Luke 9:23 Study: Context, Facts and Life Lessons

Luke 9:23 says “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (NKJV). 

In this eBibleguide, Victor examines Luke 9:23 – the verse in context, important facts about the verse, life lessons and Bible cross references.

Luke 9:23 in Context

Luke 9:23 in Context

To have a better understanding of Luke 9:23, I will start by quoting relevant verses before and after the Bible verse. Before then, let’s look at the background story behind this verse.

The Background of the Story

Before Jesus made this statement, He had just fed 5,000 men with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. (Luke 9:13-17).

After this He asked His disciples a very critical question – “who do men say that I am”? The disciples gave various answers – “some say you are one of the prophet”, “some say John the Baptist,” and so on. (Luke 9:18-19).

Then Jesus asked them “but who do you say that I am“? (Luke 9:20). Understanding this question and Peter’s response is very critical to understanding our focus verse in this article.

Relevant Bible Verses Before Luke 9:23

Luke 9:16-23 (NLT)

16 Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people.

17 They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers!

18 One day Jesus left the crowds to pray alone. Only his disciples were with him, and he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

19 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other ancient prophets risen from the dead.”

20 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah sent from God!”

21 Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone who he was. 

22 “The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things,” he said. “He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”

Then, in our focus verse for this article, Jesus said – 

Luke 9:23 (NLT)
Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.

Relevant Bible Verses After Luke 9:23

24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.

25 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?

26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.

Important Facts About Luke 9:23

Important Facts About Luke 9:23

Based on the verses before Luke 9:23, the verse itself and verses after it, here are relevant facts about this verse.

  1. Jesus feeding of 5,000 men (women and children not counted) is one demonstration that He is worth following. He was not showing off – He just met a need by solving a hunger problem. After this miracle, He went on to ask who people thought He was. Then He went on to make the statement He made in Luke 9:23. I strongly believe that the sequence of events in the Bible matter.
Jesus asking who people thought He was appear not to have happened the same day as feeding of the 5,000. This is because Luke 9:18 started with “One day…” (NLT)
  1. To follow Jesus effectively, you must have a personal answer to this question “But who do you say I am?”. Who is Christ to you? It is okay to start from Peter’s answer – Christ is the Messiah sent by God. However, beyond that, you need to have your own answer to the question. If you haven’t, pause now and think about it – who is Jesus to you? 
  2. Following on from point 2, to effectively follow Jesus, you must also take the time to sink in the pains He went through to save you – He was rejected and killed. However, on the third day He rose to complete the purchase of your salvation (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). 
  3. Once you have an answer to the question in point 2 and you understand what Jesus suffered to purchase your freedom (point 3), it becomes easy to “give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
  4. In Luke 9:24, Jesus explains what it means to “give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me“. Before you started following Christ, you had personal habits and ideologies, you had your own ways of doing things. According to this verse, you have to give up any ideologies and ways of life that do not align with Jesus’s. This is what it means to “give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me“. Jesus described it as a “cross” because giving up yourself for Jesus is sometimes a very painful experience. Moreover, it has to happen daily – making it more challenging. 
  5. However, there is a benefit for giving up your life for Jesus “But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” (Luke 9:24b). There is also a risk for holding on to it “you will lose it”. 

Life Lessons from Luke 9:23

Life Lessons from Luke 9:23

To further help you understand Luke 9:23, here are some life lessons from this verse.

1. Jesus Solves Problems for His Followers 

Jesus’ primary purpose is not to give you food, shelter or water. His primary purpose was and still is to save your life (John 10:10). However, providing for your physical needs is part of the package. 

So, Jesus will turn water to wine for your sake (John 2:1-11). He will also multiply 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to feed 5,000 men! Think about it. If Jesus can give up His life for you, why will providing for your physical needs be a big deal! 

But how does this apply to you today? Here is how: Jesus may not necessarily increase the number of loaves of bread on your fridge. You are also not likely to suddenly see more food in your freezer or more money in your bank account. 

However, at the most basic level, if you are in a dire situation, He may send someone to buy you more bread or transfer some money into your bank account. But, this is at the basic level. 

At the advanced level (where Jesus will want you operating at), Jesus gives you the ability to become more productive, solve more problems, and be of greater benefit to the society. This He does via your accumulated life experiences. The more productive you become, the more money and resources that will flow towards your. 

