Following the Leader
Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23
In the sky over our house, three fighter jets scream through the sky—flying in formation so close together they appear to be one. “Wow,” I say to my husband, Dan. “Impressive,” he agrees. We live near an Air Force base and it’s not unusual to see such sights.
Every time these jets fly over, however, I have the same question: How can they fly so close together and not lose control? One obvious reason, I learned, is humility. Trusting that the lead pilot is traveling at precisely the correct speed and trajectory, the wing pilots surrender any desire to switch directions or question their leader’s path. Instead, they get in formation and closely follow. The result? A more powerful team.
It’s no different for followers of Jesus. He says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
His path was one of self-denial and suffering, which can be hard to follow. But to be His effective disciples, we too are invited to put aside selfish desires and pick up spiritual burdens daily—serving others first instead of ourselves, for example—as we closely follow Him.
It’s quite a sight, this humbling, close walk with God. Following His lead, and staying so close, we can appear with Christ as one. Then others won’t see us, they’ll see Him. There’s a simple word for what that looks like: “Wow!”
Please, God, draw us close to You. Fill us with Your Spirit of love and joy and peace. Enable us to be a shining light in our world.
Jesus had been proclaiming His identity and mission for years, and now His closest followers understood who He is. But Jesus answers Peter’s confession that Jesus is “God’s Messiah” (Luke 9:20) with a curious warning “not to tell this to anyone” (v. 21). Jesus says in no uncertain terms that the disciples should keep quiet about His identity. Why would Jesus tell them not to let people know who He is? The answer may be in verse 22, specifically in the word must. Spreading Jesus’s true identity may have interfered with His larger mission. He needed to die, and if the crowds knew He was the Messiah, they may have taken actions that might have interfered, such as making Him king by force (John 6:15) or perhaps stoning Him (10:31). Jesus told them to keep His identity a secret for the sake of His mission—“to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).