Summary: Stations of the Cross, Station 1
THE WAY OF THE SAVIOR (LUKE 9:22-26)
When skater Michelle Kwan was 13, the junior skater who was still plotting her course in the world of figure skating went behind coach Frank Carroll’s back, submitted her application for senior competition, and aimed to transcend her age group. Kwan then pleaded with her coach to allow her to compete with skaters older than her, with more savvy and proper conditioning to peak at the right moment.
At that time, Carroll was an unknown coach, Kwan an obscure skater, and the coach was caught in an awkward dilemma of sending the precocious but eager teenager early to senior competition, where maturity was rewarded, and girlishness, play, and braces were penalized.
Coach Carroll, worried about, horrified for, and protective of his prized student at the same time, set the youngster aside, gazed seriously at his prized student, and told her of the emotional and physical demands of senior competition: “If you want to be a senior, you have to learn what it takes. You have to give up your baby feelings, that ‘I’m tired,?or ‘I’m sick.?You have to suffer.?(Los Angeles Times 1/4/93)
Kwan was delighted with her coach’s consent, took his advice to heart from then on, and spinned, jumped and skated her way to unprecedented heights. Two years later she swept all the major competitions in figure skating.
After Jesus had disclosed the first of his predictions, at Caesarea Phillipi, about his pending death, he issued a stringent call to the disciples, the crowd (Mk 8:24), and the wannabes, those who clamored to be with Him: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.?
What does it mean to deny oneself, take up one’s cross, and follow Jesus? What expectations does Jesus have for us when we follow Him? Can we live up to them? And in what way is the return greater than risk?
SELFLESSNESS IS NOT OPTIONAL
22And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.?23Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 26If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.?(Luke 9:22-26)
Augustine, the defender of the Christian faith who wrote ‘The Confessions? was a wild man before his conversion. His carnal lifestyle was outrageous even for a pagan’s standards, and he fathered a child out of wedlock. He even tricked his mother Monica, who begged him to return to Carthage, his hometown, and left her stranded at the dock while he boarded a ship to Rome for a taste of the city.
However, the renowned apologist accepted Christ in Rome, of all places, and after his conversion, he returned to Carthage, North Africa, desiring to put his past lifestyle behind him and served God as promised. Augustine’s first test came when he arrived at Carthage and saw a wicked former companion, who had played a big part in his slavish desires, had come to welcome him. Augustine trembled at the thought of his youthful passions, took a deep breath before disembarking the ship, and hurriedly walked past her to avoid any formal contact.
The woman who had come to meet Augustine was stunned, confused and upset by this lack of attention. She stopped him, thinking there must be a mistake, but he kept walking, and so she called out to him in a loud, spirited and alluring voice: “Augustine, Augustine, it is I, it is I.?Augustine took a glance, turned away immediately, and kept on walking with these words: “I know, I know, but is no longer I, it is no longer I.?(Adapted from 7,700 Illustrations # 6519)
The first criteria in following Jesus is to deny oneself. To deny oneself is not to hate oneself, or live in denial, or take up a vow of poverty. To hate oneself is to snub one’s heredity or personality, to live in denial is to deny reality, and to take up a vow of poverty is to escape society.
However, to deny oneself is to concede the right of ownership to one’s life and to transfer the deed to Him. It is to grant the power of attorney to Jesus Christ, so that God alone may have a lawful claim to your life. Errol Hulse said: “The practice of self-denial for the Christian means that his feelings, desires, and comforts take second place to the Lord’s will.?