Summary: Christian should understand the real essence of following Christ.
FOLLOWING THE CHRIST
God did not call us to be saved but to be followers of Christ. Examples:
• Simon Peter and Andrew – “follow me”
• James and John – “follow me”
• Matthew – “follow me”
• Rich man – “follow me”
What does it mean to follow Christ? I raise up this subject because people have a misconception of this calling:
• Leaving your job and become a pastor.
• Giving away your money to the poor.
• Going to other places as missionary.
• Attending church regularly.
• Be knowledgeable in the bible.
ILLUSTRATION Eugene Peterson said “Discipleship is anything that causes what is believed in the heart to have demonstrable consequences in our daily life.”
Becoming a follower of Christ has evident consequences in our daily life. Read Matthew 16:21-28. I want you to take note of the Christ’s response to Peter’s statement because it reveals the implications of following Christ.
In Matthew 16:13-20, Jesus acknowledged His identity of being the Christ, the Son of the living God. In our passage this morning, Jesus revealed His upcoming suffering, death, and resurrection and its implications to His followers. He already gave advance notice on this event in Matthew 9:15; 10:38; 12:40.
Now he would like to explain to them why this event should happen. He acknowledged that He is the Christ or Messiah in and for that reason He should meet His destiny as the Suffering Servant of God.
How did the disciples receive this revelation? Peter reacted strongly and rebuked Jesus. Peter’s statement indicated his lack of understanding regarding the nature of Jesus’ Messiahship. He was ignorant of what God revealed to Isaiah regarding the Christ. (See Isaiah 53) As a result, Jesus turned around and confronted Peter. Jesus uttered three strong statements.
“Get behind me, Satan!” (v. 23a) – Why did Jesus address Peter as Satan? Just like Satan, Peter offered an easy way to kingship and glory. (See Matthew 4:8-9) God’s way is by way of sacrifice and suffering. God would exalt Him to glory and honor by obedience to death on the cross.
(1) Following Christ means glory and honor by sacrifices and suffering. (See Philippians 2:12-13) Brethren, there is no short cut to salvation, glory, and honor. So if you find it difficult to live as followers of Christ, it is part of the deal. We must carry our cross; this means that we must accept the difficulties of being a Christian. Even in the normal way of life, glory and success are the result of sacrifice and hard work.
“You are a stumbling block to me;” – Jesus wanted Peter to understand that following Him means that he should not stand on or block His way to the cross. He thought that by defending Christ from his enemies would accomplish God’s plan. The reason Peter did this was revealed in the third statement.
“You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” – Peter’s thoughts on Jesus are exactly the opposite of what God had in mind. Peter thought that the way to building God’s kingdom is by physically overthrowing every power and nation that stands against the authority of the Christ.
(2) Following Christ means that we do not block the way of Christ and to Christ. God is busy working in the lives of men and women today and we should not be a stumbling block to Christ. How does the follower of Christ become a stumbling block?
• By our unwillingness to do what God wanted us to do. – Example: to proclaim the truth about Him, to comfort those who are suffering, to help the needy, to forgive the repentant sinner.
ILLUSTRATION A certain Mr. H. C. Mason tells of the man who in prayer meeting prayed earnestly that God would with His finger touch a certain man. Suddenly he stopped his prayer. A brother asked him, “Why did you change your prayer?” He replied, “Because God said to me, ‘You are my finger.’ So now I must go and touch the man for God.” —Gospel Herald
• By our ungodly and unrighteous character – Example: people are turn off to Christ because of how His followers behave – critical, judgmental, unrepentant behavior, compromising acts, and poor example. (See Luke 17:1-2)
• Following Christ means letting Christ lead the way and follow his instructions and examples. – Examples: Wheel chair ramp, stent in the artery.
(3) Following Christ means having in mind the things of God than of men. What is in the mind of God or the things of God? The most important thing to God now is people, you and me, the souls of men. He died on the cross not that we can have families, work, and be wealthy.