Thesis:"Self denial" requires that we refuse to allow anything to keep us from identifying with Jesus in every situation.
Introduction:Before our Christmas break, we were looking into Jesus' declaration of the issues of being one of His disciples. We saw in our studies that Jesus set the stage for discipleship in terms of a three-fold pattern: self-denial, daily cross-bearing, and active pursuit. We had also looked into two of the three issues that would keep a person from embracing the three requirements. Those two were "seeking to save one's soul" and "seeking to gain the whole world".
This morning, in our return to the text, we are going to look into the final issue of the three that Jesus believed would keep people from being His disciples: being "ashamed of Him".
I. The Fundamental Issue of This Third Problem.
A. As revealed by the word translated "ashamed".
1. The word is consistently used in the New Testament in the way that Paul used it in reference to Timothy's aversion to conflict in 2 Timothy 1:8.
a. In this text, the issue is the question of whether Timothy was going to continue to proclaim the Gospel in view of the inevitable "sufferings" that would be the outcome.
1) The preceding verse challenges Timothy in a way that appears to identify a "spirit of timidity" in him that is illegitimate.
2) The following verses (especially 1:12-15) challenge Timothy in a way that appears to identify a lack of "faith" as the root of his timidity.
b. This text-in-context tells us two major things about the kind of "shame" Jesus was addressing in Luke 9.
1) Being "ashamed" results in a refusal to be involved.
2) Being "ashamed" arises from a serious lack of faith.
2. In Jesus' words in Luke 9, four things are clear.
a. He is dealing with "excuses" for turning His summons to discipleship down.
b. He has set up a pattern of three in terms of "requirements" and "excuses" so that we may correlate them and better understand them.
c. His "third" issue is focused upon the requirement of "self denial" as an active choice about which relationship to guard so that we may relate to Him most fundamentally.
d. A refusal to be His disciple at the "self denial" level is rooted in a serious lack of faith and results in a refusal to be actively involved.
B. As revealed by the declaration of reciprocity.
1. In the declaration, the issue is "glory".
a. Jesus addresses the issue in another set of "three": His glory, that of His Father, and that of the Holy Angels.
1. It is the inclusion of the Holy Angels that gives us the greatest hint as to what He has in mind.
a) The "glory" of the Holy Angels is their privilege as "ministering spirits" (Hebrews 1:7).
b) The "glory" of the "ministering spirits" is that they are "spirits" (active agents who are trusted by God with the execution of His plans) whose most fundamental characteristic of action is serving the needs of others.
2. When this "glory" is seen through the light of that which belongs to the "Holy Angels", the "glory of the Son" and the "glory of the Father" is understood: They are both fundamentally Servants Who seek to bring benefit to others.
b. This means that Jesus is addressing the issues of the "spirit" and its consuming interest in being recognized as worthy of trust in the service of others.
2. In the declaration, the warning is that there will be no "extension of this glory" to those who refused to be identified with Jesus and His words while they were in this world.
a. This is a serious warning: all of one's eternal experience is directly tied to whether God can trust one with any task that will affect others and He will make that determination, not upon what He has recently done to them (resurrection of the body and establishment in the Holy City), but upon what His Spirit and words had accomplished before they got this preferential treatment.
b. The seriousness of Jesus' warning is echoed by 1 John 2:28 in light of the eternal manifestation of the temporal reality.
1) The lack of divine willingness to extend glory to men will be apparent forever.
2) Though there will be no superior smugness at all in the eternal Kingdom, the facts will never be erased.
II. The Fundamental Theology of This Third Problem.
A. Everything Jesus said arose out of His Complete Theology, not man's partial grasp of it.
1. This means that His words are in direct harmony with the remainder of the Bible.
2. This means that we have to understand His teaching about the distinctions between what it means to "believe in Him" as Luke's "Qualified Redeemer" and what it means to "believe in His Replacement Comforter" as the Primary Agent of the Glory to Come in the lives of the redeemed (note again 2 Timothy 1:14).
B. The issue of this third problem is that men can easily be distracted by their circumstances into exalting their own paths over keeping Jesus in view and being identified with His words and works.