Luke 9:18-27 – Come to Jesus

Luke 9:18-27 – Come to Jesus


Sunday, November 21, 2021  Brad Barrett

Luke 9:18-27

Come to Jesus

Years ago a good friend was telling me of a challenging yet encouraging day with his boys.  Their backyard bordered a farm field.  One day the boys were out playing in the open field and getting too far from the house.  So dad hollered at them to come back.  Well, they looked at dad for a moment.  What did they do?  They turned the opposite way and ran away farther out into the field.  So do you suppose dad was happy about that?

Dad took off running after them.  When he caught them he was rather upset with them, and they had a nice little chat out in the field.  The boys responded well.  They knew they had displeased their dad, and they were sorry for it.  He then told them to come back to the house, and as he started walking, they were tagging along behind.  Actually, the oldest was directly behind his dad by a few feet.  Dad asked him to come up beside him, but the oldest boy said with an earnest tone, “Dad, I want to stay right behind you to follow you in your footsteps.”

I was rather touched by that story.  To follow in the footsteps of dad.

That story reminds me a bit of our passage today.  The Lord Jesus Christ calls on us to follow him.  To get right behind him and follow in his footsteps, doing his will, imitating him, and obeying him.

Our sermon series this Fall is taking us through the Gospel of Luke.  The story of the remarkable Jesus Christ, a man unlike any other in history, without comparison.

Vs. 9:18-27

Our passage today is Luke 9.  Take your Scripture journals out.  Turn to page 72.  Luke 9:18.  Take notes in your journals, if that helps you to learn and remember. 

(Next week:  we begin looking at the Advent of Christ, the First Coming, through the month of December.  We will look at OT prophecies of him.  Some remarkable things.  And look at Luke chapters 1 and 2.)


Vs. 18-27 (ESV)

18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”

19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.”

20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one,

22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

Now let’s go back and look at it in more detail. 

First, vs. 18-20.

Vs. 18-20

Though Jesus asked the disciples who the crowds were saying he was, I suspect that he already knew the answer.  I think he asked the disciples that question because he was about to ask them what they thought about himself.   The crowds didn’t know for sure.  They speculated that Jesus was an old prophet risen from the dead.  John the Baptist.  Elijah.  Someone else.

The crowds were on the right track:  Jesus was indeed a prophet.  But he was not “one of old prophets who has risen.”

He was and is completely unique from the prophets whom God had sent before.

Hebrews 1:1–2 ESV Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

Peter had a fuller understanding than the crowds.  Not complete, but fuller.  He confessed that Jesus was the Christ of God.

Christ— This is the Greek word, equivalent to the Hebrew word for Messiah.  The word means, “anointed.”  Someone chosen and sacred from God.

There are many implications for this, and the Jewish people understood it well, based on OT prophecies.  We won’t dive very deep into this today but will save it for next Sunday when we begin our Advent series.  And we’ll start by looking at some OT prophecies about the Coming Messiah. 

One example of such a prophecy for the Messiah:

Psalm 2:7–9 ESV  The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

This Son, known as God’s Messiah, will rule over the nations.

So back to Peter, his confession of Jesus as the Messiah is highly significant.  But his understanding of the role of the Messiah was incomplete.

So we read on:

Vs. 21-22

21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one,

22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

This is the first of six times in Luke’s Gospel where Jesus prophesies of his coming suffering and resurrection.

This was a shocking moment for the disciples.  They didn’t see this one coming.  (We know that it was shocking because Peter rebukes Jesus for this audacious statement, per the parallels in Matt 16:22-23 & Mark 8:32-33.)

So why was this shocking?  Like Psalm 2 points to, the people of Israel were longing for a powerful, ruling Messiah as King who would crush the Roman government and deliver the people from their oppression.  Perhaps like Moses delivering Israel from the oppression of Egypt in the Book of Exodus.

Jesus’ declaration in Vs. 22 of his suffering and resurrection dashed all expectations that he was coming to conquer and reign as king. 

It may be a challenge for us today to grasp how much the people longed for this and how disappointing—how hope-crushing—it was that Jesus was not seeking this role.   Essentially, Jesus was going to be a different Messiah than they expected (for now).

