Matthew 16-24-28
Deny - Take - Follow

Deny – Take – Follow 

Matthew 16:24-28

The greatest life is the Christian life. The Christian life is meant to be dynamic. It’s meant to be exciting. It’s meant to have a radical effect on the way that you live and your outlook on life. It’s to be profoundly different from this world.  Why is it that a handful of ordinary people turned their world upside down in the New Testament? They were disciples of Jesus Christ. Spirit-filled. Living life as it was meant to be lived. As Jesus demonstrated. Let’s look at the call of discipleship Jesus gave in Matthew 16. 

I.    Deny Your Self:
a.    First, Jesus tells us that if we want to be His disciples, we must deny ourselves.  We can either live for ourselves, or we can deny ourselves. The great barrier to being a disciple of Christ is summed up in one word. Self. If you want to be His disciple, you must deny yourself. The Bible says that in the last days, men would be lovers of themselves, prideful, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, and so forth. We live in a time when there is this great obsession with self. 

b.    But Jesus said to deny yourself, and you will find life; lose your life, you will find it, and you will live the most joyful, effective, powerful life possible because you’ll exchange your life for God’s. You’ll exchange your plans for His. And you’ll say, “Not my will, but yours be done.” That will bring you to the level of life as it was meant to be lived. 

II.    Take Up Your Cross:
a.    What did He mean when He said, “Take up your cross?” The cross, the disciples would know, was a hated, despised symbol of a very cruel death. The cross is universal. It speaks of the dying of self, of putting God’s will before our own, to exchange our life for His, our plans for His plans. When we stop trying to seek life and instead seek God. The meaning of life, the purpose of life, is to know God (Job 22:21). The best life to live is the Christian life; to live it victoriously, we must take up our cross and follow Jesus.

a.    It’s when I lay it at the feet of Jesus and say, “I want your plan more than my own,” that I will find life as it was meant to be lived. When I lay aside my personal goals, desires, and ambitions, it is then that God will reveal His desires, plans, and goals He has for me. “Taking up your cross” simply means to do the will of God, to walk in obedience.

III.    Follow Jesus: 
a.    Two things about the Great Commission: First, it is a command. Second, it is for every follower of Jesus. If I am His disciple, I am commanded to go and make disciples of others. Otherwise, I’m neither His disciple nor His follower. What does it mean to make disciples? Jesus said, “Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Simply put, it means that I model it for them. I demonstrate it to them in the way that I live. And then, of course, I verbalize it. I communicate it.

b.    May God help us to see that His trade-in deal is the best there is. As I give Him my plans, goals, and future, He will exchange them for what He has for me. And as that scripture says, God speaking, “I know my thoughts, the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, I know the plans that I have for you.” God has a great future. And it’s good. His thoughts toward you are thoughts of peace. No matter the difficulty, we have the assurance that in following Him, He has gone before us and made a way.