Surrendering All of Life to Jesus
Passage: Luke 9:18–9:27
What is the right response to the good news about Jesus? The right response is we surrender all of life to Jesus. How? First, by getting off the throne. Second, by obeying God no matter what. Third, by doing and saying what Jesus would do and say. Fourth, by handing our life over to him. Fifth, by staying loyal no matter what.
There are some decisions in life that are easy to make. What time should I wake up? What should I eat for breakfast? What shoes should I wear? Those decisions are easy because the effect they have on your life is minimal.
There are other decisions that are harder to make. They have a greater effect on your life. Katie and I just had to go through the car buying process and it took a month of search before we found a car because we didn’t want to buy a bad car. When we were buying our house, that was an even bigger decision. The car is several thousand dollars. The house was over a $100,000 dollars and is purchased with a loan that will take thirty years to pay back. We really didn’t want to make the wrong decision because it is one that will have decades of consequences.
When people are dating and thinking about getting engaged, that is a huge decision. You are committing yourself to spend the rest of your life with this person. This decision will affect you everyday of your life until you die.
For big decisions that have a huge effect on your life, you take time before making the decision. You consider carefully.
Today, we are starting a new series called “Living the Good News Together.” The name of our church is Good News Church. The good news about Jesus Christ - who he is and what he came to do - defines everything we do. This news changes everything. And when we hear news that changes everything, we need to live in light of that change. This series is about how we can live in light of the good news about Jesus together.
Take a moment to flip to the back of your song book. For seven weeks, we will be going over what we are all about as a church. The graphic at the back of our song book shows you what we will be covering (the same graphic is on our What Are We All About page). Today we will talk about our mission: surrendering all of life to Jesus and inviting others to do the same. The next five weeks we will talk about our Community Practices. Lastly, we will talk about our vision. If you are new or visiting, don’t worry. All of these topics will be relevant to you because they are all from passages in the bible.
In the first passage we read today from Luke 14, Jesus told potential followers that they must count the cost of following him because he requires that you give him everything. Our commitment to him must go deeper than our commitment to our families and even to ourselves. He wants people to make sure they know what it means to follow him.
Our second Scripture reading from Luke 9 is where we are going to focus today. This conversation clearly captures what Jesus asks of us. He asks us to make a big decision that will have a huge effect on our life.
The big question this passage answers is: What is the right response to the good news about Jesus? What is the right response to the good news about Jesus?
We will cover Luke 9:18-27 in two parts. The first part tells us what the good news about Jesus is. The second part answers our big question about the right response to this good news.
Let’s begin with the good news about Jesus in Luke chapter 9, verses 18 through 22. We’ll start by rereading verses 18 through 20.
The Good News About Jesus (Luke 9:18-22)
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.” (Luke 9:18-20)
This scene plays out right after Jesus has performed a huge miracle: he feeds over five thousand people with just five loaves of bread and two fish. While his disciples are still stunned from this experience, Jesus is praying and his disciples are with him. He is no longer surrounded by a crowd, but only by his closest followers. The word disciple means “learner.” And to learn in those days, you would follow someone to imitate what they teach and what they do.
Alone with his closest disciples, Jesus asks them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” Surely, Jesus has heard but his goal is to promote reflection. The disciples answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.”
Upon hearing their report of the crowd’s answers, he makes it personal: “But who do you say that I am?” One of the disciples named Peter acts as the spokesman when he answers, “The Christ of God.”
What does this answer mean? The word “Christ” means “anointed one.” In the Old Testament, kings were anointed with olive oil on their heads to symbolize God’s presence with them to rule. Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ of God recognizes that Jesus is the one God has anointed with his presence to rule as king. God promised that he would send a king to bring salvation to his people. This king would save them from their enemies and from their sins.
Jesus’ disciples have been following him, hearing his teaching, and seeing what he does for a while now and here Jesus wants to see what they have concluded about who he is. And right on the heels of the great miracle of feeding five thousand, Jesus’ identity is becoming clear to them: he is the promised King sent by God to bring salvation.
Jesus’ question to his disciples is a question each of us must answer: who do you say that I am? Today, there are many different views about who Jesus is, but there is only one right answer to the question. Most people would quickly agree that he was a good person with good things to say, but that is not the right answer. Muslims and others agree that he was a great prophet, but that is not the right answer. The only right answer is: the Christ of God. He is the king whom God has sent to bring salvation.
