“Who do you say I am?” Jesus asked them the question and the disciples knew and affirmed who He was. But it was not yet to be shouted from the rooftops.
“Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.’ Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.’” Luke 9:21-27
There are people who teach that following Jesus means a life of prosperity and health. And you know, with some, it sure might look like that. Some of those people live in fine houses and drive expensive cars. They jet across the world, preaching a message of prosperity.
But these verses today qualify that. We each have a cross. It is shaped differently for each of us, but it is a cross.
What if your cross is hearing that you have cancer and the doctors just put a time limit on your life? That sure doesn’t sound like health. But wait a minute. Maybe it is. Maybe it brings the only kind of health worth having. If you are given the gift of knowing that your days are numbered, it gives you the chance to focus on those things that have eternal value. A golf game would be important if it gives you the chance to share Jesus with your friends. Suddenly the volume or tune of the music at church matters very little. The only thing that you care about is the praise that comes from those words. Does the way the pastor preaches or whether he used a wrong verb tense suddenly seem like silly things to concentrate on? Does your giving become a priority not a task? Has your spiritual health taken a turn for the better as your physical health takes a turn for the worse? Which one is true health?
And let’s define prosperity. Is it in all of those things that gather dust? Is it nice clothes, fancy cars, expensive houses or lands? You know, everything that falls into the category of “stuff”.
What is prosperity? Isn’t it only what you do that makes a Kingdom difference? Isn’t it only those things that you can use to make a difference in people’s lives for eternity?
So, what is prosperity and health? We can figure that out best when we look at them from below a cross. Pick up yours and carry it. The only part of any of it that matters is the part that makes a difference for Jesus.