So, the first life lesson from Luke 9:23 is that Jesus will solve life problems for you. However, you have to be willing to move from the basic level of life to the advanced level of increasing your capacity to solve problems (Matthew 25:14-30).

2. Jesus Still Performs Miracles 

The second life lesson we can learn from the focus verse is that Jesus still performs Miracles. A miracle is something the defies physical or scientific explanation – like turning water to wine or opening the eyes of a man burn blind. 

Miracles can be quick and sudden. However, miracles by be triggered by following God’s principles – they can be planned. Sudden miracles are at the basic level of a Christian’s existence. However, principle-based miracles are more sustainable and predictable – Proverbs 12:11, Proverbs 13:4.

A Christian can depend on sudden miracles but that will reduce the person’s God-given capacity and capabilities. Instead of waiting for God to send someone to give you food, how about leaning to generate a lot more food. How about your health? God heals alright. However, you can do something to lead a healthier life. For instance, you can watch what you eat and exercise more.

I will like to clarify that sometimes, we may get ill from circumstances beyond our control. I am not suggesting that every sickness is as a result of not eating right or not exercising.

By developing the skills to solve more problems and thereby generating more resources, you are tapping into God’s principle of sewing and reaping. Furthermore, by exercising daily and eating the right food, you are also tapping into God’s principle. In comparison, your life will be more predictable.

The second life lesson from Luke 9:23 is that Jesus still performs miracles but miracles are in 2 dimensions. God wants you to operate at the higher dimension – (Matthew 25:14-30).

3. Define Your Personal Relationship with Jesus 

To follow Jesus effectively, you have to define your personal relationship with Him. To help you with this, you have to answer the question “But who do you say I am?” (Luke 9:20).

Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? Who is Jesus to you? Is He “the savior” or “my savior”? to you? Here are some scriptures that will help you answer this question:

John 14:6 (NLT)
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

John 10:11 (NLT)
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.”

John 15:13 (NLT)
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

4. Giving Up Your Life for Jesus is Worth it

In Luke 9:23 Jesus says “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” In the Facts section of this eBibleguide, based on Luke 9:24, I explained what Jesus meant by “deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me“.

From my personal experience, giving up your life for Jesus is not as simple as it sounds. In reality, you will struggle in a lot of ways. Know that you are not alone. Giving up your ideologies and your ways of life is not particularly a walk in the park.

Think about it, you are a full grown adult, with opinions, ideologies and ways of life fully formed. Following Jesus is a gradual process of “unlearning” all you are used to. But you are not alone – “And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” (2 Corinthians 3:18b [NLT]). It is a process. Do not expect it to happen in one day. God loves you for you who are at any stage of your spiritual development.

However, despite the challenges of giving up our lives to follow Jesus, there are great benefits –

Luke 9:24b
But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.

Here are some of the ways you “save your life” by following Jesus:

  1. On this side of heaven, you will not self-destruct – without proper divine guidance, the average person may not have limits. Life becomes “whatever will be will be”. However, as a follower of Christ, you have clear guidelines you can follow. Most times, these guidelines keep you away from trouble.
  2. Life is very challenging – both Christians and non-Christians will face challenges. However, as a follower of Christ, you are less likely to feel overwhelmed by life. Jesus becomes your compass – faith in Him helps you carry on despite the odds.
  3. Finally, and most importantly, following Jesus guarantees you life in eternity with God – John 6:40, Romans 10:13.

Bible Cross References

  1. Matthew 10:38
  2. Mark 8:34
  3. Luke 14:27
  4. Colossians 3:5
  5. Romans 8:13
  6. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
  7. John 10:10
  8. John 2:1-11
  9. Proverbs 12:11
  10. Proverbs 13:4

I hope you found the study of Luke 9:23 helpful? Kindly share your views using the “Leave a Reply” form found towards the end of this page. You may also share your life experiences that will help other readers.

Finally, for more eBibleguide studies scriptures, visit our Scriptures Explained page.

Victor Ashiedu
Victor started following Christ on December 30th, 1999. He believes that believers have to spend time in God's word - the more you know the Word, the more you know your rights in Christ Jesus! He started eBibleguide.com, firstly to help him stay in God's Word. But, eBibleguide.com also hopes to contribute to the Christain community.

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