thousands of people.
As you read, consider what you can do to be more like Christ.
To follow Jesus, sooner or later we must submit our wants and desires to his desires for us.
We must stop serving ourselves and start serving him. If that means selling something, we sell it. If it means stopping a certain behavior, we stop it. If it means doing something we don’t want to do, we do it.
It means the end of what we want and the beginning of what Jesus wants. That is why Jesus says, “If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it”—because only by giving it up to Jesus can you gain eternal life.
Is it worth it?
If you have any doubt, Jesus makes a good case for doing so: “What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?” (Luke 9:25). Sure, there’s a price to be paid for following Jesus, but those who pay it also receive an eternal benefit.
Our resolve to be fully and completely dedicated to Christ is the only sure way by which we stay fruitful. Let recognize and appreciate the wonderful privilege that it is to serve the Lord.