This section had some hard stuff in it. I feel like I get it just a little better now that I’ve sat in it and thought about it for a while…
- V24-25 – More on “It’s not about me.” We should strive to be like Jesus, but never try to take the glory away from Him. Also, we should expect to go through the same kinds of things that Jesus experienced – so expect people to talk trash about you.
◊ Again, who am I asking to “follow me as I follow Christ”?
- V25 – Jesus is referring to what the Pharisees said in 9:34.
- V26 – People will say all kinds of awful things about our intentions and how they perceive our actions – both maliciously and out of plain ol’ misunderstanding. Eventually, the light of God’s judgement will be shed on all our actions and intentions.
◊ Do I always need to defend myself when people accuse me wrongly or is it ok to sometimes let it slide and let my actions and attitudes speak for themselves? (See 5:11) Jesus is confident enough in who He is as the Son of God, He doesn’t seem to be bothered by the things people say about Him.
- V27 – He’s been telling some people to keep His miracles to themselves, but the time was coming to shout it out.
- V28-33 – Don’t let your actions be affected by what you think others may or may not do in response. Fear of God results in not needing to fear anyone else. He is the only One that matters. But in your fear of Him, know that He cares for you intensely and knows you intimately. Because of your fear of God, you will acknowledge the role He plays in your life – or rather, the role you play in His story – before others. If you deny Jesus, He will deny you.
◊ Do I fear man more than I fear God? Loving Father, you deserve my devotion. I should care more about what You think than what others think. Help me to fear only You. Help me to get my identity only from You. Help me to not care what others think about me, but to be so confident in my status as Your adored daughter that nothing else matters.
- V28 – Jesus can see the big picture where our time on earth is just a puff of smoke. It’s our eternity with God that we need to be striving for.
- V29-31 – God loves me and knows me more intimately than anyone else. A good reminder in a long barrage of awful things that can/will happen to those who follow Christ.
- V32-33 – Another good reminder. If I choose to deny Christ (or simply don’t acknowledge Him) so that things will go easier for me on earth, I will be denied by Him for eternity.
- V34 – Here’s an interesting note from my Study Bible: “Jesus did not come to bring the kind of peace that glosses over deep differences just for the sake of superficial harmony. Conflict and disagreement will arise between those who choose to follow Christ and those who don’t. Yet we can look forward to the day when all conflict will be resolved. For other verses on Jesus as peacemaker, see Isaiah 9:6, Matthew 5:9, John 14:27”
◊ It seems like Jesus is basically saying “You’re going to have to choose sides here.” Have I clearly and firmly chosen His side, or do I try to fuzz the lines so we can all be on one happy side together? (It doesn’t work that way.)
- V35-36 – We cannot love our families instead of or above our love for God (see 8:21-22) but we love them better through and because of our love for God.
- V34-39 – This upside-down kingdom Jesus taught us about in chapters 5-7 – this kingdom of peacemakers, merciful, meek, etc; the place where leaders are servants and people do for others what they wish others will do for them, where God reigns in people’s hearts and their actions are all for His glory – it comes at a cost. There is only one way in to this kingdom; through the narrow gate of Jesus Christ. This will be a problem for a lot of people and it will cause division, even among families. But if I am to follow Jesus, I must put Him first – He must be my king and I must be His servant. Because how can I serve God well if there is another that I put before Him?
◊ Is obedience to Jesus first priority to me? Is there someone who consumes more of my devotion, time, thoughts, and attention?
- V38 – Having not been crucified yet, Jesus is using a shockingly gruesome term for submission. My Study Bible says the Romans made people carry their own crosses as a symbol of submission to the state. Carrying my cross means publicly submitting to the will of God and obeying Him, even if it means following Him to my death.
◊ Are there ways in which I refuse to take up my cross and follow Him?
- V39 – This sums up the whole section: If you live for yourself on earth, you’ll lose your life eternally. If you give your life to God while you’re on earth, you will discover what you were truly created to do and be in heaven.
◊ Am I looking for what will make me happy or am I looking for ways to serve God? Have I “lost my life” or am I still hanging on to bits of it?
- V40 – I am an ambassador for God, the Creator of the Universe! My authority comes from the tippy-top!
- V41-42 – When we help and learn from those who are serving God, we get in on their heavenly reward.
- V40-42 – These verses are well translated in the Message
◊ Where/how can I start small today?
Wrap up your quiet time by praying through the following questions:
- Based on this passage of Scripture, what can I thank God for?
- What do these verses tell me about God and His character?
- Based on this passage, is there anything I need to confess to God and ask forgiveness for?
- What do these verses remind me to pray for others?
- What do these verses move me to pray for myself?