Do You Walk With The Lord Well?
Matthew 16:21-28 (Pastor Heo)
Jesus Predicts His Death
16:21-28pp — Mk 8:31-9:1; Lk 9:22-27
21 From 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. 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 23 Jesus 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.” 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his lifewill lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What 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? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
From this time on Jesus started speaking very clearly that he would be crucified in the future.
He spoke of this 3 times during the book of Matthew.
In chp 4, in chp 17 – Jesus’ announcement of the Kingdom of Heaven, and here, his emphasis on his death and resurrection.
His 12 disciples didn’t grasp/understand Jesus’ true purpose because they had preconceived ideas about the Messiah: politics, warrior, king. They thought he would be a kind of “superman” and overthrow the forces over the nation of Israel. They didn’t understand that he would win through the sacrifice of his own body.
But here he is telling them so that they wouldn’t be surprised when it really happened.
He also said that he wouldn’t suffer from ordinary people, but elders, chief priests, and teachers of the Law. The Sanhedrin was composed of these three kinds of people. Actually, they should have been the first to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, but they were the first to make a decision to kill him.
- Peter rebuked Jesus (his teacher).
- Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan!” (rebuked him back)
Peter rebuked him because he loved him – but was wrong. Jesus rebuked because he loved him, but was right. Peter’s response certainly reflected the feelings of all the disciples. “Surely not!” Jesus didn’t say, “Thanks for your pity” rather “Get behind me Satan!” (But Peter isn’t really Satan. If Peter WERE, he would say, “go away from here” – this shows that Peter’s place is behind, not leading Jesus).
Earlier, Jesus praised and honored Peter very highly for his statement “You are the Son of God.” Peter wanted to protect him from the suffering and death he would come to because he loved him so. However, IF Jesus had NOT suffered and died, PETER would have to suffer and die forever in his sins.
Like this, sometimes, good intending friends and family (those who love us and try to protect us from suffering) provide the greatest temptations against doing the things that God would have us do.
Peter was speaking the temptation of Satan without knowing it.
- At first, Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, not to suffer, not to be hungry, not to die. “If you are the Son of God, make bread! So your greatness! Don’t die!”
- Also, Satan tempted Jesus ON the cross through the voice of the crowd “IF you are the Son of God, COME DOWN and show us!” (Then he wouldn’t die, we wouldn’t be saved…)
Yes, even today, we can become the mouth of God or the mouth of Satan.
It is so easy for us to limit the impact of God on our lives because we are so focused on the goals of this life. It is so easy to focus on comfort and safety that we forget our divine call to sacrifice and service.
Peter’s perspective was wrong – God’s plan included suffering and death for the Messiah. Jesus needed to fulfill his mission exactly as planned.
THE DEFINITION OF DISCIPLESHIP (v. 24)
This verse is very familiar but not easy to practice.
“IF anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
IF anyone = not only to those disciples at that time, but ALL who would come after as well (like you and me). Recognizing and confessing faith in Jesus Christ as Messiah is only the BEGINNING of discipleship. Jesus invites ALL human beings to “follow” him – but to do so, we need three attitudes:
- Willingness to deny ourselves
- Willingness to take up our crosses
- Willingness to follow CONTINUALLY
Easy to do? Or difficult?
#1: To deny ourselves
This doesn’t mean to deny things. Usually we use “self-denial” in a restrictive sense. We think it means “give up something” – (give up chocolate, cola, bread…) This is a very small part of what Jesus means by self-denial. Jesus means “In EVERY part of life, say ‘NO’ to me and ‘YES’ to God.”
“Not I, but Christ.”
Once and forever dethrone yourself, and put Jesus on the throne. Give our whole beings to Christ and share in his shame and death. Surrender immediate material gratification and safety in order to gain the goals and rewards of God.
Self-centeredness becomes God-centeredness
This is immediate and practical, acknowledge Christ in EVERY area of life. Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ and no longer live…”
#2: Take up your cross
This doesn’t mean “carry a burden.”
This DOES mean “identify with Christ in his shame, suffering, crucifixion and resurrection” This is humility before Christ. Today, the cross is a symbol of love and sacrifice – but at that time, it was the worst form of capital punishment.
The Christian life is a life of service and sacrifice.
This same verse is found in Luke 9:23: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross DAILY, and follow me.”
This is not a MOMENT of great sacrifice, but a DAILY life of humility and service, and concerned with the needs of OTHERS more than the needs of self.
#3: To follow Christ
Not “walking behind” but “take the SAME road of sacrifice and service he took.” We must render to him perfect obedience.
The Christian life is a life of continual obedience to Christ – with our lives, money, time, tongues, bodies, etc.
To follow Christ = Moment-by-moment-by-moment
- 1 Peter 2:21 “To this you were called because Christ died for you, leaving an example you must follow”
- 1 John “Whoever claims to follow Christ must walk as HE did.”
Can you accept these verses truly?
- “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me finds it.”
Jesus Christ humbled himself from heaven to earth to exalt us from earth to heaven.
God exalted Jesus to the highest place and gave him the name that is above all names so that he could raise us from death to life.
Now is our turn. To attempt to save our lives = save you life only. If we do this, apart from God, we will lose our (eternal) lives. But if we lose our lives for the Kingdom of God, we save our (eternal) lives.
Jesus wants us to choose to follow him, rather than to live a life of SELF satisfaction. Jesus wants us to give up trying to control our own destiny and let him do it.
As CREATOR – Jesus KNOWS what real life is about.
Real discipleship implies real commitment – a whole life placed in Christ’s service.
“What can a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Only when we give our lives to Christ will we discover the true purpose of our living. What good would it be to gain ALL the money in this WHOLE world and lose your soul? Can you imagine all the buildings, cars, gold, money, jewels, electronics, etc? If you were the KING/OWNER of the world but lost your soul… what good is that?
Whatever we have in this world = temporary.
This “stuff” can never be exchanged for our souls. No amount of “stuff” can buy back a lost soul. If we are true Christians, we must make the pursuit of God more important than the pursuit of selfish pleasure in this world.
When we TRULY follow Christ, we will know what it means to have true life in this world (and the next as well).
“For the Son of Man is coming soon…”
He will reward us according to what we have done.
“Some standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming…”
- These words are (1) Warning (for Judgment) and (2) Promise
- Judgment = (1) condemnation for sins OR (2) evaluation for reward
Your life is going somewhere. Whether we want it or not, your life is going somewhere – the Judgment. In every life, there inevitably comes Judgment.
The man who selfishly hugs his life, money, satisfaction, and stuff is a total FAILURE in heaven’s eyes. The man who spends his whole life serving, living for the Kingdom of God, showing and witnessing for Christ is a SUCCESS in heaven’s eyes.
Jesus has all the authority to judge both heaven and earth. When he returns, there will be a future, final judgment. Everyone’s lives will be scanned, and evaluated, and reviewed, and rewarded according to what he has done.
Even Christians will face the Judgment.
Jesus will judge how we spent our time and money, talents, responsibilities, and so on in order to determine heavenly rewards.
When Jesus returns, there will be some when Jesus returns who see Jesus in body when he comes. Nobody can hinder the expansion of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Everything we have done for the Kingdom of God will remain forever, but the things of this world will fade away. “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well.”
May God bless us as true children of God, disciples of God, so that we may walk with Jesus our Lord – not someday, but everyday.