And Jesus told them in vs. 21 to tell no one that he is the Christ.  Why?   We have to speculate why he said this.  I think it’s because of the people’s desire for a conquering king.  They were desperate for this, and may have tried to force him to become king.  (John 6:15 actually tells us of one instance when the people were about to attempt to force Jesus to become king.)

His time to conquer would come much later, and is actually still in the future for us today at the Second Coming of Jesus.  But at that time, Jesus’ purpose was to be a suffering Messiah who would rise from the dead to bring salvation to the world. 

Now let’s look at vs. 23-27 which is really one unit.  I’ll explain why as we go along.

Vs. 23

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Vs. 23 is challenging.  Jesus dashed the disciples’ hope of a conquering Messiah in vs. 22.  Now he further dashes their hope, perhaps hope of an easy life with a conquering King.

First he says, “If you would come after me…” 

To “come after him” is key.  He invites us not merely to forgiveness but more broadly he calls them to himself.   He is no mere “fire insurance policy” to guarantee we won’t burn in the judgment of hell, a policy we could simply put in our pockets and go along our way, ignoring him.  Jesus says that himself is the key.  He is the answer.  He is to be our longing.   We are to come to him, not merely come to a religious system or a religious order. 

How do we come to him?  He tells us.  To “come after” Jesus, he gives three things:


  1. Deny oneself

Followers must not be self-centered or self-indulgent.  This is not a call to mere moralism.  Such as, “Be a less selfish person.”  Or, “Give up certain foods for periods of time, like in Lent.”  Jesus is all about good morals.  But he is not saying eternal life is bound up in the behavior by itself. 

In one way, he is calling any would-be followers to reject their own will—to DENY their own will—and to embrace his will,  the will and teachings of Christ.

The essence of this message is found elsewhere with words like faith and repentance.   To repent is turn from sinful, selfish ways that lead to death…and instead turn to Christ.

Before Jesus saved me when I was 19 years old, I was clearly in the mode of denying Jesus and saying yes to myself.

Saying yes to my independent living.  Yes to ignoring God.  Yes to living however I pleased.

So whether we are seeking salvation in Christ, or have already found salvation and are now walking in the Christian life, Jesus calls us to “come after him.”  The first aspect is to deny ourselves.

Isn’t this a challenge for us?  There is something in our flesh that so badly wants to look out for self.  To live for our own pleasures.  To control our own lives.  In a way, we want to be Lord of our lives.

To come after Jesus is to deny all that.  To say “NO” to self.  We surrender ourselves to him.  He is Lord, we are not.

Second, to come after Jesus, he says we are to…

  1. Take up one’s cross daily

That Jesus will carry his cross in vs. 22 was shocking news to the disciples.  Also shocking is the news that all who follow him will carry a cross.  Jesus’ cross was to atone for sins.  Our cross is different, for it is to endure any suffering that comes from following Jesus.  Suffering by itself has no glory.  But suffering that comes from walking with Jesus, THAT is glory.

Some Christians would believe that if you faithfully follow Jesus, life will always go very well.   You will be healthy, wealthy, and prosperous.  Jesus’ words right here ought to make us question that theology.

To take up the cross daily is to live each day, not for self, but for Christ…. willing to endure pain and inconvenience and heartache and trouble for the sake of Jesus.  This is not something done once to get it out of the way.  It is to be done daily.

Third, to come after Jesus, we…

  1. Follow Jesus

We follow him.  Whatever direction he is going, we are right behind him.  Like that story I told of the oldest son following behind in his dad’s footsteps.

By following Jesus, we know…We are not alone.  We are not leading the way.  We are not charting our own path.

He is Lord.  He is in charge.  He is moving in his wise direction.  So we follow in step with him.  We do his will.  We live to please him. 

To be a true follower of Jesus means more than mere words or praying a sinner’s prayer.  To follow the Messiah is not simply to be wowed by the amazing miracles.  We follow his words, teachings, purpose, and authority.  We obey him completely.

