In last week’s blog entry, we looked at how Jesus addressed His understanding of the power of God. Let’s review.

Jesus gave His disciples power over diseases and demons and sent them out. They experienced successful ministry and returned. It wasn’t long after that, that a large crowd gathered to Jesus, and they needed food. They were too far away to go buy some. With what I consider a thoughtful challenge to any misguided notion of spiritual power His disciples may have thought they possessed, Jesus said, “You feed them.” (Luke 9:10-17).1

Go ahead, you successful, powerful ministers. Let’s see what you can do.

They could do nothing, of course. All they had were five loaves of bread and two fish.

They had limited resources—limited physical resources as well as limited spiritual resources. They had no power to feed 5,000 people. The solution to the hunger problem they faced didn’t even occur to them.

The Lord calls people to do certain acts through which He will be glorified.

For example, Moses held up his staff, and God parted the sea. It wasn’t Moses that made the water stand up in heaps. It wasn’t a piece of wood, either.

Israel marched around Jericho, blew trumpets, and shouted, as God instructed them to do. The walls of the city fall down. It wasn’t the blowing of the trumpets, nor the shouting that demolished Jericho. God alone did that work.

Jesus’s disciples had five loaves of bread and two fish.

God, not men, fed 5,000 people.

After the masses were fed, Peter confessed that Jesus was “The Christ of God.” Jesus promptly told the disciples to keep that revelation a secret. He then notified them that He would be killed and raised from the dead (Luke 9:18-22). Here we see a continuation of Jesus’ life and example of remaining a nobody, a sacrificial servant, while He walked the earth—and that He expected His disciples to do the same.

Jesus did not need an earthbound promotional campaign in order to fulfill His successful ministry. He just needed…Him. Therefore, in contrast to the way we think, He suppressed the promotion of His ministry.

However, there was more to Jesus’ command that His disciples keep His identity a secret. He then notified them that He was going to be rejected by religious leaders, killed, and raised from the dead.

This is successful, powerful ministry?

Then, He said this:

“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 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 9:23–26).

Jesus—the one with the powerful ministry—said that if anyone wants to follow Him, they must give up their very lives.

Is it important that we use the spiritual power He bestows? Yes, of course. The Lord gives believers a measure of it when He wills. However, Jesus told His disciples—and us—that life with Him is not defined by that power—at all.

It is defined by a life of sacrifice.

That is the most powerful life of all—not a life defined by the ministries of healing, deliverance, or prophecy—a life defined by sacrifice for Him.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.