“Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem is our journey, and if He set His face to go there and die, we must set our face to die with Him. One might be tempted to reason in just the opposite way: that since Jesus suffered so much and died in our place, therefore, we are free to go straight to the head of the class, as it were, and skip all the exams.
He suffered so we could have comfort. He died so we could live. He bore abuse so we could be esteemed. He gave up the treasures of heaven so we could lay up treasures on earth. He brought the kingdom and paid for our entrance, and now we live in it with all its earthly privileges. But all this is not biblical reasoning.
It goes against the plain teaching in this very context. Luke 9:23–24 reads: ‘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.’
When Jesus set His face to walk the Calvary road, He was not merely taking our place; He was setting our pattern. He is substitute and pacesetter. If we seek to secure our life through returning evil for evil or surrounding ourselves with luxury in the face of human need, we will lose our life. We can save our life only if we follow Christ on the Calvary road.”
–John Piper, “He Set His Face to Go to Jerusalem,” as quoted in Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross, Ed. Nancy Guthrie (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2009), 19.