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, the chief priests and the 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 concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 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? 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 they have done.
28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Have you ever had a moment of great triumph only to come crashing down in a moment of great failure?
One moment you’re on top of the world; the next moment you’re down in the dumps.
This was the case for Peter in today’s passage from Matthew’s gospel.
Jesus had some harsh words for Peter and the other apostles because they didn’t understand what it meant for Him to be the Messiah and what it means to follow Him, as the Messiah.
Let’s pray together and ask God to speak to us as we study this passage.
(prayer) Lord as we consider your Word this morning may we be challenged anew to hear what you are revealing to us so we may be better able to serve you faithfully and in accordance with your will. Amen
The apostles understood that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. However, they didn’t fully comprehend what all of that meant.
As Jesus explained what it meant for Him to be Messiah, Peter challenges Jesus and is met with a strong reaction.
Jesus reaction offers words to help them understand what kind of Messiah He is and these words help us understand more about Jesus as our Messiah and Lord.
First, . . .
Remember, the common thought was that Jesus would come as a conquering king Messiah, not as a suffering servant Messiah.
He points His apostles to that reality when he says:
He will go to Jerusalem.
He will suffer many things from the religious leaders.
He will be killed.
He will rise from the dead on the third day.
This is very specific and the disciples realize what is going on. This is why Peter rebukes Jesus when he takes Jesus aside with the words
“Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to you!”
Peter said, “Never!” and we see in Jn 18:10 that Peter even takes measures to try and prevent Jesus from being arrested when he draws his sword and strikes the guard’s ear on the Mount of Olives.
What the apostles didn’t understand is that the will of God for His Son was, that He would suffer.
It was necessary for Jesus to die.
Jesus knew how essential it was for him to die and He didn’t want anyone to try and stop Him from fulfilling His Father’s will for Him, which is why He says to Peter.
“Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns but human concerns.”
This must have been crushing for Peter. Peter had just been encouraged by Jesus because of his great faith and understanding that Jesus was the Messiah.
And now, Jesus calls him Satan.
Peter must have thought, “Jesus, I love you, how can you call me Satan?”
But the heart of the problem was, Peter wanted to determine what was best for Peter. He still had not grasped what God’s will was for Jesus.
Jesus says as much when He says, “You’re not thinking about God’s concerns but human concerns.”
Jesus didn’t want anything, or anyone, no matter who it was, to distract Him from the purpose for which He had come to the earth: to give His life as a ransom for many.
Satan here, is trying to weasel his way into the scene to tempt Jesus through one of His beloved disciples, but Jesus is not going to have any of it.
I think we can all relate to the temptations Satan puts in our way? Sometimes, even through people you love and who love you. Like Jesus we need to be ever vigilant against Satan.
Jesus didn’t fall for it. He was faithful, // He was focused on His mission with pin point accuracy!
His target // was the Cross!
He knew he had to be arrested, // sentenced to death, // suffer death on the cross, // be buried, // rise again, // to ascend back into heaven with the Father.
If none of that happened, we would all still be lost in our sins. Jesus knew this, and He remained faithful to death, then unto LIFE.
Having seen the necessity of Jesus’ death we discover . . .
In second half of this reading Jesus takes the discussion about death even further. Not only is it necessary for Jesus to die, but it is necessary for us to die.
“If anyone wants to follow after me, let him 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. For what will it benefit someone if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will anyone give in exchange for his life?”
Jesus was willing to stay committed to His task because He wanted to be faithful. He knew the rewards were so much greater than the sacrifice.
Jesus is saying that for us, the reward is much greater than the sacrifice.
Jesus is talking about real sacrifice here. He says that if someone wants to follow Him, they must also be willing to take up their cross and follow Him.
The people of that day would have known what Jesus meant. Roman execution by dying on a cross was common. To carry your cross meant to walk to your execution. Jesus is saying that you must be willing to lay down your life to follow Him.
I don’t think we grasp the seriousness of this calling. We could be called to face death for our calling to follow Jesus, // yet some of us aren’t even willing to stop gossiping in order to follow Him. Some are not willing to sacrifice finances, // time, // or our own pride to follow Jesus.
Some of us aren’t willing to stop hating people of a different political party, or another race, or immigrants, family members, or even church members in order to follow Jesus, and some of us aren’t willing to give up our comfort or anxiety to walk across the street and love our neighbours in order to follow Jesus.
Jesus is talking about real sacrifice here.
Many of us have no idea what it really means to follow Jesus because we have no idea what it really means to sacrifice in order to follow Him.
It is possible we’ve never died to ourselves even though Jesus said, Matt 16:25“Whoever loses his life because of me will find it.”
It seems an anomaly that we have to lose our life in order to save it!
Yet we are called to sacrifice our lives for Jesus!
I don’t believe Jesus is referring to our physical death, // even though that could be the case. Losing our life in this context could be referring to losing those things in life which keep us separated from God.
Work, the media, money, relationships, and yes even church.
We are called to take up our cross and follow Him! To sacrifice everything in order to follow Jesus the Messiah!
In the last verse of the chapter Jesus says,
28 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
What does Jesus mean when he says ‘some standing here will not taste death until He comes in His kingdom?’
It is now 2020 and all of the original disciples are long dead.
What could Jesus mean?
Two possible suggestions
First, if you flip over to chapter 17 you can see that the next story in the Gospel of Matthew is the transfiguration of Jesus. At the transfiguration, Jesus will be supernaturally glorified in front of the disciples.
Is that what Jesus is referring to?
Another more likely suggestion, is that Jesus is referring to His resurrection and ascension back into heaven. At the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the disciples will begin to understand what kind of Messiah Jesus is, // they will begin to look forward to His return, and the age of the church will begin.
This is a total transformation of the kingdom of Jesus.
Either of these suggestions would fit what Jesus said and both highlight the deity, power, and glory of Jesus as the Messiah.
So, whereas verse 27 seems to refer to the second coming of Christ at the end of the earth as we know it, in verse 28 Jesus seems to indicate that His kingdom will continue to be revealed, including the disciples seeing something great in their lifetime.
Indeed, the disciples would see something great. They would not only see Jesus give His life on the cross, // which was necessary, but they would see Him conquer death by rising from the grave // and they would see Him rise to heaven to be with God the Father.
Our reading from Matthew this morning shows us more about what kind of Messiah Jesus would be and even more about what it means for us to be His disciples.
We are called to understand that Jesus was the Messiah and He would suffer for his faithfulness to His calling. We are also called to understand that as His followers we must be willing to suffer as well.
In effect we must be dead to sin and we must die to the world, // its temptation, and its rewards. We must live for Christ, // His blessings, and His rewards.
Challenge yourself to live out the words of the Bible day by day, for our salvation would not be possible if it were not for the arrest, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Remember He secured the forgiveness of sins for all of those who are prepared to trust Him.
Jesus died so that you could live. Be thankful, be confident, be changed by Jesus’ death day by day.
Our calling is to deny ourselves and live our lives for Jesus and others, rather than for ourselves.
So die to yourself and any remnant of your old life, find fulfilment with your new life in Jesus and live that new life to the full in Jesus! Let the light of Jesus within you shine for the glory of God!
You’ve risen from the dead, spiritually speaking, so live like someone who is finally alive!
Remember, you’ve died to yourself so that you can live by the power of Jesus, He can change you today and He can change you forever!
Jesus said, Mark 8:36
“What will it benefit someone if he gains the whole world yet loses his life?”