Join us at 6:00 Wednesdays in September for a study of the fascinating life of Ruth. (Except for September 17th – when you’re invited to share a meal with us!). Michael Whitworth’s excellent study book Bethlehem Road will be our guide. Classes for teens and children offered as well.
Three Questions For Disciples Matthew 16:21-30
On the heels of Peter’s great confession of Jesus as Messiah, the disciples are reminded of the life to which Jesus is calling them. This text asks some questions of us in regards to our discipleship. Contemplating these questions will give us insight into growing in our commitment to Christ.
1. Are We More Concerned with Human Desires Than Heaven’s Desires?
Matthew 16:23 But He turned and told Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns, but man’s.”
These are strong words from Jesus to Peter. ‘Rebuke’ can be ‘Correct’ (“Then Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him: ‘God forbid, Lord! This won’t happen to you.’ CEB). Peter was willing to take charge of the ministry of Christ. He is thinking about Human concerns. Jesus reminds Peter to ‘get behind’ him…his place is in following Jesus, not leading him. Are we concerned with Heaven’s Desire… In our lives? If Jesus could see our motives and ways of living, would He think they were driven by Heaven’s desires?
2. Are We Willing to Accept The Life Christ Offers?
Matthew 16:24-25 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.
If anyone wants… (24a) Do you want to follow Jesus? Following Jesus Requires Self Denial. Barclay: “To deny oneself means in every moment of life to say no to self and yes to God. To deny oneself means once, finally and for all to dethrone self and to enthrone God….The life of constant self-denial is the life of constant assent to God.” Luke 9:23 “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” I don’t know anyone who can claim perfection in this … it is a lifelong challenge. Is Christ prevented from giving you new life because you don’t want His cross?
“The condemned criminal who carried the horizontal bar of the cross to the site of crucifixion would have been subjected to taunts, humiliation, rejection, and shame before finally enduring an agonizing death. The disciple who “takes up the cross” is one who is willing to surrender pride, ego, status, comfort, and even life for the sake of the kingdom of God.” ~Mitchell Reddish, Feasting on the Word
What are we really losing when we lose our lives and give them to Christ? We have so much to gain …True Life Comes Only from Jesus. Notice how Jesus speaks of giving life in the gospel of John:
John 3:36 The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.
John 6:35 “I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.
John 10:10 A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.
John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
3. Are we satisfied with what the world gives us?
Matthew 16:26 What will it benefit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life?
We’re used to hearing the word ‘soul’ here – but important to note that Jesus is talking about the here as well as the future. Jesus is calling us to a certain kind of life now. If we lose that life – would it be worth it? What is so great that the world offers?
1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.
The world cannot give us what Jesus does. You don’t have to look around long to see the misery of the world without Christ.
What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (NIV)
Many are still looking in the world for what only Jesus can provide.
Good News from God: A Fresh Perspective on the Bible, Christianity, Church, and Life is a book published by the Outreach Church of Christ in Hamilton, Texas. I was recently pointed to this excellent book and have been very blessed by the information within and the spirit of the writing. It is written by one of the shepherds of the Outreach Church, Dennis Ensor and others from their church.
The first part of this book gives a brief overview of the Bible. This is followed by some Bible teaching on salvation, grace and mercy, what to do after baptism and some encouragement on finding a church.
A free copy of this book is available to our guests on Sundays at Forsythe. A .pdf copy of it is also available via a link to the right of this post. You can download it now and read it on your computer or send it to your Kindle and read it there.
“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds,and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Matthew 7:7-8
I believe this book is a treasure to find, an open door, and an answer to some really important questions.
- John Dobbs
Who is Jesus To You? Matthew 16:13-20
“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” Blaise Pascal
WHO IS JESUS? Is the most important question of the day.
Matthew 16:13-18 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
1. Jesus The Mega-Prophet
(Matthew 16:13-14 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”)
Jesus was compared by people of his day to other prophets.
John The Baptist. John’s role was to prepare the way for the Messiah. (John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!)
Elijah – exalted among all prophets. “Elijah had always been looked on as the summit and the prince of the prophetic line….To this day the Jews expect the return of Elijah before the coming of the Messiah and … leave a chair vacant for Elijah when they celebrate the Passover.” (Barclay)
Jeremiah – the weeping prophet highly regarded among the Jews.
These were all complimentary connections for Jesus. Jesus was a prophet. Jesus came to be more than a prophet.
Today there are many answers to this question from the world religions.
*Buddhists believe that Jesus was a wise and enlightened man who taught similar things to Buddha.
*Hindus believe that Jesus was an incarnation of God similar to Krishna, a wise man.
*Jehovah’s Witnesses believe he was God’s first creation, the archangel Michael, who became a man.
*Mormons believe that he was one of the spirit beings that all humans used to be, the spirit brother of Lucifer who became the devil. They believe that Jesus was begotten in the flesh by God the Father.
*Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet and miracle worker, but he was not crucified nor raised from the dead.
*Famous agnostic and author of Why I Am Not a Christian, Bertand Russel said, “Historically it is quite doubtful whether Christ ever existed at all, and if he did we know nothing about him.”
2. Jesus the Heaven-Revealed Messiah
(Matthew 16:15-17 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.)
Christ means Messiah – Anointed One, prophesied about through the ages.
This is the first time “Messiah” is used in Matthew … it is a crescendo in the teachings of Jesus.
Revelation (17) - This was revealed to Peter by the Father.
3. Jesus The Ultimate Kingdom Builder
(Matthew 16:18-20 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.)
Peter’s name in Greek (Petros) meant a large piece of rock – a rock like Gibraltar! The ‘rock’ is the confession of Peter. Some believe it is Peter himself, but I believe it is the revealed confession of Peter that Jesus is Messiah that will be the bedrock of the church.
It is popular today to claim not to like the church but to love Jesus. But Jesus loves the church!
“The church is not merely a means to achieve a greater goal, nor is it just a voluntary association of like-minded individuals. it is an article of faith. Jesus promises that he will build his church. He will protect the church he is building so that, while the force of sin and death will do its worst to destroy, the church nevertheless will prevail.” - Charles E. Hambrick-Stowe
The Strength of the Church (various translations…)
HCSB: ‘the forces of Hades will not overpower it’
NLT: the powers of hell will not conquer it
NCV: the power of death will not be able to defeat it
The Voice: The church will reign triumphant even at the gates of hell
KJV: The gates of hell will not prevail against it.
Do you think the disciples would remember this as they are persecuted later? Do we need to be reminded of this?
The Authority of the Church (19). When the Apostles spoke, they spoke the will of God in heaven. Jesus had taught them to pray, “Our Father in heaven … your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Ultimately our greatest authority in the church today are the writings of the apostles collected together as the New Testament.
1. Who is Jesus to You? This is an important question.
2. Who do you think Jesus wants to be to you?
3. Peter confessed his faith in Christ. Have you confessed your faith in Christ?
Romans 10:9-10 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.
When we move beyond words … and believe in our Heart in Jesus we will turn over every objection to obeying Him, beginning with repentance and baptism and continuing on to growing in discipleship.