Summary: Following Peter's confession that Jesus is the Messiah, the Lord gives sobering instructions on the challenges of discipleship.
Three Questions For Disciples
1. We have just heard Peter make the greatest confession: Jesus is the Messiah. This has been the aim of Jesus all along. Now He entrusts to them the reality.
2. Matthew 16:21-26. This text asks some questions of us in regards to our discipleship. The disciples had to face the reality of what it meant to follow Jesus - and the path was not an easy one. Contemplating these questions will give us insight into growing in our commitment to Christ.
1. Are We More Concerned with Human Desires Than Heaven’s Desires? (16:23)
Strong words from Jesus to Peter. He is in the role of Satan the Tempter. He is offensive to Jesus. ‘Rebuke’ can be ‘Correct’ … Peter was willing to take charge of the ministry of Christ. He is thinking about Human concerns. Protecting earthly life of Jesus. Misunderstanding why Jesus was here. Even though Peter said Jesus was Messiah…he still wanted his own way Jesus reminds Peter to ‘get behind’ him…his place is in following Jesus, not leading him.
Are we concerned with Heaven’s Desire… In our Homes.. In our Habits... In our Workplace / Community... In our Church?.... Among our friends?
Peter wanted to tell Jesus how things were to be… Jesus stopped him in his tracks. If Jesus could see our motives and ways of living, would He think they were driven by Heaven’s desires? Are we more concerned with Heaven’s Desires or Human Desires?
I think this text presents a second question…
2. Are We Willing to Accept The Life Christ Offers? (MT 16:24-25)
If anyone wants… (24a) Do you want to follow Jesus? Jesus has made it clear that he wants us. He doesn’t force obedience.
Following Jesus Requires Self Denial (24b-25). As long as we are in charge, He cannot be. Barclay: “To deny oneself means in every moment of life to say no to self and yes to God. To deny oneself means once, finally and for all to dethrone self and to enthrone God….The life of constant self-denial is the life of constant assent to God.” Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. I don’t know anyone who can claim perfection in this … it is a lifelong challenge. Christ will work in us to help us grow in spiritual strength but we have to allow Him. Is Christ prevented from giving you new life because you don’t want His cross? Taking up the cross is not just experiencing troubles. It speaks to consequences in our lives as we follow Jesus. How do others treat us when we are dedicated disciples?
Mitchell Reddish, Feasting on the Word: “The condemned criminal who carried the horizontal bar of the cross to the site of crucifixion would have been subjected to taunts, humiliation, rejection, and shame before finally enduring an agonizing death. The disciple who "takes up the cross" is one who is willing to surrender pride, ego, status, comfort, and even life for the sake of the kingdom of God.
To have the life Jesus wants us to have we first have to cut the old life away. Lose it. What are we really losing? Lose your own failures. Lose your own hoplessness.
Lose your own weakness. Lose your arrogance. Find instead God’s grace, God’s promises, and God’s strength. We have so much to gain …True Life Comes Only from Jesus.
Are we more concerned about human desires or Heaven’s Desires? Are we willing to accept the life Christ offers?
Are we satisfied with what the world gives us? (MT 16:26)
Jesus asks a sobering question here. We’re used to hearing the word ‘soul’ here - but important to note that Jesus is talking about the here as well as the future. Jesus is calling us to a certain kind of life now. Deny Self or live for yourself, Take up the cross or ignore the cross, Follow Christ or follow the world. Forsake the world or gain the world
If we lose that life - would it be worth it? What is so great that the world offers? 1 John 2:15-17
The world cannot give us what Jesus does. Guidance to Heaven’s Desires. Grace so we do not have to be anxious. Mercy so we can move on. Holy Spirit to help us in prayer. Presence to comfort us. Avoidance of many dangerous traps of the enemy.
You don’t have to look around long to see the misery of the world. Even in the lives of Christians who attempt to live worldly lives while clinging to some form of religion. ‘Just enough religion to make them miserable!’