But if we answer that he is a king, we must also know what kind of king he is. The error that we can easily make is to define Jesus as the kind of king we want him to be instead of the kind of king he actually is. The Jewish people of Jesus’ day expected the Christ of God to win a political victory against the Roman Empire that conquered them. They expected the Christ to kick out the Romans and give their land back. So when Peter and the rest of the disciples say that Jesus is the Christ, their expectation is that he is going to win a glorious victory over the Romans and they are going to be at his side when he does so. Jesus knows this, so verse 21 says:
21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, (Luke 9:21)
He doesn’t want them spreading the news that he is the Christ. They must keep his identity concealed because they don’t fully understand the kind of king he is and anyone else who hears that he is the Christ is going to have the same wrong assumptions.
How many of you have played pictionary? You have one person who looks at a slip of paper which tells them something they have to draw. They draw it on a whiteboard while their team has to guess the picture as fast as possible. You can guess what someone is drawing before they have finished the whole picture sometimes.
Jesus is like the person drawing and the disciples are the people guessing. He has been drawing a picture of who he is and he isn’t finished yet. But the disciples have seen enough of the picture that they are able to get it right. However, even though they have figured out what he is drawing, if they don’t wait to let him finish the picture they will go tell people what the picture is and fill in the details for themselves. Jesus wants to finish drawing the picture so they can accurately tell people who he is. That’s why he wants them to keep his identity concealed for a while.
Jesus must teach them and show them the kind of king he is. He begins telling them in verse 22. He says:
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.” (Luke 9:22)
“Son of Man” is Jesus’ favorite title that he used for himself. In the Old Testament, the Son of Man was a person who would establish an everlasting kingdom. But Jesus says that he, as the Son of Man, must suffer, be rejected by Israel’s leaders, be killed, and then on the third day be resurrected from the dead.
How will Jesus rule as king if he is dead? How will he bring salvation? How will he set up an everlasting kingdom? Jesus is not marching to victory but to death. God sent him to Israel to be their king who would bring salvation but instead, Jesus says, the leaders of the nation will reject him and kill him.
What will become clear to Jesus’ disciples is that he is a king who saves people by dying in their place. The salvation he brings is different than they expected. His aim is to save us from our spiritual enemies that hold us in bondage: sin, Satan, and death. And in order to do that, he must suffer and die. Our refusal to follow God’s ways has a cost and Jesus paid it. He died the death our sins deserve in order to save us from our spiritual bondage.
Jesus conquered humanity’s spiritual enemies by dying but he did not stay dead. He was raised to life three days later and now rules as king of heaven and earth. Jesus would not be the king that the disciples expected; but he would be a far better one who brought salvation at the deepest level.
The big question this passage answers is: What is the right response to the good news about Jesus?
In these verses, we learn what the good news about Jesus is. The good news about Jesus is that he is the King sent by God to save us. He delivers us from the clutches of sin, Satan, and death through giving his own life. And now he is alive to reign and to rule forever. This is the good news of Christianity that has been announced all over the world for 2,000 years: the good news that Christ died for our sins and he was raised from the dead on the third day.
And now Jesus’ question comes to each of us: who do you say that I am? Each of us must answer that question and there is only one right answer.
With that question in our minds as well as the good news that Jesus is a king who died to save us and is alive today, let’s turn now to the second part of our passage which gives us the right response to the good news. Let’s reread verses 23 through 27.
The Right Response to the Good News (Luke 9:23-27)
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.” (Luke 9:23-27)
Once the disciples have answered the question about who Jesus is and he has filled in their picture with some details, Jesus now tells them what this means for them. The good news is that he is the king God has sent to bring salvation. How should they respond to the good news about who Jesus is? How should they respond to what he will do on their behalf? How should they respond to this King who will save them?
The big question this passage answers is: What is the right response to the good news about Jesus?
Jesus states the answer in several interconnecting and overlapping ways but the right response to the good news about Jesus can be summed up like this: we surrender all of life to Jesus. What is the right response to the good news about Jesus? We surrender all of life to Jesus. That’s the answer to our big question.
Jesus is God in the flesh and he asks of his disciples the same commitment God has always asked from people. God calls us to love him with all our heart, soul, and strength, to fear and reverence him above all else, to worship him alone and put no other gods before him, to humble ourselves and bow down before him, and to place our faith and trust in him.
As a church, we summarize this as surrendering all of life to Jesus. That is our mission statement. That is what everything we do is about. We all have something we put first in our lives. We all have something we put at the top of our priority list. Jesus calls us to put him first and to put him at the top of our priority list. That’s why our mission is to surrender all of life to Jesus.
The big question this passage answers is: What is the right response to the good news about Jesus? The answer is we surrender all of life to Jesus. And Jesus gives five ways we surrender all of life to him.
