This week, holy week, I've been trying read and meditate on scriptures that focus on Jesus's last week before his crucifixion. Today, something else caught my eye as I turned the pages of my Bible, but in every way it so perfectly relates to this week, Jesus's purpose in coming and dying, and to thoughts I've been sharing and discussing with friends lately.
Luke 14:25-33 are verses that are probably familiar to most of us. Let me try to share a bit of this, and some of Matthew Henry's commentary on these verses, along with some interesting points that Bob Burney made on these verses at a marriage conference I recently attended.
Luke 14:26 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.
Matthew Henry states, "Christ's disciples must be willing to forsake that which was very dear, rather than forsake their interest in Christ. He is not sincere, he will not be constant and persevering unless he loves Christ better than anything in this world--even his own life.Man can look on houses and lands with contempt, but every good man loves his relatives; and yet if he becomes a disciple of Christ, he must comparatively hate them. Not that their persons must be in any degree hated, but our comfort and satisfaction in them must be lost and swallowed up in our love for Christ. When our duty to our parents comes into competition with our evident duty to Christ, we must give Christ the preference. Every man loves his own life, no man ever yet hated it; and we cannot be Christ's disciples if we do not love him better than our own lives." (than our SELF).
Simply said: If you put anyone above me, you can not be my disciple.
Luke 14:27 Whoever does not
bear his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Bob Burney commented on this and said that we as Christians often focus on this phrase "bear our cross" too much. We forget that crosses weren't meant to be carried around, they were made for crucifixion. Crosses are meant to die on, not carry around. We need to deny our selves, die to our selves daily (Luke 9:23) and follow Christ.
Luke 14:33 So therefore, any one of you who does not
renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
Bob went on to say the obvious: A crucified (dead) person has no rights.
Why can't I remember that with every breath? Die to myself. My SELF is so strong...and so selfish...it must be denied, crucified. When, I die to myself, just as Jesus did, I give up my rights and am able to truly love others as He loved me, and serve others as he served. It kind of goes in a circle:
Die to self: love one another as Christ loved us: serve others (repeat)
Well, I don't know if that makes any sense. It made sense to me this morning when I was struggling with dying to myself and giving up my rights. When we die to ourselves and give up our rights, and truly let the Lord reign on the throne of our hearts, then we will begin to bear fruit.
John 12:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat
falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone;
but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
Here are some good verses to remind us about dying to ourselves.
Here is an excellent sermon by John Piper on "As I Have Loved You, Love One Another". It fits right in with Holy Week readings too. (if you read this whole post and couldn't follow my train of thinking, then at least listen to this sermon, it will make it up to you)...really this is a good message that spurred me to dig into certain scriptures for myself as it shed light on things I had previously misunderstood.