Peter confesses Jesus as the messiah. Then Peter remonstrates against Jesus’ mission and is reprimanded.
Now Jesus talks about what truly following him looks like.
This has been over-interpreted through the centuries, resulting in self-flagellation and asceticism. Truthfully, activities like that focus on the self rather than on Jesus.
What Jesus wants is a reordering of priorities. Jesus comes first and our own needs and wants come underneath that in the priority list.
Take Up One’s Cross
Following Jesus has an element of danger and it is not lightly undertaken. One must be fearless in following Jesus, because our survival is less important than the cause we are promoting. We must be willing to put our necks in the noose. Who knows? It may come to that for some of us.
Lose One’s Life
You can’t save it anyway. The value proposition that makes good sense is to give it to Jesus.
Jesus will return and judge. Interestingly enough, the basis of judgment will not be what we have said or what we say we believe or whom we purport to follow, but our activity. It’s easy to choke on that and to rationalize it, because we are all sinners and have done stuff that deserves judgment.
Jesus seems to say that he will return in the lifetime of some of his disciples. There are many ingenious schemes to interpret this differently, but most of them sound like a foretaste of the glory and not the return of Jesus. I’d rather think that, like the prophets of the OT, these words of Jesus were put on hold as a matter of grace, to allow more gentiles to come into the kingdom. Just my take.
We are soft of discipleship these days. We are soft on taking up the cross. We are soft on denying ourselves. God have mercy.