Three Questions For Disciples Matthew 16:21-30
On the heels of Peter’s great confession of Jesus as Messiah, the disciples are reminded of the life to which Jesus is calling them. This text asks some questions of us in regards to our discipleship. 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?
Matthew 16:23 But He turned and told Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns, but man’s.”
These are strong words from Jesus to Peter. ‘Rebuke’ can be ‘Correct’ (“Then Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him: ‘God forbid, Lord! This won’t happen to you.’ CEB). Peter was willing to take charge of the ministry of Christ. He is thinking about Human concerns. 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 lives? If Jesus could see our motives and ways of living, would He think they were driven by Heaven’s desires?
2. Are We Willing to Accept The Life Christ Offers?
Matthew 16:24-25 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.
If anyone wants… (24a) Do you want to follow Jesus? Following Jesus Requires Self Denial. 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 “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. Is Christ prevented from giving you new life because you don’t want His cross?
“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.” ~Mitchell Reddish, Feasting on the Word
What are we really losing when we lose our lives and give them to Christ? We have so much to gain …True Life Comes Only from Jesus. Notice how Jesus speaks of giving life in the gospel of John:
John 3:36 The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.
John 6:35 “I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.
John 10:10 A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.
John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
3. Are we satisfied with what the world gives us?
Matthew 16:26 What will it benefit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life?
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. If we lose that life – would it be worth it? What is so great that the world offers?
1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.
The world cannot give us what Jesus does. You don’t have to look around long to see the misery of the world without Christ.
What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (NIV)
Many are still looking in the world for what only Jesus can provide.