I love you!

Easier said, than done.

Do you remember when you first said to your spouse, “I love you.” When Judy and I were dating I knew I loved her. But I wasn’t sure I should tell her. I think it was because telling her was making something very private and personal – public. Once I said it, I couldn’t go back.

Many people today say things they really don’t mean or at least don’t plan to back it up. They make promises they don’t keep. It’s an election year – need I say more?

The original 12 followers of Jesus traveled with Him 24-7 for possibly 2 years before His final trip to Jerusalem to die for the sins of the world. Were they really with Him? Jesus needed a public confession. But the confession involved a cost – complete surrender. What does this confession mean? What is the cost of confession?

And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am? They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again. He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God. (Luke 9:18-20)

I find in this exchange two lessons…

1 – It is not enough to know what others say about Jesus.

Jesus wants the disciples to confess their belief. It didn’t matter what others thought. A true relationship with Jesus is personal and public.

2 – You can’t be wrong about Jesus and right with God.

Peter was exactly right. Jesus is the Christ (the Anointed One), the Son of God. Because Peter was right about Jesus, He was right about God.

With this confession, Jesus announced to His followers what He came to earth to do – die on a cross in Jerusalem for all mankind. This is the first time Jesus tells His disciples His destination.

The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. (Luke 9:22)

Just as His life will end in death, He expects His followers to be willing to die. A confession that Jesus is Christ involves radical self-denial, perhaps to the point of dying, while living in complete obedience to His commands.

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (Luke 9:23)

Following Jesus involves:

  • Self-denial – it’s the same Greek word when Peter denied He knew Jesus.
  • Cross bearing. Be willing to suffer hatred, ridicule and even death.
  • Perseverance. The Greek word is in the present tense and means to keep following and obeying.

Why would someone choose to live like this? Jesus gives 3 reasons: 

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:24-26)

1 – It is the opposite of this world. The world wants to gain. But for Jesus to gain we must lose. God’s world seems upside-down.

2 – Even if you had it all, It wouldn’t be worth it if you lost your soul.

3 – One day we will see Jesus. We don’t want Him ashamed of how we lived our life.

It is easier to wear a cross, than bear a cross.

In the movie Saving Private Ryan, a group of Army Rangers receive a mission to go deep into enemy territory to save Private Ryan. They hit skirmish after skirmish, and some of them are killed along the way. They finally get to where Private Ryan is holed up, and they say, “Come with us. We’re here to save you.” He says, “I’m not going. I have to stay here because there’s a big battle coming up, and I’m not going to abandon my fellow soldiers.”

What do the Rangers do? They all stay and fight, and almost everyone dies except Private Ryan. At the end, one of the main characters—played by Tom Hanks—is sitting on the ground. He’s been shot and he’s dying. But the battle has been won.

Private Ryan leans over to him, and Tom Hanks whispers, “Earn this.” But it’s very unlikely that any Ranger would say, “Earn this.” Why? Because the Ranger motto for the past two hundred years has been “I chose this.” In other words, I volunteered for this. So, if Tom Hanks was really a Ranger, he would have said, “I chose this. You don’t have to earn this. I give up my life for you. That’s my job.”

And so, when you look at the cross and see Jesus hanging there, what you don’t hear is “Earn this.” What He says is “I chose this. You don’t have to pay anything for it”