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Matthew 16:21-28

Following Jesus

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Weekend Messages
  • March 10, 2019

When it comes to the Christian life, many Christians find themselves running into the wrong things. Why? Because they haven’t learned how to follow Jesus. We will study a passage that is filled with life-changing principles which will reveal how to follow Jesus.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Following Jesus

Matthew 16:21-28


ILLUS – Teaching our kids how to drive.

1.The principles for driving a car easily transfer to the Christian life.

2.When it comes to the Christian life, many Christians find themselves running into the wrong things. Why?

3.Because they haven’t learned how to follow Jesus.

4.Tonight, we will study a passage that is filled with life-changing principles which will reveal how to follow Jesus.

Matthew 16:21-28


1.After feeding the 4,000 and healing many Gentiles in the region called the Decapolis, Jesus traveled with His disciples about 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee to Caesarea Philippi.

2.It was there that Jesus asked His disciples the one question that ultimately everyone must answer, “But who do you say that I am?” (15)

3.Peter declared, “You the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (16)

4.After commending Peter for his answer and declaring that upon his confession Christ’s church would be built, Jesus “warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ”. (20)

5.Why did Jesus restrict the disciples from sharing the identity of Jesus?

I.   Seek First God’s Interests (21-23)

  • In verse 21, Matthew recorded a pivot in Jesus’ ministry.
  • Jesus was nearing the end of His earthly ministry, so He began to prepare His disciples for His death and resurrection.
  • Here we discover that Jesus was wholeheartedly committed to fulfilling God’s will in God’s time.

A. God’s will will be done

1.Notice that Jesus showed His disciples that He “must go” to Jerusalem.

2.The time had come for Jesus to fulfill the reason for His coming, to “suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.” (21)

a.Jesus mentioned the elders, chief priests, and the scribes because the three groups formed Israel’s supreme ruling council called the Sanhedrin.

b.When the Sanhedrin handed Jesus over to Pilate for crucifixion, it served as Israel’s final rejection of Jesus.

c.The Sanhedrin had great influence over Israel as was seen when Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate.

Matthew 27:20-23, But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death. But the governor said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Crucify Him!” And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying, “Crucify Him!”

3.Peter would later declare this all happened according to God’s predetermined plan which God pronounced through His prophets.

Acts 2:22-24, Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.

a.David prophesied the manner of Jesus’ death approximately 1,000 years earlier.

Psalm 22:16-18, For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

b.Isaiah prophesied Jesus’ resurrection over 700 years earlier.

Isaiah 53:10, But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days,

c.Jesus gave the warning in verse 20 because His death had to correspond with the death of Passover lamb in Jerusalem.

d.Jesus is our Passover Lamb, sacrificed for the sin of the world.

1 Corinthians 5:7, For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (NIV)

APPL – God has a plan and God has a time for His plan to be fulfilled. God’s will will be done. God’s will will prevail.

Proverbs 19:21, Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (NIV)

B.  Don’t settle for less than God’s perfect will

1.Peter didn’t approve of what Jesus said. He had just said that Jesus was the Messiah.

a.The Jews thought of Messiah, the Son of David, as the great warrior king who would conquer all their enemies.

b.And that’s exactly what Peter wanted, so he took it upon himself to set Jesus straight.

2.Peter rebuked Jesus and said, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” (22)

3.Perhaps, Peter did not hear all that Jesus declared for Jesus not only mentioned His rejection and death but also His resurrection!

ILLUS – People’s response to bad news

4.But Jesus would have nothing of it. He would not entertain Peter’s words for a moment. In fact, as soon as the words left Peter’s mouth, Jesus turned His back on Peter, and rebuked him with the strongest possible rebuke, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” (23)

a.Jesus wasn’t calling Peter Satan.

b.Nor did He mean that Peter was possessed by Satan.

c.Rather, Peter (“small stone”) was being used by Satan to put a “stumbling block” in front of Jesus in order to keep Him from fulfilling God’s will.

APPL – What is your response when you’re tempted to not do God’s will? We need to follow Jesus and be aggressive.

