Read Luke 9:18-22
This is a key moment in Luke's gospel. Since chapter 1 Luke has been showing his readers how Jesus, the baby born in Bethlehem, was the Messiah, the saviour of the world.
What do you imagine prompted Jesus to ask his disciples about his identity?
What is the significance that this conversation came out of a time of prayer?
Why do you think the crowds thought Jesus was a prophet? 
Why do you think Jesus warned the disciples not to tell anyone he was the Messiah?
Why does Jesus immediately tell his disciples about his suffering, rejection, death and resurrection?
How would the disciples have received this news?
Read Luke 9:23-26
At first, this might seem like a sudden change of topic - from the identity of Jesus the Messiah to the call to self-denial. What do you think connects these two ideas?
Jesus had not yet gone to the cross - nor had he told his disciples this would be in his future. So what would 'take up your cross' have meant to them in this moment?
And how would these words have sounded to them when they remembered them later?
Jesus says that trying to save your life means you will lose it, and trying to gain the world means you lose your very self. What do you think he means by this?
Have you observed this at times in your own life, or in someone you know?
Jesus also says that denying your self, and losing your life for the sake of Jesus, will save it.
Do you have a story about a time in your life where you found true life in self-denial?
Why do you think Jesus demands such a radical faith from his disciples? Do you think he requires this sort of faith from you? Why/why not?
And do you think your faith meets this expectation? Why/why not?
Take 5 minutes to read this story from Open Doors:
How did you feel as you read this story? What did it bring up for you?
How is Ming living out the call of Jesus to "take up their cross daily and follow me"?
What has it cost to follow Jesus in China?
Would you be willing to pay a similar price to follow Jesus? Why/why not?
Spend some time praying for Ming and Hao Ran, and for all our brothers and sisters in China who are facing pressure and persecution for their faith in Jesus.
Pray as well for one another, that we would all grow in our faith and trust in Jesus, to follow him no matter what.
 See Malachi 4:5 for the reason the crowds thought Jesus might have been Elijah resurrected.
 Dave Miers from Open Doors is going to be preaching on this passage at NVBC on August 6. Take the time to explore the Open Doors website this week and read more about the persecuted church around the world, and how we can pray for and support them through Open Doors Australia.