Milton Friedman said “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” meaning that somewhere someone else is paying for your “free lunch” and theirs without even knowing it. Have you ever stopped in your tracks when shopping to really count the cost even when using coupons?
Many of us have heard of a familiar Bible passage “If anyone would come after me, must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” have you ever thought about this passage meaning? What does it really cost to follow Jesus? How is your commitment?
After arriving at Caesarea Jesus asked the disciples about what others say who is the Son of Man? The disciples gave their answer of John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets; it seems odd to have several answers but we will see why several answers do fit (v. 13-14, 1 King 18:36-38; Jeremiah 1:5; John 1:19-28). In the old testament it states that a prophet will rise up from among the people speaking in the name of the Lord; with this in mind, several folks (mention above) fit the profile to some degree, but not a complete match (Deuteronomy 18:14-22). Simon Peter gives his answer to Jesus after being asked of the same question “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Peter’s statement (confession) that Jesus is the divine and the promised Messiah; the word Messiah is defined (title given by the Jewish people) as a leader who was going to restore honor and glory after facing their oppressors (Daniel 9:25-26). What would your answer be if you were asked that very same question? Is he your Lord and Messiah (v.15-16)?
Jesus said “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.” (v.17-18) First note, that Peter was the first church leader in a church at Jerusalem. Second note, his confession; Peter’s confession of faith links with his role as church leader points out the true identity of Christ. Peter shares with us that Christians (believers) are the church (not the building) built on solid rock (firm foundation) with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone (1 Peter 2:4-6). Believers are joined into the church because of faith; faith in Jesus Christ as Savior (Ephesians 2:19-22); which is why Peter was given praise by Jesus. Would your confession of faith be the same as Peter? If someone were to ask you today how would you share your faith?
Jesus begins to explains (predicts) his death to His disciples; “suffer many things… must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (v.21). Peter exclaimed “Never Lord!… This shall never happen to you!” (v.22). Keep in mind that the disciples are trying to grasp (comprehend) Jesus’ main purpose and definition of Messiah. Also this is the first time (one of three) that Jesus predicts His own dead before His disciples.
Jesus mentioned “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”(v.24) What does Jesus really mean by this verse? First we need to look at the Biblical culture; the Roman had a method for execution of criminals which was crucifixion. The criminals would carry their own cross down the streets to the execution site; following Jesus meant a solid commitment that pushes us towards risking one’s own life. “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (v.25). What Jesus said in this verse boils down to this simple point; if we as believers want to avoid physical death, pain and discomfort, we risk losing eternal life. Currently our life is like an introduction, how we live here and now determines whether or not to eternal state (or eternal life). Nothing on earth that we collect can ever be used to purchase entrance into heaven. “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?” (v.26). What is your commitment level; are you following Jesus, possibility of losing your own life. Or are you saving your life from risk, possibility losing true eternal life?
Jesus is given the authority to judge you, me and the entire world “according to what they have done.” (v.27; Romans 14:9-11; Philippians 2:9-11). This judgement in verse 27 is the final judgement when Christ returns (Matthew 25:31-46) where everyone’s’ life will be reviewed and evaluated! Technically however judgement is currently happening (working) in our lives right now (as mentioned in previous paragraph), Jesus is looking how we handle things here on earth (for example using gifts, opportunities, time, resources, etc.). Are we committed to Jesus right now, shining the light of Christ to all like a lighthouse on a hill? Do we take up our cross and follow Jesus; or do we play it safe by walking away (doing our own thing)?
- What things tend to compete for your allegiance to Christ?
- What would it mean for you to “deny” yourself?
- What would help you take the next step in your spiritual life?
Deuteronomy 18:14-22; 1 King 18:36-38; Jeremiah 1:5; Daniel 9:25-26; John 1:19-28; Romans 14:9-11; Ephesians 2:19-22; Philippians 2:9-11; 1 Peter 2:4-6