First, we surrender all of life to Jesus by getting off the throne. We surrender all of life to Jesus by getting off the throne. Jesus says if anyone would come after him, meaning if anyone wants to be called his disciple or a Christian, they must first deny themselves. To deny ourselves means we deny ourselves the right to be the king of our own lives. We get off the throne and we recognize Jesus as our king on the throne. He calls the shots. He sets the agenda. He is in control. We live for his kingdom instead of our kingdom of self. We put him first.
Second, we surrender all of life to Jesus by obeying God no matter what. We surrender all of life to Jesus by obeying God no matter what. Jesus says if anyone would come after him, they must deny themselves and take up their cross daily. Jesus is heading to his death on a cross - a Roman tool for executing people. And anyone who wants to be his disciple must take up their cross as well. Jesus went to his death and he calls us to do the same.
But Jesus accepted his death willingly because he was obeying God’s will to provide salvation for us. When we take up our cross, it means the person who puts themselves on the throne is gone. They walk to their death every day. We die to ourselves. We die to our agenda and our plan for our life and we submit to God’s. Jesus is on the throne now and we obey God no matter what just like him.
First, we surrender all of life to Jesus by getting off the throne. Second, we surrender all of life to Jesus by obeying God no matter what. Third, we surrender all of life to Jesus by doing and saying what he would do and say. We surrender all of life to Jesus by doing and saying what he would do and say. Jesus says if anyone would come after him, they must deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow him. This is a call to follow Jesus’ example and teaching. We do and say what he would do and say. But you can’t do this unless you do the first two. If you are still on the throne of your life and you are unwilling to obey God no matter what, you can’t follow Jesus’ example and teaching.
Fourth, we surrender all of life to Jesus by handing our life over to him. We surrender all of life to Jesus by handing our life over to him. After Jesus says if anyone would come after him, they must deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow him, he gives the reason why in verse 24. Why would anyone do this? Verse 24 says:
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? (Luke 9:24-25)
Jesus sums up the previous three answers as: losing our life for his sake. We hand it over to him. We give him the keys to drive and to take us where he wants to take us. He says the benefit is that only when we do that, will we truly save our life. If you try to save your own life by holding onto it, you will lose it - you will forfeit it and destroy it The benefit of surrendering all of life to Jesus is that you will save your life. We’ll come back to that benefit in a minute.
We surrender all of life to Jesus by handing our life over to him. Fifth, we surrender all of life to Jesus by staying loyal no matter what. We surrender all of life to Jesus by staying loyal no matter what. A question we might ask is: how does trying to save my life cause me to lose it and losing my life for Jesus save it? Jesus says in verse 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. (Luke 9:26)
Have you ever been in public with someone and they did something embarrassing and you didn’t want to be associated with them? You wanted to hide your face or didn’t want anybody to see you with them? Jesus is talking about people doing that sort of thing to him. They are willing to associate with him as long as nobody knows about it. They are loyal to him unless it will cost something. If people start criticizing Jesus, they will reject him. Jesus says that if you reject him now, he will reject later. If you aren’t loyal to him now, he won’t be loyal to you later. Being loyal to him means your main concern is not what others think of you but what Jesus thinks of you and what he wants you to do.
What Jesus points to in this verse is his return. In his first coming, he came humble to provide salvation by dying in our place. In his second coming, he will come in glory to judge the living and the dead. On that day, everyone who surrendered their life to him will be saved. But everyone who tried to save their own life and rejected him, he will judge and they will receive what is due for their sins: eternal death, condemnation, and separation from God.
We are naturally bent toward self-concern and self-interest. We are naturally bent toward wanting to save our lives. We want to make our lives better; we want happiness; we want to be safe and secure; we want to have comfort and peace; we want love and hope; we want what is best for ourselves. Jesus says here that if you really want to do what is best for yourself, if you truly have self-interest and self-concern, you will stop putting yourself first. The best thing you can do for yourself is surrender all of life to him. Then you will save your life. You will benefit from his life, death, and resurrection. When he comes in glory to judge, you won’t be filled with fear because he will receive you and commend you.
This is why our mission isn’t only about us but also about others. Our mission as a church is to surrender all of life to Jesus AND invite others to do the same. That’s part of our mission because Jesus commands us to do it and because it is the most loving act we can do for others. Everyone is on a spiritual quest looking for answers, for something that will quench their thirst for meaning, hope, joy, peace, and security. The bible tells us that those deep longings are only satisfied in Jesus. So out of obedience and out of love, we make it our mission to invite others to surrender all of life to Jesus. We’ll talk more about that in a few weeks when we cover our community practice of “Going as Messengers.”
Let’s consider how to apply all this to our life.
