BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 16
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven:…..
21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Things can change quickly, can’t they? One minute, Jesus is giving a great complement to Peter, and just a few verses later Jesus calls him Satan, and rebukes him. One minute, Peter is getting the keys to the kingdom, and the next he is offending Jesus.
We are all like that, sometimes aren’t we? One day we are on the mountain top, and the next day we are in the valley. One day we are shouting the victory, and the next day we are drowning in defeat. One day we are on fire for the Lord, and the next day the fire has burnt out. This does not surprise Jesus. He knows us, and He knows our faults, failures, and tendencies.
Because of this, Jesus gives the way to prevent some of these ups and downs:
* “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
Denying ourselves is a difficult task. Our flesh likes to have the preeminence. I guess just about everything in our Christian life boils down to this. Either we’re going to make it about the Lord, or we are going to make it about ourselves. The Christian life is not an easy one. It takes work, sacrifice, and great effort. If we’re going to faithfully serve the Lord, there is a cross that we must bear. We must take it up and carry it as we follow Christ. Our flesh does not want to do these things, but Jesus said that these are things we must do if we are going to “follow” Him. Let me simplify it this way:
* Lose yourself, Lift your cross, and Look to Jesus.