AHC B Who Do You Say I Am? Appendix 1 - Hebrew Catholics

Association of

Hebrew Catholics

New Zealand Branch


Appendix 1

Denying Oneself — Taking Up One’s Cross.

Our Lord’s uncompromising demand that His followers must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him, requires just a little “unpacking”.

This understanding is absolutely crucial in presenting the teaching of Jesus. Again we quote Professor William Lane from his commentary (Erdmans 1994) as he sums up the core of this teaching. We reproduce Dr. Lane’s text in bullet points to help our meditation on this most important text.

●     Jesus stipulated that those who wish to follow him must
        be prepared to shift the centre of gravity in their lives from
        a concern for self to reckless abandon to the will of God.

●     The central thought in self-denial is a disowning of any claim
        that may be urged by the self, a sustained willingness to say
        ‘No’ to oneself in order to be able to say ‘Yes’ to God.

●     This involves a radical denunciation of all self-idolatry and
        of every attempt to establish one’s own life in accordance
        with the dictates of the self.

●     This demand is reinforced and intensified by the horrifying
        image of a death march. Bearing the cross was not a Jewish
        metaphor, and Jesus’ statement must have sounded repugnant
        to the crowd and the disciples alike.

●     The saying evokes the picture of a condemned man going out
        to die who is forced to carry on his back the crossbeam upon
        which he is to be nailed at the place of execution. By the time
        Mark prepared his Gospel this had become cruel reality, both
        for Jesus and the Church.

●     Jesus’ words were a sober caution that the commitment for
        which he asked permitted no turning back, and if necessary,
        a willingness to submit to the cross in pursuance of the will
        of God. His followers must be prepared to die, for they share
        in the same veiledness that permits his own humiliation.

●     The call to follow Jesus which recapitulates the action in which
        self-denial and cross-bearing are to be manifested, provides a
        vivid reminder that suffering with the Messiah is the condition
        of glorification with him. (Rom. 8: 17).    (Emphasis ours.)

Because it is so important to understand this difficult concept, we add the note from Bratcher and Nida Translator’s Handbook (U.B.S):

Deny himself” is without doubt one of the most difficult expressions in all of Mark to translate adequately. Unfortunately, too many people have taken this expression to mean ‘to deny oneself certain pleasures or objects,’ while actually the meaning is denial of one’s presumed prerogatives or personal interests. The different ways of expressing this concept in various languages, is highly illuminating.”

Bratcher and Nida then list several examples of what the phrase can mean, in trying to retain the original message in Jesus’ words.

These include:—

•     Have no regard to oneself.
•     Not bother oneself about oneself.
•     To not worship oneself.
•     To stop doing what one’s own heart wants.
•     To not belong to oneself any longer.
•     To not take constant thought for himself.
•     To undo one’s own way of thinking.
•     To leave himself at the side.
•     To say ‘I do not live for myself ‘.

We trust these quotations will help clarify our Lord’s teaching.

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