“And he [Jesus] said to all, “If any one would come
after me, let him deny himself and take up
his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
The ninth chapter of Luke is just full of stories: Jesus called the twelve together and sent them out giving them power to heal; Herod began his plotting against Jesus; Jesus fed the five thousand men, plus women and children, who were there to hear him preach; Jesus went away to pray and the apostles followed him to ask questions; the Transfiguration on the mountain; Jesus cast the demon from the son of a follower; and Jesus and his followers began the trip to Jerusalem. It is just packed with stories.
And right in the middle of all those stories is the call to people to be his followers. It’s not an easy call to say yes to. Putting Jesus first in our lives and taking up burdens is hard. Following Jesus is hard. Look at all the things Luke recounted in just that one chapter.
Some days you may feel as though you are putting up with many of the things that were coming at Jesus during that period of time. Needs of people around him were myriad. Questions were thrown at him with great frequency – and then people argued with him about his answers. Plots against him were abounding. If that’s how you feel, you may be pretty unhappy.
And yet, when Jesus spoke to his disciples, he told them to find encouragement from the presence of God in their lives and enthusiasm for every single day. That doesn’t mean bad stuff won’t happen to us or that we are expected to always “be happy.” It does mean that we are to lean on God’s goodness and keep on keeping on.
So, my challenge to you for these two months is to lean into God’s grace, know that God will be with you in the midst of your troubles, and follow in the path Jesus trod. It won’t be easy, but that’s why it’s called a challenge!