Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 16:24-27

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works." -Matthew 16:24-27

To whom is this command spoken?

Spoken to Jesus' disciples, but the command is for anyone who desires to come after Me.

What does this command require?

Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus.

What truths do we learn here?

First, we learn that if anyone desires to follow Jesus, there are some ground-rules. This is contrary to popular thinking. There are many today that desire to follow Jesus, but they want to do it on their own terms. They don't want to acknowledge that there are some basic principles to following Jesus. They will deny things like church attendance, church membership, church discipline, tithing, and anything else that would bring just a little too much commitment to their lives. Jesus teaches us here that there are some fundamental things to following Jesus.

Let's break this down into the three basic parts:
1. let him deny himself - This goes back to the dialogue that Jesus and Peter have just had. Peter rebuked Jesus because he didn't like that Jesus was going to have to die. Peter needed to get his own desires out of the way. Peter was mindful of the things of men. He needed to deny himself.
2. let him...take up his cross - The follower of Jesus must acknowledge that life is on the line. The cross is an instrument of torture. Its as if Jesus is telling Peter, "I'm going to be crucified, and you all can expect to be killed for following Me as well."
3. let him...follow Me - Again, this command comes up. Followers of Jesus must keep following Him. Every moment of every day we must follow Jesus.

The Christian life is a paradox. Whoever desires to save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for Christ's sake will find it. Following Christ doesn't always make a lot of sense to our human minds. It doesn't make sense to the world around us. But Jesus teaches that following Him is the only real way to save your life in the long run.

What are the consequences for disobeying this command?

If you miss this command, you miss it all.

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