ILLUS – My response to a person who told me they wished I would take over the church where I was serving.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5, For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ

5.Peter did not have God’s interests but man’s. God’s plan was the cross before the crown. Man always wants the crown without a cross.

APPL – Spiritual truths are spiritually appraised. When we set our minds on man’s interests, we miss the value of what God is doing through His will.

1 Corinthians 2:14-15, But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things

Transition – After He rebuked Peter, Jesus called His disciples and gave them principles for being His disciple.

II.   Fix Your Eyes on Jesus (24-28)

  • What is a disciple? A disciple is one who follows in the footsteps of his or her master.
  • To be disciples of Jesus means that we follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
  • If we are to follow, we must fix our eyes on Jesus and not let anything get in the way!

A.  Deny self 

1.The truth is that we are all born selfish.

ILLUS – Two boys were hungry for breakfast and started fighting over who would get the first pancakes. Finally, mom stepped in and asked, “Now what would Jesus do if He were waiting for the pancakes?”

2.Our fleshly self is opposed to God’s will.

Galatians 5:17, For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

a.How does the flesh oppose the Spirit?

b.The flesh always seeks to glorify self. The Spirit seeks to glorify God.

c.The flesh always seeks to gratify self. The Spirit seeks to edify others.

3.So how do we deny self? First, we must realize who we are in Christ; that we are not our own because we belong to Him.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

4.Next, we must choose to have the mind of Christ.

Philippians 2:3-8, Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

5.The fruit of the Spirit is confirmation that you are walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh.

Galatians 5:22-23, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

APPL – When you feel grumpy, it does not mean that you should be grumpy. If you don’t feel like being nice, be nice anyway. Bless those around you to the glory of God!

B.   Take up your cross

1.So, what did Jesus mean when He said that we must take up our cross?

a.It does not mean that you’re forced put up with your mother-in-law or an irritating boss!

b.It means that we willingly lay down our lives and bear Christ’s reproach!

2.One of the things we must remember is that Jesus changed the meaning of the cross.

3.The Roman cross was designed to instill fear. Criminals would be executed in a very public manner on the cross to serve as a deterrent.

4.It was a horrendous form of capital punishment and was never mentioned in “polite” company by the Romans.

5.But now, when we look at the cross it is a symbol of life and hope.

6.Jesus took up His cross willingly.

John 10:17-18, For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.

7.We must choose to take up our cross too, even if it means rejection; bearing the reproach of Christ, rejoicing that we were counted worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ. Notice the reaction of the apostles after they were flogged for their confession of Jesus.

Acts 5:41, So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

APPL – When we take up our cross, we lay down our rights to our lives. Why would we do this? Here again, we need God’s perspective.

  • Jesus said, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (25-26)
  • What is the value of your soul? Jesus said that if you were offered the whole world, it would not be worth it! Why? Because the world is too cheap of an offer!
  • The worth of your soul is determined by what someone is willing to pay for it.
  • Jesus, the eternal, infinite Son of God, gave His life for your soul. Therefore, your soul has infinite value.
  • If you try to save your life now by indulging yourself in what the world offers, looking out for number one in every situation, you will ultimately lose your life.
  • But, if you lose your life now by taking up your cross, then you will save your life. It’s the only way to gain what will never be taken away!

Hebrews 13:12-14, Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.

C. Keep in step with Jesus

1.This is not a passive, “Jesus take the wheel” moment, but an intentional choice to keep in step with Jesus. 

ILLUS – Marching band

2.Jesus was showing us the way to life and is asking if we want to follow Him into it.

3.The way of the cross is the way of life.

4.Christ’s death is our death. His life is our life.

Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.


APPL – Jesus has set before us two ways of life.

  • Deny self or Live for self.
  • Take up cross or Reject the cross.
  • Follow Christ or Follow the world.
  • Lose your life for Christ’s sake or Save your life for your own sake.
  • Forsake the world or Gain the world.
  • Keep your soul or Lose your soul.
  • Share Christ’s reward and glory or Lose Christ’s reward and glory.

APPL – Let us fix our eyes on Jesus and follow Him.

Hebrews 12:1-2, Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Matthew 16:21-28     NASB

21 From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. 22 Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You." 23 But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?27 For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.
28 "Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."

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