The sayings that make up the text of today are addressed not merely to the twelve but to the crowds. The denial of self is an absolute requirement if one desires to follow him. The reason for this is that as long as the self remains, following will be half-hearted and incomplete. It will always come in the way of following. This denial thus, is not limited to situations of persecution alone but also to those situations in which personal likes and dislikes will get in the way of the proclamation of the Gospel. The sayings are difficult to put into practice but Jesus never said that following him in Mission would be easy. The final saying in this section in 9,1 speaks about some who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God has come with power. While this reiterates that the kingdom, which Jesus inaugurated (1,14-15) is indeed a fact and is indeed near, the referent for the saying has been interpreted in a variety of ways. Some see the referent as the event of the Transfiguration (9,2-8), that is the recognition by Peter, James and John that Jesus has received the Father’s approval and all power. Others see it as the Passion especially the event of the tearing of the veil of the temple and Jesus acknowledged as Son of God by the centurion (15,38-39). Still others see it as the Resurrection of Jesus.
Our ego often comes in the way of our discipleship. Too much importance to the self leaves one unable to follow, as one ought to.