After Peter confesses Jesus to be God’s anointed one (“Messiah”), Jesus begins talking with the disciples about his path leads to the cross: he must suffer, be rejected, be killed, and then raised.
Immediately after this, Jesus calls his disciples to the same path: “If any wish to come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
Jesus doesn’t go to the cross instead of us, excluding us. Jesus goes to the cross as our “head”, including us as his “body”, empowering us to make the same journey: joining him in the life that is truly life – life on the other side of death, resurrection life, the life of the Age to come.
Jesus reveals the shape of God’s life to be a self-giving, cross-shaped life of love. A different kind of life than our fearful, self-preserving life. It’s a life that only comes through death to the old life. We must follow Jesus into death in order to share in the life he shares with his Father through the Spirit.
Which is, of course, why Jesus goes on to say, “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:24). In essence, Jesus calls to each of us as disciples, then: “Come and die, so you can finally start living!”