Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
Jesus came to provide us with eternal and abundant life (John 10:10b). Jesus chose us to bear fruit that lasts forever (John 15:16), that is, to have an eternally productive and meaningful life. Jesus came to deliver us from the penalty Romans 5:10), power (Romans 6;6-7) and ultimately the presence of sin (Revelation 21:1-4) , that is, to live free. Jesus made the provision by dying on the cross, rising from the dead on the third day after His death, by ruling as our Lord (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 10:9) whose every command benefits all people (except the command, "Depart from me I never knew you.").
Our text today instructs us how to walk in the freedom Jesus came to provide for us. We enter the freedom Jesus provides by repenting of our sin and believing the gospel (Mark 1:15). We walk in the freedom Jesus provides by denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Him; by being willing to lose our life for His names' sake.
We deny ourselves by committing ourselves to take His purposes as our purposes. All we are denying are our purposes that lead to destruction and emptiness. His purposes lead to restoration and fulfillment. We learn what His purposes are by learning the Word of God. We need to be daily reading His word.
We take up our cross by being willing to die doing His will. We have His promise that if we are willing to die doing His will, then we will gain our life. We follow Jesus by imitating His life and obeying His commands by the power of the Holy Spirit, by faith in the Son of God.
Have you committed yourself to live by Jesus' purposes even to the point of death? Without that commitment, you will not experience the truly fulfilling life Jesus has provided for you. Remember, Jesus fulfills our acts of faith with His power. We attempt to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him, to lose our life for His names' sake and He fulfills our attempt with His power.
Matthew 16:21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you." 23 But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man."
Jesus began teaching His disciples the cost of salvation. To pay sin's penalty and free people from the power and eventually the presence of sin, Jesus needed to die on the cross and rise again on the third day. In Peter's way of thinking this "sin and death" solution was to harsh for His Lord Jesus Christ and he let Jesus know he didn't want that to happen. The disciples did not understand that salvation from sin necessitated the death of Jesus on the cross, and they sought to save Him from death by using their sword when He was being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:52). Our thinking is warped by sin. Proverbs 14:12 instructs us that there is a way that seems right to man, but it ends in death. Jesus needed to correct Peter and get him thinking in a right way so He said to Peter, "Get behind me Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man."
What would Jesus say to us today concerning our mindset? Are we setting our mind on the things of men? How do we know? Think what would have happened if Peter would have gotten his way of thinking fulfilled - no salvation from sin and thus eternal torment for all people. How can we keep from setting our mind on the things of man and thus robbing ourselves and other people of what is best for them? We need to take time to renew our thinking by learning the Word of God, the Bible. As we learn the Bible, we begin to think like Jesus. As we begin to think like Jesus we begin to live in ways that are best for ourselves and other people. As we begin to think like Jesus we become a saving influence upon all around us by teaching concerning people's sin problem, the need to repent and believe the gospel and to live in obedience to God's word by the power of the Holy Spirit. What have you set your mind on? Are you a hindrance or help to Jesus?
Matthew 16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
What does it mean to be given the keys to the kingdom of heaven? The keys to the kingdom of heaven is access to the sovereign rule and resources of the Creator God. Peter was to be among the first to receive the ability to unlock God's rule and resources by proclaiming to people the Word of God. The keys meant that when a believer shares the gospel with another person, it gives the person the ability to repent of his/her sin and receive the resources of God to live an abundant and eternal life. "Bind" in the language of the day meant to "forbid" and "loose" meant to "permit". When we share God's word, we forbid people to sin and to experience the privileges of abundant and eternal life if they do not repent of their sin and believe the gospel. When we share God's word we permit people who repent of their sin and believe the gospel to experience abundant and eternal. We are to unlock the resources of God's kingdom to as many as we can by sharing the gospel with words and displaying the resources of the kingdom in our life (Galatians 5:22-23). Are we using the keys of the kingdom, the word of God, to open the door to people for them to be able to live an abundant and eternal life?
Why did Jesus tell the disciples to tell no one that He was the Christ? It wasn't the right time until He was raised from the dead? I don't know yet, but I will one day. Jesus had a good reason.
Matthew 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it.
Earlier in the conversation Jesus was having with His disciples, Peter had answered Jesus' question correctly, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Peter had received this knowledge by revelation from God the Father. Peter became the leader of the disciples. Jesus told him that He would build His church on "this rock". In 1 Peter 2:4-5,8 Peter takes "this rock" to be the Christ the "living stone", "a stone of stumbling, a rock of offense." Peter was instrumental in the beginning of the Church, but the Church is built upon "this rock", Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 3:11).
The gates of Hades would be pushed open from the inside. All who died before Christ rose from the dead (with two exceptions), went to Hades, which was divided into two compartments that could not be accessed by the other. One compartment was Abraham's Bosom, where those who believed in the Lord went upon death and the other compartment was the place of torment, which those who didn't believe in the Lord went upon death of his/her body (see Luke 16:19-31). Ephesians 4:8 reveals that the Christ led all the righteous out of Hades into heaven when He rose from the dead and ascended back to heaven. All believers now go straight to heaven upon the death of their bodies (Philippians 1:21-23; 2 Corinthians 5:8). Hades now has one compartment, the place of torment inhabited by unbelievers awaiting the final judgment. Revelation 20:14 instructs us that Hades is cast into the Lake of Fire.
