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Summary: PENTECOST 15(A) - Follow the Leader by knowing the will of God and by giving your life to God.

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FOLLOW THE LEADER

Matthew 16:21-26 - September 12, 2004 - Pentecost 15

MATTHEW 16:21-26

21From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"

23Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

24Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

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Dear Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:

Who remembers that childhood game of follow the leader? Maybe some do and maybe some don’t. This game reminds us that there was always one who was to be the leader. And as you played that game, there were always many more who wanted to be the leader. Not many people wanted to be followers. The leader was the one who was the most important. Today in our society we have many choices, choices of what to do, whom to follow. Our Lord reminds us today that he is still our leader. He is still our leader even though the world would look at Christianity and would look at Jesus as something and someone who are not very important. Jesus is often considered to be someone not very important at all, someone without much influence. Sometimes we as Christians might feel the same way. For what is the use of following a leader that the world does not respect, that unbelievers do not even care about. Well the Lord reminds us the importance of following the leader. Christ is our leader into eternity -- past the things of this life, right into the gates of heaven itself. And so Paul encourages us in Corinthians when he says: "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain"(1 CORINTHIANS 15:58).

Today we are reminded to FOLLOW THE LEADER. We follow the leader first of all as our text tells us, I. by knowing the will of God. And then we follow the leader secondly II. by giving our life to God.

II. KNOWING THE WILL OF GOD

Last week we looked at the verses right before this text, and we heard about Peter and his confession: Jesus was the Christ. And it was upon that simple confession that Jesus was the Christ--which Jesus said he would build his church. That church foundation would be established on the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior of mankind, and the Savior for everyone.

There was more. Jesus is going to teach his disciples even more, what was yet to come. So our text began by saying: From that time on, (from the time of Peter’s confession on,) Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem. It would be less than six months until Jesus would enter Jerusalem for the last time. Jesus would go to Jerusalem and be put to death. Jesus would suffer at the hands of the church leaders. So now Jesus had a short time to explain that to the disciples.. They already knew that he was the Christ, the Messiah. But what they didn’t know was his mission and purpose. So Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the Law. And that he must be killed. And we know what happens. The disciples hear those words and they kind of almost quit listening. And they don’t want Jesus to suffer. They don’t want Jesus to be killed. Therefore the disciples don’t want Jesus to go to Jerusalem.

But there was to more. Jesus says: …that he must be killed, and on the third day be raised to life. So we see that in these next six months it is going to take lots of explaining to get the disciples past that point of Jesus’ suffering and death. The disciples also needed to understand Jesus is also going to come back to life. We see the misunderstanding of this truth in the reaction of Peter. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him: “Never, Lord!” he said, “This shall never happen to you!” Peter loved Jesus. Peter recognized him as the promised Messiah. He didn’t want him to be killed. And he says to Jesus this will never happen to you. Peter says it in such a way to tell Jesus he would do everything he could do to stop this from happening to Jesus. And he would prevent any harm from coming to Jesus. Peter says never, never would such a thing happen to his Christ. But it would.

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