[Jesus] then began to teach [his disciples] that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. …Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Christ’s Clear Words of Commitment
It comforts me to know I can count on Jesus’ words. He is the trustworthy teacher who spoke plainly to his disciples of his impending great anguish. He does not mask his words in euphemisms. He tells them clearly what they needed to know. “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected…”
Jesus’ words stand in sharp contrast to the broken commitments and vows, voiced by those around us. People speak words that are hollow and empty with dishonesty. Such words lead to disappointment and heartache. We hear the promises of those close to us that eventually prove to be unreliable. Moreover, I myself am pained by my own well-intended words that remain unfulfilled.
When Jesus speaks, he speaks the truth plainly. His words are spoken out of love for me. He wants me to know with undeniable certainty the depth of his love. Jesus speaks of death—his death!—that would win complete forgiveness for every sin.
Jesus not only speaks clearly but acts boldly to do exactly what he said he would do. “The Son of Man…must be killed.” He would humbly set aside his glory and unwaveringly walk to the cross where he would be crucified and die for me. Since Jesus speaks to me with sincerity, I sincerely confess my sin to him and trust his word of full pardon.
Christ also utters words of a conqueror! “After three days (I must) rise again.” Even as Jesus prepared to journey on the dark road to the cross of Calvary, his lips delivered a message of light and life. Jesus declared the Easter joy that would follow, after the gloom of suffering and death.
Since Jesus speaks the truth plainly, I can also trust him when he lovingly calls me to follow him. He does not promise that following him will make my life comfortable and carefree. Rather, he tells me plainly that there will be a cross to carry as His selfless love inspires me to deny my own sinful, selfish ways. For Jesus, I struggle with a Spirit-inspired determination against any adversity that may threaten my relationship with him. With every cross I bear, I know that Jesus and his word will be my strength. Then one day I will enjoy the eternal victory his death and resurrection won for me. I know this is true, for he has clearly told me so!
Dearest Jesus, you are the way and the truth and the life. Thank you for your words which inspire me to deny myself and to gladly follow you. Amen.
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