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Coming After Jesus

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"COMING AFTER JESUS"

                                                   Matthew 16:21-27

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 life will 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.

INTRO:

This had to be one of the most trying, difficult and saddest days in Peter's life.

Only a little while before this Peter had declared Jesus

               to be "the Christ, the Son of the living God."

And Jesus said,

       "Peter, you didn't get that from your own thinking

               but you received that truth from above.

And now, here is this moment in Peter's life

       in which Peter goes from God inspired to Satan inspired

Go back with me for a moment, if you would

       to the beginning moment

               when Peter began to walk with Jesus.

       When Peter first came after Jesus:

               Matthew 4:18-19

                      Peter and Andrew are fishing and Jesus came by and said,

                             "Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men."

               Peter and Andrew laid down the things for fishing for fish

                      and picked up the things for fishing for men.

Peter had spent his life coming after Jesus.


But on this day it was as if Jesus and Peter

                             were standing at a fork in the road.

       Jesus begins to go down one direction of the fork

               and Peter thinks Jesus is going down the wrong road.

Peter stops Jesus and tells him he is traveling down the wrong road.

To Peter these two roads are well marked:

       One was marked with defeat

               and the other was marked with victory.

       Peter wanted Jesus to go down the road to "victory." 

              Victory: becoming the Christ - the Messiah

                             Taking charge - ruling over Jerusalem

                             Kicking the Roman's out.

                             Jesus the powerful ruler!

       But, to Peter,  Jesus was heading down the road of death,

              and to Peter, death meant defeat.

What Peter didn't understand was that

       Jesus never made his decisions based upon what would appear to be best for himself.

       Jesus always made his decisions upon what he understood to be the will of God

                (what was best for God).

                     

       What ever is best for God is always what is best for us,

                                                   although it may not “appear” so at the time.

For Jesus, one road was marked "The things of men"

                                    the other, "The things of God."

Jesus looks at Peter and he says,

       "Out of my sight Satan."

               For "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND? (v. 21-23)

       Lesson: It is possible to confuse the things of men with the things of God.

       Lesson: It is possible for any of us at certain points in our life to think that we are speaking the

                      things of God and discover later that we're not.

                      Peter had good intention; he thought he was helping the Christ make the right decision.

       Lesson: We must be careful not to let our emotions rule when discerning the things of God.

                      Peter never dreamed that Satan was controlling his action.

                             e.g. Karen Lusby called to ministry.


What do you have in mind?

               Are you seeking the things of God?

               How do we know the things of God?

Now Jesus stands at this fork in the road. 

               And he says,        "Here's what you must do if you are to come after me."

                     Self denial, cross bearing, follow Christ.

                             These are the things of God.

THREE STEPS TO COMING AFTER JESUS.

          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

       Get the picture.    Peter pulls Jesus aside and speaks to him quietly. v.22

                                    Jesus rebuffs Peter. v.23

                                    Jesus shouts to all of the disciples his requirements for coming after him. v.24

1. Deny Ourselves  - saying no to the flesh

              How do you know if you are living a life of self-denial? 

                      When every time you are making a decision,

                             the question that comes to your mind is not, “What is best for me?”

                             but rather, the only question you have is,      “What is best for God?”

       Some say that Christianity is a don't religion…...don't do this, don't to that. 

                      e.g. Ten Commandants

              There are plenty of don’ts to the Christian life

                     and these don'ts are aimed        at the power of the flesh.

       SOME SAY:

       I don't worry about the don'ts anymore because when I got saved, my want to got changed.

                      But your flesh will never want to do the things of God.

       We must learn to say NO!  Titus 2:11-2

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…

There is the negative of saying no, but there is the positive of taking up our cross.

2.    Take Up Our Cross 

       Cross bearing is not the idea of burden.  "We all have our cross to bear!"

       It is voluntary commitment to doing with our lives

               what Jesus did with his: offering it for the benefit of others.

       It is saying yes of Christ-like living.

Spurgeon said, “There are no crown-wearers in Heaven that were not cross-bearers here below.”


3.    Follow Christ 

       Where was Jesus going when he was carrying his cross?

       He was going to dye.

       So we too must go die.

       Wait!  That's negative.  I want to LIVE for Jesus.

Now we have the amazing paradox

               of the great exchange in the scriptures.

THE GREAT EXCHANGE

                   25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it,

                              but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 

      

       HERE IS A GREAT TRUTH:  You can't live for Jesus until you die with Jesus.

