Jesus died today. While he still lived, he said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. ” (Luke 9:21) He left little room for misunderstanding when he proceeded to demonstrate by his very life what he meant.
We cling to life. We cling to our thoughts, our ambitions, our pleasures, our habits, our selfishness. The way that Jesus showed goes against the grain of me and my life. He is “not a tame lion” as C.S. Lewis once said. He gave all of himself, and he requests all of me.
“For whoever will save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:12) He promises us life for life. Again, he did not just say it; he lived it. He did not avoid his destiny; he knew where he was heading, and he knew what he was doing. He walked purposefully on the road to his certain death, and he did not turn from it.
On the third day he rose again. Death could not hold him in the grave. He overcame sin and death and promises the same thing to us. Only we must let go of ourselves.
“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet to lose or forfeit their very self?” (Luke 9:13) I recently heard someone say (and I paraphrase): men who believe in God have hope; men who do not believe in God only have hope that there really is no God. If I am wrong in my belief in God, what have I lost? Death comes to us all. We can not take anything with us when we go.
Why then do we cling so tightly to the selfish and small lives that we live?
Jesus showed a different way. He endured the cross for the joy set before him. He promised, “Where I go, I will prepare a place for you.” We have reason for the hope we have because three days later the tomb was empty. Jesus appeared to the disciples in glory and promised them the Holy Spirit before he ascended into heaven. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon them and empowered them. The Gospel has spread to the ends of the earth. We wait for the fulfillment of the promises of God when Jesus comes again. While scientists would rather believe that the world as we know it was brought to us by aliens, I am not ashamed to say that I believe in God, who created the heavens and the earth and all that is seen and unseen, who stooped to become a part of His creation in the form of a man, Jesus, who lived among us and showed us the way to gain relationship with Himself, and who leaves us the power to follow in that way in the form of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus died today. If we want what He has to give us, we must do as He did.