How many of you have seen a sign being held up at some sort of sports event or a sign nailed to a telephone post that simply says JOHN 3:16? No scripture verbiage included … just the reference. I’m sure most of you … at least in the United States … can answer yes to that question.
And despite the absence of the actual scripture verbiage many, if not most, people know exactly what is written in John 3:16.
How about LUKE 9:23? Have you ever seen a sign anywhere with that reference? Odds are extremely high that your answer is no to that question.
Yet in the book Not a Fan, Kyle Idleman writes we need to embrace the words of Jesus found in both of these passages … we can’t embrace one to the exclusion of the other.
Let’s check out what Jesus teaches us in these two verses …
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever BELIEVES IN him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (ESV)
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and FOLLOW me.” Luke 9:23 (ESV)
A few more words from Not a Fan …
“John 3:16 emphasizes believing.
Luke 9:23 emphasizes following.
These two things must necessarily go together. There is no believing without following. There is no John 3:16 without Luke 9:23.”
And I would even go so far as to also state, there is no following without believing and there is no Luke 9:23 without John 3:16. In my mind, they are mutually exclusive. Following without believing can be as big a problem as believing without following.
Kyle Idleman then goes a little deeper into Luke 9:23 looking at three key phrases/words …
- come after me – this phrase teaches that we should passionately pursue Jesus. Most husbands have stories they proudly tell again and again of their passionate pursuit of their wives. But do we have similar stories we tell again and again of our passionate pursuit of Jesus?
- deny – this word teaches our need for total surrender of self to Jesus. This statement from the book challenges me, “You can’t call Jesus Lord without declaring yourself His slave.”
- take up his cross daily – this phrase teaches an everyday death to self. Despite what we have made the cross today, we need to remember that to Jesus the cross was a symbol of humiliation, suffering and death. The author leaves us with this convicting question, “Am I really carrying a cross if there is no suffering and sacrifice?”
Finally, you really can’t meditate upon Luke 9:23 without closing with Luke 9:24 …
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
Or as Jim Elliot, the missionary to the Auca Indians (and martyr) once wrote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Amen brothers and sisters! Amen!