What are you living for? People live for different things, comfort, riches, fame, etc. our purpose in life can go off like a magnetised compass. But we need to look at the word of God to know what we are living for.
”Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."“
Matthew 16:13-14 ESV
Who is Jesus? Some people think he’s a prophet, or one of many Gods, or Lucifer's brother or a created angel like Michael.
The answer to the question of who is Jesus is the most important question you’ll ever be asked. The right answer is a gateway to eternal life. The wrong answer is a road to eternal judgment.
”He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."“
Matthew 16:15-16 ESV
Peter gets the right answer. But Jesus is not. I’m ending Peter, but responds like this:
”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.“
Matthew 16:17 ESV
Unless God's spirit comes and opens our eyes, whatever the word says might not make much sense.
”And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.“
Matthew 16:18 ESV
This is the first time the church is mentioned in the Bible. And he is going to build it. Jesus himself is the cornerstone. But it’s also the truth that Jesus is the son of the living God.
The Great Commitment:
”Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."“
Matthew 16:24-28 ESV
Language changes over time and means different things at different times. The meanings of words like sick, wicked, friend, like, follow, etc.
What does it mean to follow Jesus?
These verses are mentioned in every one of the gospels.
Come after me - it is a choice, no one is forced into it. There is no such thing as forceable Conversion into Christianity. The decision has to be yours. God opens our hearts and eyes to enable us to make that decision.
Deny himself - Jesus did not say you have to end yourself things.
”Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, "You also were with Jesus the Galilean." But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you mean."“
Matthew 26:69-70 ESV
Denying means to disassociate with someone or something. It’s not about giving up things. It is to reject self-importance and find fulfilment in Jesus. What Jesus wants is preeminent. When you buy a car you have an RC book with all your details. When you sell the car, your details are changed and the RC book is handed over with the details of the new owner. That is what it is to give up your life to Jesus. The new owner is Jesus.
”Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.“
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV
”and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.“
2 Corinthians 5:15 ESV
Deny himself therefore means that we are not our own, but belong to Jesus. Following Jesus is not just insurance against hell, it is a complete change of ownership. Jesus is not your underwriter, he is your owner.
Another version says to deny yourself daily.
Take up his cross- in Jesus’ day, the cross was the most cruel form of punishing someone. Jesus suffered horribly for our sins. On the cross, Jesus took all our sins and paid the price for them. Why was it necessary for Jesus to live 33 years if the cross was the only point of his life? Because he lived a sinless life. On the cross, there was a great exchange where his right to living was credited to us as he bore the punishment for our sins.
If you saw a man carrying a cross in the time of Jesus, it means he is going to his death. That is the commitment that Jesus is calling us into.
We may have to endure suffering on this earth for our faith. Many have gone to their death because of their faith where they shared in the shame and reproach of Jesus. But one day he will return. The evil we see in the world is not final. It will come to an end when Jesus returns.
When you die, it doesn’t matter how much wealth you’ve accumulated, it matters where you will spend eternity. Jesus called himself God. Is he a liar, a lunatic or is he Lord? That is a decision we must make for ourselves.