- Sermon Notes
To Be a Disciple
As we continue through Matthew 16, we are coming towards the last part of Christ’s ministry during His time on the earth. He is beginning now to prepare His disciples for His death and resurrection.
We read that Jesus told the disciples that it was necessary that He must suffer many things from the Jewish elders and chief priests, be killed and after three days rise again. In the gospel of Mark we read, “He was stating the matter plainly.”
Peter in particular didn’t approve – and was soundly rebuked for it himself with some of the strongest words Jesus could have used, "Get behind me, Satan." Jesus is not accusing Peter here of being Satan or being demon possessed, but rather Peter was saying the words that Satan would say, such words are like a stumbling block before Him.
Then Jesus said something else that was very important, "Peter, you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." Jesus then turned to His disciples and taught them what it meant to be His disciple. This threefold definition is very important for us to understand because Jesus includes us in it, "If anyone wishes to come after Me…"
These things apply to our lives right now. If anyone desires to come after Jesus Christ, then understand and apply these things in your life now. Many people look to Jesus for the hope of eternal life, but He is speaking about how to live your life before God here on the earth now. He came that we would have life and have it abundantly, not just eternally, but even here now on this earth.
The scripture says that a tree is known by its fruit, if you are to be known as a disciple of Jesus Christ, then may there also be the fruit of an authentic relationship to God through Jesus Christ.
I. We Must Deny Ourselves
- This statement, "We must deny ourselves," came right on the heels of the rebuke Jesus gave to Peter and His pointing out that Peter’s motives were not right.
A. Giving up our selfish desires
- The reason Jesus addresses this issue is because Peter rebuked Him for saying He must be killed and rise again.
- Jesus said that he had man’s interests ahead of God’s; selfishness, in other words.
- Peter had just said that Jesus was the Messiah, but they thought of the Messiah as the son of David, the great warrior king who conquered all his enemies. And that's what Peter wanted.
- But God's plan of the ages required that before Jesus would come as the great conquering King, He must first conquer death.
- Our problem is that selfishness is a basic part of man and must be conquered. We're born with it.
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?”…
B. In Christ, we are not our own
- Many people like to think of themselves as being their own man. “No one tells me what to do!”
- But no one “self-made” themselves into heaven. No one has yet been able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps all the way to heaven, though no doubt, many have tried and failed.
- The only hope of eternal life is to be bought with a price. Our sins caused us to be in debtor's prison, the Jesus paid it all. If we want to come after Jesus, we must know that we are not our own.
1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a, “you are not your own; for you have been bought with a price.”
- A point of clarification; to whom was the price paid? To Satan? No way. The sacrifice was made unto God to satisfy the requirements of righteousness.
- That means that He is the Lord of our lives, that He is the commander now. He is the boss, we might say.
Illus – That’s a difficult point to come to isn’t it? It's something our kids must learn so that when they're old they will not depart from it. And of course you keep working with them until you hear those words, "You’re the boss, Dad.”
C. What should we deny?
- There are desires, or drives, of the flesh; the more our lives are led by these desires, the more base we are.
Illus – An animal is led by its drives within – we should be much higher than that. But even animals can demonstrate mastery over these desires. For example, look at how they train Arabian horses.
- The more we deny these base desires and allow God to have control in our lives, the more righteous we live.
- Because that's the difference between “self-denial” and denial of self by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:12, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”
Galatians 5:22-23, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law.
- Deny self- trust, deny self-sufficiency.
- Deny self-confidence, instead have God confidence.
Illus – Remember the Sound of Music song, “I have confidence in confidence alone, and besides what you see I have confidence in me!”
Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Illus – When you feel grumpy, does that mean you should be grumpy? If you don’t feel like being nice, be nice anyway. Bless those around you to the glory of God.
The word “imitate” in the Greek is “mimic.”
II. We Must Take Up Our Cross
- One of the things we must understand is that Jesus has changed the meaning and significance of the cross.
- The Roman cross was designed to instill terror. Criminals would be executed in a very public way on the cross to instill fear.
- But now when we look at across it means life and hope. Christ has changed the meaning of the cross. Now it's the symbol we put on the grave.
Illus – There was a soldier who jumped into a foxhole and he found a silver cross that someone had left behind…
A. What it doesn’t mean
- Carrying a heavy burden or hardship.
- “I guess that’s a cross I’ll have to bear.”
Illus – meaning some unchosen burden like a difficult neighbor, or a mother-in-law, etc.
Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
B. Jesus took up His cross willingly
Illus – in the movie “the Passion of the Christ,” this is seen beautifully when Jesus crawls up onto the cross in His own power.
- That’s the point Jesus makes – we must choose to take up our cross.
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."
Romans 6:17, But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.
C. Take up your cross by losing your life
- “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake (and the gospel’s) will find it.”
- “What will a man be profited if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”
- What is the value of your soul? Many have pondered that question. There have even been many polls asking, "For how much would you sell your soul?"
Illus – I remember growing up my dad would listen to country music driving us out to pick berries. I remember hearing the song, “The devil went down to Georgia…”
Illus - Someone once even tried to sell their soul on eBay..
- Jesus said that if you were offered the whole world, it would not be worth it. What insight!
- By this Jesus is saying that there are two attitudes toward life:
- Jesus said the results are predictable… If you save your life you will lose it.
“You may find that you have everything you want, but you will not want anything you have.”
- Your life will slip through your fingers
- You will be dissatisfied, hollow and empty.
Illus – If you asked someone who had everything if they were happy, they might say yes, until you pressed him, “Will you go to your grave satisfied that your life was spent well?”
- If you lose your life you will save it.
- You will find contentment in the soul, your life can be rich and satisfying.
Luke 12:15, “for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”
III. We Must Follow Jesus
- Jesus is showing us the way to life and is asking if we want to follow Him into it.
A. Follow Him to the cross
- The way of the cross is the way of life.
- We died when Christ died.
- But we also lived when Christ lived.
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.”
Romans 6:3-4, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
B. Follow the way He lived
- He lived His life before the Father.
- We see in His character the heart of God.
- He taught a radical way that showed us life.
Matthew 5:44-45, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven;”
Jesus is offering life and desires that we would choose willingly to follow after Him by these simple words, “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.”
C.S. Lewis summarized it well in Mere Christianity.
God is going to invade this earth in force. But what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream, and something else -- something it never entered your head to conceive -- comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us, and so terrible to others, that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side we have really chosen, whether we realized it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back, to give us that chance. It will not last forever. We must take it or leave it.
Matthew 16:21-28 NASB