So in summary from vs. 23, Jesus is calling us to change our allegiance…from allegiance to self to allegiance to the Lord of heaven and earth.  Salvation and life itself is not found on our own terms.  It is found on Jesus’ terms. 

Let’s continue reading. 

Vs. 24

24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

Jesus is continuing his call to “come after him” because he says, “For…”  Whoever would try to save his own life and cling to all he can grab, he will actually lose his life.  But for the one who forsakes control of the things of this life and instead looks to Jesus, that one will actually find life.

Do we want real life, life that is found only in Christ?  Jesus says, “It is all yours if you will yield to me…if you will orient yourself to me.”  Are we aligned with him?  Are we seeking him?  Are we acknowledging him?

Vs. 25

25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

Again, Jesus is continuing his thoughts on “coming after him,” for we see another “For.

Jesus is still addressing “self.”  The rhetorical question has an obvious answer:  It profits one absolutely nothing to gain all the world has to offer but lose one’s soul before God.

One author said:

 “It is a shame to live life, only to miss knowing the giver of life.” (Darrell Bock)

The loss of one’s soul, i.e., experiencing God’s judgment, is far too great a price to pay for possessing the whole world. 

As a 19-year old, I was wrestling with this very thought.  I wanted eternal life.  I wanted deliverance from God’s judgment.

But I couldn’t seem release my grip on my own life.  My reluctance to acknowledge I was a sinner.  My unwillingness to give up my partying lifestyle.  I wanted eternal life, but I wanted what the world had to offer more. 

It was only God’s mercy to pry my hands open from the tight grip I had on things that I loved but that could bring only death, not life.  God’s kindness softened my heart. 

This world has nothing of lasting value apart from Christ.

Jesus continues on:

Vs. 26

26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Once again we see Jesus continuing his topic of “coming after him,” for there is one more “For.

The shame Jesus speaks of  is probably synonymous with rejecting him and denying him—denying who he is and what he has taught.  If we do this, he will reject us.

I don’t believe that Jesus is speaking of the occasional lapses into shame and fear we feel when given opportunities to speak of him.  Say we sense the moment to speak to a co-worker about Jesus, but we chicken out.  That we should repent of, certainly.  But I don’t think that’s what Jesus is after here.  Rather, he is speaking of an outright rejection of him.

Jesus said something similar a short time later. 

Luke 12:9 ESV “… the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

Essentially, the issue is responding to Jesus’ teaching and person. To be ashamed of his words.  To reject his teachings.  A refusal to even associate with him publicly.

Once again we see a stark choice laid out for all of us:  Jesus is the issue here.  He is the choice.  He is the authority and Judge with whom one must deal.  His path is to be taken—or there is no path at all.

Summary so far

So looking at the passage so far, Jesus is the Christ of God, as Peter beautifully confessed (vs. 20).

But Jesus as the Messiah is not all that the disciples expected, that is, instead of conquering the oppressive Roman government, he is going to suffer terribly and rise from the dead into glory (vs. 21-22).

And now, following Christ is not all that the disciples expected.  It is not about following a set of rules, even God-inspired rules.  It is not about religious activity.  Such things do have a place.

Following Christ is about yielding…surrendering our very selves to him.  It is both a one-time decision and a day-by-day opportunity.


Essentially Jesus invites us to himself, for only in him do we find life.  Only in him will we receive forgiveness from sins.

Only in him are we delivered from God’s wrath and ushered into glory. 

Our final verse:

Vs. 27

27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

What Jesus meant here is not clear.  There is considerable debate about what precisely Jesus meant here, even as many as seven different views.

I may be wrong, but in my humble view, here’s what Jesus meant:  When Jesus says, “Some… will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God,” he refers in part to verse 28 on the Transfiguration…especially since Luke gives a specific time frame, saying that this was eight days later.    We won’t read about this until January after our Advent and Christmas series.

But essentially the Transfiguration was a heavenly glorification of Jesus’ body.  His face was brilliant like the sun, and his clothes were like the brightest, bleached linens.  He was “transfigured” into something other-worldly.

I believe this was a taste…just a taste of the kingdom of God Jesus speaks of in vs. 27.

