Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
The gospel refers to the gospel of Christ or the gospel of God or the gospel of the kingdom. These are all different labels for the gospel of grace. See entry for The Gospel.
Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead,
Herod the tetrarch; see entry for Luke 3:1.
saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.”
(a) The Son of Man; see entry for Matt. 8:20.
(b) The third day; see entry for Matt. 17:23.
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
(a) If anyone wishes to come. God does not force us but he invites us to come to his banqueting table.
(b) Deny himself. Trust Jesus instead of yourself.
To deny yourself means living every day out of the glorious relationship you have with the Lord. It is refusing to fall back to the inferior ways of the flesh that you walked in when you were an unbeliever, but it is standing firm in the freedom of Christ.
Contrary to what is sometimes taught, denying self does not mean denying your needs, appetites and desires. Abstaining from food, Facebook, or fun won’t make you righteous and holy. The ancient message of self-denial is nothing more than the asceticism dressed up in religious jargon. It is a message that promotes self-righteousness and DIY religiosity.
(c) Take up his cross. The way to salvation is through the cross of Christ.
The reason most Christians struggle to live the Christian life is they do not know they have died with Christ. Yet Paul says so again and again. “You died with Christ” (Col 2:20). “We died with Christ” (Rom 6:8). “We died” (2 Cor. 5:14). “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
When you were baptized or placed into Christ, you were baptized into his death (see entry for Rom 6:3). In a manner of speaking, his cross became your cross. This may be the single most important thing that ever happened to you, yet many Christians are unaware of it. And since they don’t know that they died with Christ, they are constantly trying to die.
(d) Daily. We ought to value the finished work of the cross every day.
The take up your cross and follow me verse is found in two other gospels (Matt. 16:24, Mark 8:34), but only Luke includes the word daily. We don’t die daily – once will do the trick – and we don’t get born again every day. But every day we get to choose whether we walk after the old way of the flesh or the new way of the spirit.
Say you hear a message that says you need to fast and pray to become spiritually mature. You decide to fast and pray. Immediately you are no longer walking by the spirit. You are no longer trusting in the finished work of the cross. You are trusting in your own fasting and praying to make you mature. Where does the Lord fit in this picture? He doesn’t, and that’s the problem. Dead religion is a faithless way to live.
(e) Follow Me. The way to salvation is through Jesus and his cross.
Further reading: “Take up your cross daily”
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
(a) Save his life. The original word for life (psuchē) usually refers to soul-life. (The word psychology comes from the word psuchē.) It is the fleshly life we inherit from Adam.
(b) Will lose it. Live for the appetites of the flesh and you will lose your true self. Run after the inferior pleasures of the world and you will lose your soul. What profit is that (Matt. 16:26)?
(c) Loses his life for My sake. There are two ways to lose your life. The first is to be consumed by your own appetites until your life is little more than eating and drinking and running after fleeting pleasures. The second is to turn your back on that inferior life because you have found something better by far.
(d) Will save it. Real life – the kind Jesus offers – is found in fellowship with God.
The bottom-line hasn’t changed. God is inviting us to a love-relationship based on trust. He wants us to look to him as our Source (Matt. 6:25). See entry for New Life.
“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
(a) The Father; see entry for Luke 2:49.
(b) The holy angels; see entry for Mark 8:38.
“But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
Will not taste death. All of the disciples, except Judas, would be alive to see the Son of Man ascending into heaven and coming into his kingdom. Peter saw it and later wrote, “We were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Pet. 1:16).
Further reading: “They will not taste death”
Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!”
My Son. Some manuscripts have “this is my beloved Son,” and this is how it appears in the other Gospel accounts (Matt. 17:5, Mark 9:7).
and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him.
Messengers. The original word (aggelos) is often translated as angel, but the context suggests Jesus sent people. When he wrote letters to the seven churches of Revelation, they were addressed to angels or messengers, meaning they were address to those who led the churches (see entry for Rev. 2:1).
But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
(a) No one, after putting his hand to the plow. Count the cost of following Christ.
Jesus is not speaking to believers but those who have not yet decided to follow him. He’s saying, “I’m an all-or-nothing proposition.” Just as you can’t be single and married at the same time, you can’t follow and not follow Jesus at the same time.
(b) Fit. Those who leap in wholeheartedly are a good fit for the kingdom. Those who are double-minded and unstable are a miserable fit. They’re at the party but not on the dance floor. They’re at the banquet but they’re not eating.
(c) Fit for the kingdom of God. We must forsake all to enter the kingdom.
Jesus doesn’t want us doing things by half. His kingdom is not something you accommodate to your life like a golf-club membership. His kingdom is like a party with the best music, food, and drink. Jesus is saying, “Don’t be a wall-flower. Get out on the dance floor with me!”
Some translations say, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” This gives the impression Jesus is looking for hard workers. However, the words for service aren’t in the Bible and his yoke is easy and light (Matt 11:29-30).
The takeaway is not “work hard for Jesus” but “are you ready for the adventure of life shared with Christ?” Jesus offers us rest and life, not work and servitude.
Further reading: “Keep plowing or die!”
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