Losing My Life in Jesus – Luke 9:23-27
Pastor Doug Klein
Why do we hold on so tightly to our lives? Why do we worry so much about what will happen to us? Why do we build so much of our lives around ourselves? Why are we always trying to find ourselves? As the old beer commercial put it, “You only go around once in life. You’ve got to grab for all the gusto that you can.” We can’t get the focus off of ourselves. Jesus enters the discussion with some very strong words. He said, “If you want to find yourself, you need to lose yourself in me.” If you insist on finding yourself, you will lose yourself forever. So, let’s take a deeper look at this amazing passage and learn about losing our life in Him.
The first principle is 1.) A new captivation. Luke 9:23.
It’s the reason we have to get out of bed in the morning. It’s not just a tedious obedience with the emphasis of taking another hill for God. It’s a Gospel centered transformation of our priorities from the inside out. We overcome our self-absorption and our obsession with protecting our own turf. It is the expulsive power of a new affection that replaces our inferior affections.
Jesus is closing the books on His ministry of almost three years in northern Galilee. He had welcomed the crowds and opened His heart to them through His proclamation of the Gospel. He had questioned his disciples concerning the crowd’s understanding of His identity and their own. But now the time had come for Jesus to challenge them concerning the meaning of discipleship. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” At the end of Luke 9, we see the interaction between Jesus and prospective followers who claim to want to come on their terms. “Foxes have holes and birds have nests but the Son of man has no place to lay his head.” Jesus was looking once again at the heart and looking beneath the words spoken by potential disciples.
Jesus is issuing a challenge to all who would follow him. When the challenges of life come upon us and our personal peace and affluence is threatened, are we willing to trust Him and follow Him no matter what?
The bottom line is that picking up our cross involves a total captivity not of our hearts. It’s not just the bending of our will but the melting of our heart into a new shape by the power and grace of God. We have a genuine reason to get out of bed each day and discover the beautiful things Jesus has for us. So here’s the question for each of us: Are we captivated by the beauty and glory of Jesus? Only then, will we be able to pick up our cross and follow Him.
The second principle is 2.) A new way of seeing my life. Luke 9:24-25.
Christ produces in us a transformed identity: an entirely new way of viewing our life and our priorities. We begin to overcome our obsession with protecting my turf and my agenda.
The Greek word psyche (soul) is used in this context instead of “bios” which refers specifically to our body life. In other words, Jesus is not talking about keeping yourself alive physically but rather he is pointing to our eternal soul that makes up the real us. I remember receiving advice years ago from a wise leader stating, “You will never find yourself by trying to find yourself.” It won’t work because everything ultimately is not about me but rather about God. So if you want to ultimately lose and find yourself in Jesus, you must build your life around who He ultimately is and what He has done for us on the cross.
So Jesus is dealing with our vain attempts to take from this world, things that will help us gain life. It might be career, money, relationships, etc. The premise is the same – we will find joy and fulfillment from this world. Jesus turns that argument on its head by stating that even if a man gains the whole world, he is still in danger of losing his own soul. The only way to lose our life and then find it is to build our life foundation on who Christ is and what he has done for us on the cross.
The third principle is 3.) A new experience of mercy. Luke 9:26-27.
It’s interesting here that Jesus injects a seemingly unrelated statement about us being ashamed of Him and the glory of the Gospel. It’s a sobering statement that we need to let sit on its own merit. But, it’s important that we take a long hard look at the times and ways we are ashamed of Jesus.
Now Jesus is evidently referring to the next passage included in Luke 9: the dramatic manifestation of the glory of Christ at the Transfiguration. Three of the disciples standing there would witness the glorified Christ in fullness as He will be when the Kingdom of God comes in power.
But there’s another underlying theme to this subsection: the mercy of Jesus expressed to us on the cross. The reason why the disciples and the crowd continued to refer to Elijah and the subsequent manifestation of fire upon the enemies of God. Even later in this chapter when a Samaritan village rejects the Gospel, the disciples ask Jesus whether they should call down fire upon that village.
54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell
fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”
49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism
to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!
But the Gospel reminds us that the fire of God’s righteous wrath did ultimately come down. But instead of coming down on undeserving sinners, it came down on his own Son on the cross. Jesus took the fire for us so that we could know and experience His glory. We follow Jesus faithfully because we have been given a new heart that is melted, amazed and astounded by the incredible mercy of God.
Our self-righteous judgmental attitudes and hearts are softened by the extraordinary mercy of God. Our spirits begin to take on a new gentleness.
So why are we holding on so tight and insisting on saving our lives? It’s because we don’t trust God with these difficult areas that don’t have an easy way out. So this is what I am going to do. I am going to lose my life in Jesus through trust and obedience. And then I’m going to find it again. And when I do, I will discover the person that God has truly meant me to be all long. It’s a beautiful thing to behold.
Faith Presbyterian Church
October 16, 2016