The Way of The Cross – Matthew 16:20-28

July 17, 2011

INTRODUCTION – If you were with us last week you may remember that we talked about the victorious church built and led by Jesus Christ Himself. We looked at His commendation or affirmation of Peter for his accurate and courageous confession of who Jesus Christ was and is. And we talked about the authority He has given to His servants to advance His kingdom to the ends of the earth.

My guess is when Jesus Christ said to His disciples, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” there was fire in His eyes – – and the disciples knew at that point – that Satan and his demons were no match for this amazing man, whom Peter had just pegged as the Messiah….. But my how fast things can change! Let’s pick up the story in vs. 20-23

I. Getting Clarity on the Christ

Why would Jesus not want the disciples to spread the news? Well if the 11 identified at all with Peter’s concerns; and usually it does seem that Peter blurts out what the others are thinking – – then they clearly weren’t clear on what the good news was.

Please note that this was probably an ongoing discussion “began to show” vs. 21 After hearing this kind of talk for some time,
Peter finally couldn’t contain himself any longer (always a bad state to open your mouth in) and rebuked Jesus. “Jesus You are on a roll. This is the last thing that would happen to someone with your pizzazz and momentum, and following. And besides you are the Christ, and you just said you would build your church…..”

I think it is also very likely that Peter had yet to realize just how hard hearted the elders and chief priests and scribes were. Interesting that it was the Romans who actually crucified him, but He didn’t mention them. Vs. 22

Jesus spoke to Peter, but commanded Satan to “Get behind Me!”
Clearly Jesus determined that Satan himself was working through Peter’s comments. So one moment the Father is revealing the mystery of the ages to Peter; and through him to the rest of the disciples; and the next moment the devil is actually using peter as his mouthpiece! vs. 23 One moment he is confessing with great clarity and boldness the person of Christ; and the next minute he is a door mat for the devil. vs. 23
Jesus said instead of a help and a support Peter, you are a stumbling block vs. 23

The reason he was a stumbling block is because he was setting his mind on his own interests and not God’s (literally the “things of God”, NIV), which would entail the purposes and plans and priorities of God. Vs. 23 So Peter was following Jesus, but at this point he was still more focused on his own agenda, than God’s agenda.

Well I’m sure Jesus’s rebuke of peter got everyone’s attention,…. so Jesus took advantage of the teachable moment and began to try to help them grasp the way of the cross. Let’s read vs. 24-27

Anyone who wishes to cozy up to Jesus – to be on good terms with Jesus – to have a relationship with Jesus – – must do 3 things: If you do not do these three things – you will not have relationship with Christ, and He will not acknowledge you as one of His followers when He returns..

1. Deny himself; Let me talk first about what it doesn’t mean – – to neglect or ignore your own needs such as the need for a job, being physically and spiritually fit, getting rest, spending time with your family, taking care of elderly parents, etc.

What it does mean – – God’s interests have to come before yours. God’s agenda has to come before yours. If you are truly denying yourself, Your main priority in life as seen in your daily lifestyle will be to know, please and serve the Lord – on His terms, not yours. He will not be your genie that you give lip service to ever so often on a Sunday morning, but rather He will be your master and Lord 24/7.

2. Take up his cross
What it is not: being married to your spouse;

What it is: Being willing to endure the hardships that come my way because of God’s call on my life; The good news is: everyone of you – if you are born again and have come into a relationship with the Living God –every one of you has an amazing destiny and calling that is unique to you. The not so good news is – to fulfill it – you will have to endure many tribulations. Things like: being willing to forgive – not holding on to grudges; being willing to be scorned by some who hate Christ and thus hate you; serving people who have wronged you; praying when you would rather be working or taking care of some project; etc.

3. Follow Me – – As we talked about last week, Jesus Christ is actively and aggressively building His church and expanding His kingdom. Crucial to that process is that we more and more learn to hear His voice and follow His lead. He is going somewhere. He has specific plans and directives for us each day. He is the living Lord, King, Master and Shepherd. He expects us to follow where He leads.

B. The Reasons for denying yourself and taking up your cross: (5 of them)
1. Whoever seeks to save his life or live for himself or focus on himself eventually loses that which he is so focused and obsessed with. his life or his soul vs. 25. The more I become self focused and self consumed, putting me first instead of God and others, the more selfish, conceited, proud, uncaring, and useless I become.

2. Whoever loses his life or soul or own way or control – will find it – vs. 25. When I give over the reigns of my life to Christ, I eventually gain all the things I long for. When I give up control, when I say no to self will, when I submit to Christ as Lord – – I finally can see and grasp my original purpose and destiny in God.

3. Gaining the whole world brings no profit at all if in the process we lose our life/soul vs. 26 No amount gained will help. No amount of earthly money or things will satisfy the deep longings of my heart, and the reckless pursuit of them will blind me from my need for God, and my need for transformation, and will sear my conscience. Making my life focus that of getting what the world has to give, will actually cause me to lose my very soul – my very capacity to know and experience and please God in this life.

4. Giving or serving to any degree will not profit one’s soul/life vs. 26. No amount of good works or sacrifice for humanity or giving of charity will deal with my sin problem nor restore me to right relationship with God. All of those things can just be a cover up of the self will and rebellion that I am walking in.

5. Jesus is going to return and judge every man – so we will have to give an account and be held responsible for the way we live our lives. Vs. 27 Not only will I be unsatisfied and unfulfilled and a pain to be around; but I will have to account for every decision, action, and deed committed in self willed, self consumed living.

II. Jesus’s promise – vs. 28
A. Several explanations/theories

1. When He returns “Son of Man coming…” Problem with this view – disciples will all be very dead by then.

2. Transfiguration (ch. 17). How “coming in His kingdom” ?? (cf. II Peter 1:16-18) “Some of you” true

3. Coming via His church as seen in book of Acts – all saw it but Judas = “some of you”. Kingdom established big time. And seems to be a reference back to promise made in 16:19

CONCLUSION – 2,000 plus years later, there is no one in human history that stands out and that continues to have life, family, community and even nation transforming effects and impact like Jesus Christ.
That is the case because He willfully endured for our sake’s and for our sins and for our sicknesses – all the suffering that came His way from the elders and chief priests and scribes.

Today as we come to His table – and hopefully commune with the risen living Christ – – you and I have a choice as to whether we want to live a fulfilled life and leave a legacy to those who will follow us – – by following in His steps of self denial and submission to His will and way; or whether we want to buy the lies of the enemy and live a self consumed ,self willed life – that will be a grave disappointment to our Lord and to everyone around us.

Had Jesus Christ not settled that issue in the garden when He said, “not as I will, but as You will” you and I would be lost in our sins with no hope of ever being at peace with God. Because He obeyed and submitted to the Father’s will; He has the joy today – sitting at the right hand of the Father – of seeing men, women, young people and children of every tribe, tongue, people and nation being set free from their sins and being brought into joyous relationship with the Father.

COMMUNION – Will you submit to Him today? If so, then He Himself invites you to come to His table.

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