And when he had called the people to him with his disciples also, he said to them, Whoever will come after me, let him deny himself…
Like a commander addressing his soldiers. Full of clear vision and resolve.
I. THE AIM. (Ver. 38, Mark 9:1.) It is the overcoming of spiritual error and Satanic influence, and the establishment of the kingdom of God.
II. THE CONDITIONS OF ITS ATTAINMENT. (Ver. 34.) These are open to all. The multitude is addressed equally with the disciples. There appears to have been a disposition in many to join themselves to his fortunes. He therefore lays down the terms of his service, so that none may enter it without knowledge of its nature.
2. Cross-bearing. Not quite identical with the preceding, although involving it. "A Christian," says Luther, "is a Crucian (Morison). His cross," each having some personal and peculiar grief, sorrow, death, through which he has to pass. This cross he is to take up voluntarily, and to carry, long ere it shall have to bear him.
3. Obedience and imitation. There can be no self-assertion or private end to be sought by individual believers. "The footsteps of Jesus." It is a cross even as the Master has to be crucified. The same spirit and plan of moral life must be shown. He is our law and our example.
II. INCENTIVES. (Ver. 35-Mark 9:1.)
1. Christ's example and inspiration. He says not "Go," but "Come." He goes before, and shows the way.
2. The endeavor to save the lower "self will expose to certain destruction the higher self;" and The sacrifice of the lower "self" and its earthly condition, of satisfaction will be the salvation of the higher "self." "Life," or "soul," is used here ambiguously. A moral truism; a paradox to the worldly mind. "It is in self-denial that we first gain our true selves, recovering our personality again" (Lange).
3. The value of this higher life cannot be computed. All objective property is useless without that which is the subjective condition of its possession. Righteousness is that which makes individuality and the spiritual nature precious, and imparts the highest value to existence. Every man has to weigh the "world" against his "soul."
4. Recognition of Christ on earth is the condition of his recognition of us hereafter. It is not merely that we are "not to be ashamed;" we are to "glory" in him. The recognitions, the "well done" of Heaven, the highest reward. Even here the great triumphs of truth confer honor upon those who have striven for them.
5. The triumphs of the kingdom of God are not long ]PGBR> deferred. Some of Christ's hearers lived to see the overthrow of Jerusalem and the universal diffusion of the gospel. The spiritual vision is purified to discern the progress of truth in the world. Those victories which Christian morals and spirituality have already won within the experience of living Christians are an ample and abundant reward. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.