Losing is Winning Sometimes

He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one, 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 the third day.”

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:21-27)

What we think we already know can get in the way of recognizing the truth. Look at what it did to the disciples. Why were the disciples surprised by Jesus’ execution after he had warned them about it so often? Whatever didn’t fit their beliefs about the Messiah—that he would restore the kingdom to Israel— they failed to hear. In common with all human beings, they only paid attention to what reinforced what they already believed. They were like the bigot who only notices the misbehavior of the people he despises because it proves his point about them.

Those who were led to be crucified were forced to bear their own crosses to the place where they would die. They were made participants in their own executions. Jesus told his disciples that he was going to die such a death and that those who followed him would hwave to suffer that same fate.

For many of his disciples, they did indeed follow Jesus in dying violently at the hands of the Roman government. But more profoundly, Jesus was trying to explain to them the significance of his upcoming death. He wanted them to understand that by being his disciples, they were going to participate in his suffering. Because of their faith, Jesus’ death on the cross would save their souls.

Listening to Jesus means that we have to stop listening to ourselves and all the other voices demanding our attention. We must let go of our concerns and listen to the concerns of Jesus, instead. Only then can our deepest concerns, concerns we might not even know we have, find resolution.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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