       There is no victorious life until we come to death.

                      e.g. Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives

                      in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and

                      gave himself for me.

       If you live your life for yourself, in the end you will find you have nothing.

       If you live your life unto the Lord, in the end, you will find the real meaning of life.

       1.    He who saves, loses

                      To take your life and do what you want for yourself without regard for God.

       2.    He who loses, finds

                      To come to the reality of life that life means nothing without Jesus.

               Giving over your life, that is, dying in Christ,

                                     is only negative when you don't understand the resurrection.

               The crucified life leads to resurrection living.

               SO HERE IS A GREAT TRUTH: You can't live for Jesus until you die with Jesus.

       Some will exchange a new boat, computer, car and miss meaningful life.

       Some will exchange a job, recreation, hobbies and miss meaningful life.

Sometimes it is hard to come to grips with God’s will. 

Look for example at the progression of the response of the disciples

                to come to terms with the will of God regarding Jesus prediction of the his death.


PROGRESSION OF THE RESPONSE OF THE DISCIPLES

  TO JESUS’ PREDICTION OF HIS DEATH

Matthew 16:21-27  (rebuke, disagreement, attempt to change Jesus’ thinking)

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 life will 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.

Matthew 17:22-23  (grief)

22 When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. 23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.

Matthew 21:17-19 (silence)

17 Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”

Matthew 26:30-35  (willing, in heart, to die with Jesus)

30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” 33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” 34 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” 35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

 


TAKING THE LONG LOOK

                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.

Two question:

       1. What good will it be for a man

                      if he gains the whole world,    (POWER, POSITION, THINGS, MONEY)

                             yet forfeits his soul?

       2. What can a man give in exchange for his soul?

                      What is your soul worth?

               When you come to that fork in the road, you decide how valuable you really are. 

                      If you think your greatest worth is just to be successful in this world,

                      then at the end of this life trade in your success and see what you have left.                         

                             You won't have enough to buy your soul.

Only the blood of Jesus can pay for your soul.

v.27  "For the Son of man will come...and he will reward each person according to what he has done."

               The long look is a day of judgment.

                      The long look says that someday at the end of  both of these roads

                             I'm going to meet Jesus.

              You can take one road and meet Jesus today

                      and walk down the whole road to the end with him.

              Or you can take the other road and forget about Jesus

                      but when you get to the end of that road, 

                             Jesus will be there to judge you according to what you have done.

Your works reflect the road you are traveling on.


Not only must each of us as individuals

        learn to deny ourselves, take up our cross, follow Jesus, and take the long look,

                      but so must the church as a collective body learn to do the same.

The church must ask, not what appears best for us, but what is best for God.

Sometimes the church must die to old ways.

I have a book in my office entitled:

       “Sacred Cows Make Good Hamburgers.” (explain meaning, India)

 There are some things in our church that we need to grind up and eat.

      

       Now understand, that there are certain that are non-negotiable  for us as believers.

       (e.g. the virgin birth, the sinless life of Christ, The atoning sacrifice of Christ on the  cross.

               The death, burial, resurrection, ascension and return of Christ.

               Salvation by grace through faith and not of works.)

What are some things that could become sacred cows?

       How many meetings for worship do we have each week and what time do we meet?

       What types of songs do we sing?

       How long should the preacher preach?

       What translation of scripture should we use?

       What color should the carpet be in our new worship center.

Or, how about this sacred cow?

       Children’s wing or pastor’s study.

You see, if God’s people don’t come together with the only question being, “What’s best for God?”

then we cannot follow Jesus.  For Jesus set the order.  Self denial, the cross-bearing, then follow Jesus.

e.g. Mosaic of Missions.

        A church which was originally an all white community was taken over by blacks moving into the area.  What did the church do? 

       Did it seek God as to how it needed to change its way of dong things so that it could minister to those around it?   NO! 

       The church sold its property and designated the money to missions in Africa.

As your church begins to position itself for the next phase of its life and ministry, pray that each member will unselfishly seek to know and do the will of God.

      

CONCLUSION:

This morning, some of you are standing at the same fork in the road.

       Do you have in mind the things of men

                                       or the things of God?

       Are you living in self-denial? 

               Are you asking “What’s best for me” or “what’s best for God?”

       Are you taking up your cross with a focus of

                       offering your life for the benefit of others ?

 

       Are you following Jesus with a view of dying to self and living in him?

       Are you taking the long look?


----

a The Greek word means either life or soul; also in verse 26.

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