I hiked the hills close to our house in Southern California and complained out loud to God. Walking and talking as if my Savior walked with legs and arms swaying next to mine.
And then suddenly, through all the words, my soul burst out what I really wanted.
“I want to know who You really are and not just what preachers tell me You are!”
I wanted Jesus—I still do. Platitudes and moral lessons don’t satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts. We need the living God to live inside of us and reveal Himself to us. We need Jesus Himself.
And as I learned to experience God Himself—to seek Him and follow Him—something crazy happened: He asked me to actually follow Him. And it began to cost me my comfort for the sake of His glory.
Experiencing The Abundant Life
The disciples imagined Jesus conquering the Roman Empire and establishing himself as king on earth. After all, he came to bring the Kingdom of God.
But Jesus predicted his death, recorded two times in Luke 9 (repetition brings emphasis). His disciples didn’t understand—they didn’t have a reference point for a conquering King to come to His throne through death.
I imagine they just nodded in polite listening—not knowing what he was saying—but then Jesus took it a step further.
He told them whoever wants to be his disciple—must take up their cross and follow Him. In order to walk in power and authority in Christ, we must be willing to die?
Power and Authority to Die
Jesus gave his disciples power and authority—over every evil spirit and sickness. They traveled from town to town casting out demons and healing every disease (Luke 9:1–6).
And then Jesus tells them—you must be willing to lose your life for the sake of the kingdom by carrying their cross.
The cross was the tool of capitol punishment (death) for the first century, much like the electric chair in our nation—or the gallows in the medieval period.
Most of us live in a country where we are free to believe and worship. So, what does Jesus mean to take up our cross and follow Him? How can we open ourselves to His leading so we live in the power and authority He provides? The passage does not explicitly say, but here are some suggestions.