Chapel today (10/26/2012) at FHU - thanks for John McArthur for some help on this... Matthew16:24-26
Jesus doesn’t call us to give up our spot in the lunch line, our parking place, the best room ... *Not some little something that ultimately will be forgotten even if appreciated - He calls us to do something huge! *To give up our lives. Sometimes I fear we so undersale Christianity that - try to make it so easy - that we minimize it. And by not making it grand we make it small! As I travel I like to challenge churches by asking *“what are you attempting to do that you would not attempt to do if God were not a part of your life” - sometimes leaders say “we just can’t ‘SEE’ how we can do that.” that may mean you are right where God wants you - if it is sight it is not faith! What are you doing in your life that is a “faith thing”?
We make it so easy to be a part of our congregations in a push for numbers that we end up making it unattractive. Not worthy of our lives-our time-our money and our energy!
People need and want something to invest their lives in that are worthy of their time and attention - that are bigger than them...
The text assigned to me today really strikes a death blow to this mentality and to a current trend that I see in Christianity - *casual Christianity. *Much of what poses as Christianity today is bent on self‑centered consumption. Watch how people pick a church - do they have ___? (at GW, decided...)
There are many people who wish to identify themselves w/Christ for what they can get out of it. Christianity has somehow been redefined as "get." AND Jesus has been turned into a utilitarian *genie.
Some say Jesus is here to make you healthy, wealthy & happy. & may we have been guilty at times of propagating a Jesus who is offered to men as a panacea for everything. Don’t you want to be happy? Wouldn't you like to have abundant life? Wouldn't you like to know peace? Don’t you want all your problems solved? It’ll make you a better salesman-athlete.
& we advertise the *"get" without the "give," the "gain" without the "pain."
But to view coming to Christ as simply to get is to prostitute the God’s intention. To come to Jesus, yes, is to receive & keep on receiving forever & ever. But there's pain before the gain & there’s a cross before the crown & there is suffering before glory. That’s what our Jesus is teaching us in this passage.
& that's the heart of discipleship. We’re called to give up before we gain. It’s not like this is the first time Jesus taught this. Back in ch 10 He had told the same disciples the same lesson in diff words. 10:37, He said, "He that loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. He that does not take his cross & follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He that finds his life shall lose it & he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it."
This principle is not just in Mat. Mk as well. In ch 10 v 21, Jesus beholding the rich young ruler loved him & said to him, "1 thing you lack, go, sell whatever you have & give to the poor & you shalt have treasure in heaven. Come take up the cross & follow Me."
We find the same thing repeated at least 3 or 4 times, in Lk - 14:25, "great multitudes went to Him & He turned & said to them, If any man come to Me & hate not his father & mother & wife & children & brethren & sisters, yea & his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. & whoever does not bear his cross & come after Me cannot be My disciple."
& don’t leave Jn out in this crucial lesson. Jn 12, "Truely I say unto you, except a grain of wheat fall to the ground & die, it abides alone. But if it dies, it brings forth much fruit. He that loves his life shall lose it & he that hates his life in this world shall have life eternal."
So, what we have here in Mt 16 is a repeated principle. I've only suggested maybe about half the places where it appears-it’s in the epistles. Like Paul in the 14th chap of Acts v 22 says, "It is w/much tribulation that we enter the Kingdom."
But if Jesus said it over and over - why single this one out? Context! Let's look at the text. Why, if He's taught them before have they missed the lesson. I'll show you why.
They were raised in the glory concept of *Messiah. They expected the Messiah to arrive, overthrow the Romans, dethrone the Herods, & est the Kingdom w/all of its glory. & it was difficult for them to handle the fact that Jesus didn't seem interested in that. & that even when He was given the opportunity to be made a king (Jn 6), He rejected it.
So Vs 16, you see the where they were. Peter, giving the consensus says, *"You are the Christ the Messiah, the Son of the living God." We know You're the Messiah-the Son of God!”
In response to that, Jesus said in vs 18, *"I will build My church & the gates of Hades will not hold it in. If they take My life, I will rise. If they take your lives, you will rise. If they martyr those in the church, they will rise for death itself, to say nothing of anything in life, cannot contain the power of the church."
What a moment for them on the dusty road in Caesarea, Philippi, way away from all of the trouble. A great moment for them because they say You're the Messiah & He says "I'll build My church."
He goes a step further in vs 19 & says to them, "Not only that, I'm going to give you the keys to the Kingdom.” *Cool-we get keys. What a moment-They've waited a long time for this.
THEN Jesus says it in vs 21, *"By the way, I have to go to Jerusalem to be killed." & they never heard the rest of the statement. All they heard was "be killed." "& Peter took Him & began to rebuke Him, saying, Hey, you're not quiet up to speed w/the Messianic program.” “Be it far from me, Lord, this shall not be to Thee." This can't be. "& Jesus turned to him & He said, Get thee behind Me, Satan."
& then He makes this very imp statement at the end of vs 23. "You're an offense to Me, for you are thinking not the things that are of God but those that are of men." He says, "Peter, that offends Me because you're thinking the way men think." & how do men think? Men think about the gain without the pain, the crown without the cross, the glory without the suffering, the reward without the sacrifice. That's the way men think.