Then the Transfiguration becomes a preview of what is to come at the resurrection and ascension when Jesus’ mortal body becomes immortal and he takes the kingdom of God to a new phase, we could say.

Some of the disciples standing there with Jesus were going to witness these things.

Jesus’ words here point to something glorious that is coming.  The fulfillment of the kingdom of God will be a day of great glory and honor.  And anyone who belongs to Jesus, having been saved by him, will share in that glory and honor forever and ever.  This is the hope of the Christian. 


So we’ve looked at Jesus’ challenging teaching here. 

What do we do now?  What is some significance for us today from Jesus’ words here in Luke 9??

I want to offer something very simple, but if you do it and do it sincerely, God can change your life by it.

Here’s what I offer:  That we learn to ask ourselves and one another good, honest, hard questions when we read the Scriptures.

The Scriptures ought not to be read like we might read other books like novels or biographies.  We can read those books for entertainment or information.  But the Scriptures are intended to penetrate our hearts and change our lives.

  A verse I think of often is:

Hebrews 4:12 NIV For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

The author is saying that there is something unique.  Something powerful.  Something in these very words of God sent from heaven to us, and these words have a power unlike anything else we will ever read.  These words are intended to penetrate far inside us, into places we don’t know how to get to.  The word of God can judge even our very thoughts.  Our motives.  This is remarkable.

So to take this thought from Hebrews and apply it to our passage today, we read these words and Jesus intends them to impact us.  We read them.  We study them.  We memorize them.  We talk about them.

And we can ask questions about them.  We don’t want to hurry through a passage like this and check it off a To Do list.

We slow down, consider it, and wonder how Jesus might want to connect it to life in 2021.

So let me give you some example questions to consider.

Vs. 23, to come after Jesus he says we should….

DENY OURSELVES.  To say no to self and yes to Jesus.

Here are just a couple of questions for you to ask AND ANSWER.

Is there anything I am currently saying “No” to Jesus?

Perhaps I need to apologize sincerely to someone, but I’m refusing.

Perhaps I need to complain less and give thanks more, but I’m resisting Jesus.

Do I have a hidden sin that I’m unwilling to bring into the light of Christ, who is both holy and kind?

TAKE UP OUR CROSS DAILY.  Be willing and ready to sacrifice for Jesus’ sake as I come after him.

Am I pursuingcomfort and avoiding helping others because it’s too costly or inconvenient?

Am I seeking approval from others instead of from Christ because of the pain I might feel if they reject me?

FOLLOW HIM.   Get right behind him and line up with his will, his plans, his commands.

What has God given to every believer to enable him/her to follow his Son?

How can I listen today to his will, his leadership, his truth, his promises, his commands? 

I know I have my own plans I’m following, but how can I discover what he wants…what his will is?


This rhetorical question has an obvious answer.  It does NOT profit us.

Here are some questions to consider:

Do I truly know Jesus?  Do I have eternal life?  If I do not, what stands in my way? 

Do desires for fame and satisfaction and respect?  Are the things of this world that I think will give me lasting pleasure distracting me from Jesus who actually offers eternal pleasure and hope and life?

May we slow down.  Read this remarkable book.  Ask good questions to ourselves and to one another.  Then pray for God’s gracious help to find the answers you need. 


Let’s bring this to a close.

Jesus is calling us to himself, and there we will find true life.  And the path to him and to the life he offers is through death—first his death and then ours—death to self, surrendering to him. 

Jesus calls us to “all.”  To surrender all to him.  To love him with all our hearts, our minds, our very soul. 

We can find this message throughout the NT,  though spoken in different terms.

The Apostle Paul talked about his drive in the Christian life.

2 Corinthians 5:14–15 NIV  For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

This has been my life verse for 40 years.

At the core of Paul’s motivation is not guilt or shame or penance.  No, the love of God is what drives him.

The reason that Jesus died is to give us life.  To rescue us from God’s judgment.  And once we have been given life, he calls us to stop living for ourselves but instead live for him who died and rose from the dead. 

May we come after Jesus and follow him.