Sacrifice is something that we do not hear much about in todays world. More like comfort. For some people sacrifice is something they will avoid at all cost because it evokes images of pain or forsaking something that you feel you need. The idea of sacrifice however is at the same time something that we admire in others. We applaud the sacrifice of a father who risks his life to save his children. We love hearing stories of war heroes who gave it all to save others. For the believer in Christ sacrifice is not just something God has done for us it is also something that we are called to on a daily basis.
Jesus shortly after Peters revelation of who Jesus is gives a short statement about what it will mean for those who follow Him. What Jesus said I believe might be different to what most believers are told what it means to become a believer today.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”Luke 9:23-27
Peter has this powerful revelation of who Jesus is and you can almost sense His wonder and excitement over this revelation. Jesus is the one whom all of Israel has been waiting for. The one who was promised right back in Genesis 3:15 has finally come. In the disciples mind this should of been something that was shouted from the roof tops…everyone needs to know about the coming of the Messiah. However Jesus tells them that this must be kept quiet. Perhaps the reason for this is because after the feeding of the 5,000 the scriptures mention that the crowd wanted to take Jesus by force and make him their leader.
This section in the scripture does tell us one thing. In order to know more about God we first need a revelation of his Son and what He actually came to do. Jesus is the one who first gave it all for us, he is the one who sacrificed everything when we were lost in our sin and rebellion.
Another thing this tells us is that the death of Jesus was not by accident. It was not Gods back up plan.
Genesis 3:15 (ESV):
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel
Jesus knew that it was coming and knew what he was sent to do. More then that Jesus willingly chooses the cross out of love for us and devotion to His Fathers will.
Notice also Jesus uses the term “Son of Man” in referring to Himself. This was Jesus favourite way of referring to Himself. Jesus uses this in the New Testament some 80 times. The title itself comes from the Old Testament and pointed to the coming Messiah. The religious leaders would of known this. They were the ones who studied the passages and knew the prophecies. However it is the ones who knew the most in their minds that rejected Jesus the most in their hearts. Maybe that is because Jesus did not fit their expectations. They wanted a king that would elevate them and Israel above everyone and thing.
Jesus sometimes will not fit into your expectations. However when we are confused about what God might be doing we are not to reject the Him like the religious leaders, we are to press into His word and into who He is more. Even if that means we sacrifice something. This is part of the cost of discipleship.
We know this because Jesus uses the concept of the cross to illustrate the cost of following Him. The cross was a brutal torture device that was used by Rome to stamp their rule and authority over everyone. It was a symbol of pain and death. People would sometimes hang for days on the cross screaming out in agony and Jesus uses this as a description of following Him.
We must distinguish between ἀκολουθείτω μοι, “follow Me loyally,” and ὀπίσω μου ἔρχεσθαι, “become My disciple.” There are three conditions of discipleship: self-denial, bearing one’s cross, and obedience.
This is a reversal of thinking, its different to how the world runs and thinks. We are to not just to follow Christ but by choosing Christ it will require us to take action. It will require us to sacrifice whatever it is that we have been holding onto that holds us back. Sacrificing that which we are devoted too other then Christ. This can be anything from pride or comfort. Perhaps popularity or having the latest fashion. It might even be willing to sacrifice your very life in order to reach others for Christ.
At the end of the day we can not be ashamed of Christ or the Gospel no matter the cost to us, because there will be a cost. The amazing message of Jesus is that when we fail and mess up, when we place other things before Jesus He is willing and able to forgive and restore us. Just like when Peter was restored after deny Jesus three times and restored as a disciple there is hope for you no matter who you are or what you have done.