& so, then we come to v 24. It starts w/the word "then." "Then" means right then. He says, I've got to get this straight w/you, right now...the other accounts tell us there was also a crowd there as well.. He says, "Look, let's go back to that first lesson when I called you & told you to leave everything, your nets, your family, your livelihood, your life style, & come & follow Me & I would make you fishers of men. Let's go back to that original abandonment of everything to follow Me & let Me remind you that if any man will come after Me, he will deny himself, take up his cross & follow Me." There's no gain w/out pain.
Let’s take it apart quickly - *"if any man will come after Me?" In other words “if you want to be a Christian.
& the disciples, like us, needed a reaffirmation of those terms. You know, even Christians...boy, 1 thing goes wrong in your life, you get a little flack over here, a comment, someone doesn’t speak to you or an announcement is made you don’t like - & some people start to disintegrate, like: What? Is God abandoning me?
*“Let him deny himself” - The Lord says those who come into My Kingdom aren't those who think they're somebody, but those who know they're nobody & have no resource. The Psalmist said, "The Lord is near to those that are broken hearted and to those who are contrite, or crushed in their spirit." Out of resources. Jesus said: Blessed are the poor in spirit...
Only desperate people come to God. People who realize there’s no other hope for them - The publican & the Pharisee Lk 18 went into the temple.The Pharisee says, "I thank Thee that I am not as other men. I tithe & I fast & I do all this." He had good self‑image. & then in the corner is this guy w/his head down on the ground, he won't even look up & he's pounding on his chest & he's saying, "O God, be merciful to me a sinner." He won't even look up. "Jesus says, That man went home justified..."
Next. *"Take up his cross," He says. Dying to self is 1 thing, taking up the cross is another. What does that mean? What‘s the cross? What does it mean, "taking up your cross?" Very simple. I mean, it isn't even a scholarly problem here. It's very simple. It is the willingness to endure persecution, rejection, reproach, shame, suffering, even martyrdom for His sake. That's it.
The disciples aren't thinking about the cross of Christ. He hasn't died yet. They don't even know, are you ready for this?, that He's going to die on a cross. He hasn't said that yet. All He said in v 21 is He's going to be killed, that's all. What are they thinking on that dusty road in Caesarea, Philippi, up on the plateau where the cool breezes blew & they could overlook the Galilee area, what are they thinking in that day 2K yrs ago when He says "take up His cross?"
I'll tell you what they're thinking. A 100 men had been crucified in that area, not much earlier than this very event. About 120 years before. Antiochus Epiphanes had crucified many Jews during the reign of the Grks in the intertestamental period. & from a revolt following the death of Herod the Great. Crucifixion was pretty common in the Roman Empire. They’d seen crucifixions a lot. 1 historian estimates 30,000 crucifixions occurred around the time of Christ.
Now when He said, "Take up your cross," you know what they saw? They saw these poor sad condemned souls marching along the road w/the cross beam of their own instrument of death strapped to their backs. That's what they thought of. To them the cross meant you're walking to death, you're moving toward your martyrdom. & that's what the Lord is saying. You must perceive following Me as putting on the instrument of your own execution. Because the world is going to cut you off.
It means that when you come to Jesus, you're willing to suffer the indignities of a condemned criminal in the service of Christ. “look good on wood”??? (Bergain)
You see, those who come to Christ, come on His terms. You don't just sign on the dotted line, folks - stick your hand in the air - get wet a little. You come to the end of your self & so enamored & so desirous of the precious gift of salvation that He offers that you will sacrifice even your life...He’s reminding them of what they signed up for - and we need that too.
No, you're not called to Christ to get the goodies. You're called to Christ to abandon yourself in service to Him. This costs - & it is worthy of the cost - the investment. You know, if you want a good test to separate the the one who are not willing to suffer the reproach for Christ. They won't pay the price.
By the way, Lk adds a wonderful word here. Luke doesn't just say, "take up his cross," Luke says, "take up his cross *daily," every day...every day...every day. It's a way of life, folks, for us.
The final principle of discipleship is loyal obedience. *"& follow Me..." The text lit says, "Let him be following Me." It's a way of life. If we say we belong to Jesus, 1 John 2:6, we ought to walk as He walked, putting our feet in His footprints.
In other words, you have a choice. You can go for it now & lose it forever. Or you can give it up now & gain it forever. That's the point. By the way, the word "life" there is the same as "soul" & the same as "self", it's the same idea. The terms may be different, the idea is the same. It's talking about yourself, your life, your soul, that inward part of you, that real you. You spend your life going for the gold right here and you're going to lose everything forever...forever.
Verse 26 strengthens the paradox: "For what does a man profit," or lit, what use is it for a man, or of what aid is it, "if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" & here is the ultimate hyperbole. Let's say the guy gains the whole world. I mean, he gains every...he owns the globe and everything on it and he loses his soul. What's he got? He's got nothing. I mean, what's a dead man who owns everything? He's a dead man. & even worse, an eternally dead man.
But what if he denied self - what does he gain - I knew such a man - he died 2 years ago last night about midnight. He lived by one rule - DO RIGHT! And he gave his life. He preached for 50+ yrs - 43 of them at the same congregation. That church ave baptizing one person every 7 days for 43 years! He believed everyone needed the gospel and was as comfortable with the banker as the man fishing on the side of the bank. He said: Be humble - don't be partial.