A truth that you need to knowis that Jesus is the best one to be in control of your life. He is the best one to call the shots. He is the best one to set the agenda. He is the best one to be in the driver’s seat. If your life is in Jesus’ hands, it is in much better care than if it is in your hands. The greatest joy, peace, freedom, hope, power, rest, comfort, and satisfaction are found when you stop gripping your life with white knuckles and release it to Jesus. He knows what is best for us.
But it is very hard for us to give over the keys of our life to someone else. We want to be in the driver’s seat. We want to call the shots. We want to set the agenda. We want to be in control. We want to be on the throne. The truth is that in our sinfulness and pride, we hate to be told what to do. We hate to be told “no.” Ever since sin entered the world, the gravitational pull in our lives is toward ourselves and we don’t want someone else to be in control of us. We don’t believe that someone else could take care of us better than we can.
Giving over control to someone else would mean we need to trust that other person more than we trust ourselves. Consider this. When you fly in an airplane, you are placing your life in the hands of someone else. You are trusting the pilot to keep you safe and get you to your destination. You have no idea how to fly the plane so you have to trust the pilot. They know what they are doing and you don’t. You have no choice but to trust them if you want to fly.
When it comes to Jesus, we need to recognize we have no idea what we are doing and he does. We have no choice but to trust him if we want our deepest longings satisfied and if we want to find true, eternal, spiritual life. We must place our life in his hands and trust him.
There are two big reasons we can trust him. First, we can trust him because he created us. Everything that exists was created by him and for him. If you want to know the ins and outs of a car and how it works and the best way to maintain it and keep it running well, you would want to ask the one who built. In the same way, Jesus built us and created us. He knows how we are made. He knows how to keep us whole and healthy. He knows what is best for us. So we can trust Jesus because he created us.
Second, we can trust Jesus because he gave his life for us. Think about friends or family that you trust the most. You might say that you trust them because they would do anything for you. Often when people make huge sacrifices for friends or when soldiers commit heroic deeds, they say that they did those things because the other person would have done the same for them. Jesus has already given his life for you. Jesus has already died for you. He has proven his love for you by dying for your sins. Who better to trust to be in control of your life? We can trust Jesus because he gave his life for us.
Hands: This week, think about this question: What areas of your life do you have marked as “off limits” to Jesus? Do you have areas marked as “restricted”? Do you have areas marked as “mine” instead of surrendered? Confess those to God and surrender control over to Jesus.
The big question this passage answers is: what is the right response to the good news about Jesus? The right response is we surrender all of life to Jesus. How? First, by getting off the throne. Second, by obeying God no matter what. Third, by doing and saying what Jesus would do and say. Fourth, by handing our life over to him. Fifth, by staying loyal no matter what.
Jesus tells us that when we consider following him, we need to count the cost. It’s a big life choice. When someone is getting married, they need to know what that commitment means. Their life will be forever changed. They are connected to another person for the rest of their lives. They can no longer live the same as when they were single. They need to make another person a priority and listen to them and consider their desires and needs.
When we surrender all of life to Jesus, it’s like getting married and in fact, the bible tells us it’s a marriage. You are no longer living as a single person, setting your own agenda and only considering what you want to do. You are committed to Jesus from this day forward and life will never be the same.
But like with any marriage, we aren’t going to be perfect at it. Keeping that commitment is a daily task. When Katie and I first got married six years ago, she had a conversation with me in the first few months about how I was willing to break commitments I had made to her and not to others. I would break my commitment to spend the evening together but wouldn’t alter plans with other people. I was putting others before her. She desired that I make her a priority and she was right to want that. Now, throughout the years there have been many times when she has had to tell me that I am not making her a priority. I’ve had to apologize and repent and do things differently and I still am growing in that.
But just because I wasn’t perfect doesn’t mean we weren’t married. Similarly, when we commit to Jesus, we are going to stumble and fail to make him a priority. But we are committing ourselves to increasingly surrender more of life to him. There’s going to be many moments where Jesus will have to tell us we are putting others before him and we are going to need to apologize and repent. If he expected us to be perfect, he wouldn’t have had to die on the cross for us.
And the bible clearly tells us that we cannot do this alone. When you commit to Jesus, you are committing to his church. As a church, we are called to help one another surrender all of life to Jesus. We do that during these times at worship gatherings, but we need each other throughout the week as well. That’s why we have Gospel Communities and Gospel Fluency Groups to walk with each other and to continually invite one other to surrender more of life to Jesus. So if you aren’t part of one of those, I’d encourage you to consider joining one groups so you aren’t doing this alone because you were never meant to. God gives us a family of believers with whom we live the good news together.