The believer in Christ will be used by Christ to build His Church. The gates of Hades no longer contain the believer in Christ. Every believer now departs to be with Christ when his/her body dies.
Matthew 16:13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 14 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
People didn't know who Jesus was as He walked on this earth and many people today do not have any idea of who Jesus is. What if I asked the question, "Who do people say Jesus is? I would get mostly the following answer. He was just a man who died. Some would say that they never heard of Him. Some cults would say that He is a god, but not the Creator God.
Who do we say He is? We say He is the Christ, the Savior and Creator of the world. What we know has been revealed to us by our heavenly Father. People told us of Jesus, but only the Lord revealed Him to us. We need to tell as many people as possible who Jesus is. Peoples' eternal and abundant life depend upon knowing Jesus as their Savior and Lord. We have the assignment to make Him known, but we need to realize that only the Lord can reveal Jesus' identity to people. How important is it to make Him known to the people around us? It is the most important thing we can do. Why?
The most misdiagnosed problem on earth today is sin. The truth applied to a person's life reveals sin. We need to help people be diagnosed by sharing the truth with them. The Bible is the truth. If the sin problem isn't solved, then people will not live abundantly now and will experience eternal torment in the future. The solution to the sin problem is Jesus, Who provided salvation from sin's penalty and power. If we don't help people know who Jesus is, we are letting people be destroyed by sin now and forever.
Let's diagnose as many people as we can of their sin problem and introduce as many as we can to Jesus, the only cure for sin.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Today is a review of why we can live the abundant life and eternal life Jesus came to provide for us (John 10:10). Galatians 2:20 is worth memorizing and meditating on daily.
1. "I have been crucified with Christ." If we can say that, then 1) We are free from the penalty of sin, eternal torment (Romans 5:10; Revelation 21:8); 2) We are free from the power of sin (Romans 6:6-7 sin has been done away with or better translation, "rendered powerless"); 3) We are free from the power of Satan (Hebrew 2:14-15 Satan has been destroyed or better translated, "rendered powerless")
2. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." Because we have Christ living in us, we have all the resources of God in us for us to use to be and do what He desires and commands. Obedience to Jesus is how we live abundantly even in hostile circumstances (2 Peter 1:3-4; Philippians 4:13).
3. "The life I live in the flesh (body) I live by faith in the Son of God." We access all the resources we have been given by faith in Jesus. We exercise faith by attempting to be and do what Jesus instructs and commands expecting Him to fulfill our attempt with His power (2 Thessalonians 1:11)
4. "Who loved me and gave Himself for me." We are loved with the greatest of all loves and He will never fail to act in love and be in love with us (John 10:11; Jeremiah 31:3)
Read each of the Scriptures referenced above and you will be enriched, renewed and on the way to continual transformation (Romans 12:2b).
Matthew 16:5 When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 Jesus said to them, "Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." 7 And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, "We brought no bread." 8 But Jesus, aware of this, said, "O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? 9 Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11 How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." 12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
The Pharisees and Sadducees taught a righteousness by works, by keeping the Law. Paul tried to gain righteousness by keeping the Law and testified, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24). The teaching of a righteousness by works has no power to restrain the indulgence of the flesh (sin nature). We are warned by Jesus to be in a high state of alert concerning any teaching that instructs we attain righteousness by what we do. Read Romans 7:7-24 to get the message of what the Law can and cannot do. The Pharisees taught an external righteousness that leaves us full of uncontainable sin that keeps seeping out into our lives (Matthew 23:26-28)
Jesus teaches us to gain an internal righteousness by repenting of our sin and believing the gospel. The gospel: Christ died on the cross for our sin, rose again from the dead on the third day, Jesus is Lord (read 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 10:9). When we believe the gospel, we are cleansed on the inside, we receive the Holy Spirit and have the power to live a new life, leaving the habits of sin behind (Read Ephesians 1:13-14, 19-20; 3:20; 2 Peter 1:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Read a Pharisee of Pharisees warning and testimony in Philippians 3:2-11; Romans 7:25-8:4.
When we walk by faith in Jesus, we can restrain the indulgence of the flesh. We can walk free from the power of sin, because we have the power of the Holy Spirit. Read and meditate on the Scriptures I have given in this short devotional. Let Jesus lead you to understand the righteousness that comes by faith, just as He helped the disciples to understand and grow in faith.
Matthew 16:1 And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered them, "When it is evening, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.' 3 And in the morning, 'It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah." So he left them and departed.
We need to remember who the Pharisees and Sadducees were to grasp this passage. They were in in the top three percent of the economic structure. They were the leaders and teachers of the Jewish people. They taught their traditions and voided the Word of God (Matthew 15:6). They did not practice what they taught (Matthew 23:1-3). The Pharisees and Sadducees were lovers of money, covetous and thus idolaters ( Luke 16:14; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5). Jesus called their generation evil and adulterous. Evil characterizes sin, which is not practicing the word of God. Adulterous is trusting in someone other than God for one's wellbeing. The Pharisees and Sadducees trusted in money and not God. They were spiritual adulterers.
The Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus and prove Him wrong because He was speaking against them. They asked for Jesus to give a sign from heaven to validate His authority to speak against them. Jesus revealed to them how spiritually blind they were by reminding them of how they could predict weather by looking at the sky's color in the evening and morning, but could not interpret their present sinful condition using the Law and Prophets, because they went by their traditions instead of the Word of God (Matthew 15:6; 23:1-3). Jesus said the only sign they would get was the sign of Jonah.
The sign of Jonah had two aspects. Jonah, was a prophet who preached the word of God and he symbolized the resurrection of Jesus from the dead by being three days and three nights in the belly of a great fish (Matthew 12:39-41). The word of God reveals our sin and teaches us what is right. We can predict what will happen in the weather of our life (and culture) by reading the word of God and comparing it with how we live (how people live in our culture). If we live contrary to the word, we can expect judgment or discipline from God and know we need to take shelter in Jesus by repenting, believing the gospel and obeying the Word of God by faith in the Son of Man, Jesus (Romans 6:23; Mark 1:15; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 10:9; Galatians 2:20). If we live in obedience to God's word by faith in Jesus, then we can expect blessing and fruitfulness (Luke 11:28; 8:15; Proverbs 14:34). The resurrection of Jesus from the dead on the third day proves His word is true and can be trusted (John 2:18-22).
How are you at interpreting the signs of our times? Compare our culture with the word of God? does blessing or judgment await us. Do the same with your life. I keep daily in the word of God, because I stray away from God in my thinking and behavior so easily. I need the daily corrections of God's word to keep me on the path of blessing and fruitfulness. I am able to contribute in positive ways to my culture because I can see with the lens of Scripture the way of blessing and the way of destruction.
Matthew 15:32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way." 33 And the disciples said to him, "Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?" 34 And Jesus said to them, "How many loaves do you have?" They said, "Seven, and a few small fish." 35 And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 38 Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 And after sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.
The peoples' hunger for the truth was greater than their hunger for food. Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4). The hunger for food is a known hunger and greedily satisfied. The hunger for the word of God is an unknown hunger that doesn't gain satisfaction until great need accompanied by a reluctant taste makes us aware of how hungry we are and how good the word of truth is. The people were weary and heavy laden (Matthew 11:28) and were attracted by the miracles of Jesus and when they had tasted the word of God, they were willing to forego the physical appetite for three days.
When I am sick and don't want to eat, I eat because I know I need to in order to recover my health and strength. I don't have an appetite and the food doesn't taste so good, but it is necessary I eat it to get healthy. It is the same with the word of God, the Bible. When I am sick with sin, I have no appetite for the truth and it doesn't taste good. But if I know it is the way to overcome sin sickness and live an abundant life, then I eat the word daily. What happens? I get healthy and strongly desire to feast on the word of God daily, just as when I recover from sickness my appetite returns and I feast on food and delight in it. Unlike food, I cannot eat to much of the word of God.
Notice that Jesus recognized the peoples' need for food, had compassion on them and instructed the disciples to feed the four thousand plus people. Like all of Jesus' instructions, the disciples didn't have the resources to do what Jesus commanded. But when they brought what they had to Jesus, He made it enough and all the people ate and were satisfied. We need to be like the disciples. When instructed by Jesus to do His will, we need to take what we have to Jesus and together with Him complete what He assigned us to do (John 15:5; Luke 1:37; Galatians 2:20)
Whether you have an appetite or not, begin to systematically read (eat) the word of God and obey it by faith in Jesus.
Matthew 15:29 Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. 30 And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, 31 so that the crowd marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.
The Apostle John tells us that Jesus received the Spirit without measure. He was gifted in every area to do miracles authenticating He was the coming King, the Savior of the World. Luke 7:18-23 relates to us the time that John the Baptist sought to find out if Jesus was truly the Savior of the world. Jesus showed the messengers miracles of healing diseases, delivering people from demons and making the blind to see to authenticate He was the Messiah, the Savior of the world, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Great crowds came to learn the truth from Jesus. This session with the crowds of people lasted three days (Matthew 15:32).
Today, the ministry of Jesus is carried forward by the Church, the Body of Christ. All who believe receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit distributes to each member of the Body spiritual gifts as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11). In Ephesians 4:7 Paul instructs us that grace gifts are given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Paul tells us that the Body builds itself up in love as each part uses its measure of grace for the others. The authenticating works of Jesus are now to be carried out by the Church, the light of the world. As each of us do the good works prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10) displaying the character of Christ (Galatians 5:22-23), we let the world know we have been sent by God with the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. As people marveled at what the Holy Spirit did through Jesus, it ought to marvel at what God is doing through the church. Think what a miracle it would be for God's people to be forsaking habits of sin and building each other up in love.
Lets pray for each of us to be like Christ and do Christ's work by the power of the Holy Spirit. Lets live our lives by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20)