The greatest asset you gain in your faith journey is how up close and personal God is with you. When you walk and talk with the Lord, He reveals Himself in the most intimate ways. You see this throughout the scriptures. Before Christ, God revealed Himself in various ways, like a pillar of fire or a cloud; see Exodus 13:20-22. When Christ entered the scene, thus giving us the New Testament, He became the new way of connecting with God.
In Christ, you now are one with God. He isn’t outside of you. He resides within you.
It is something to realize that the God of creation, the King of all kings, the Lord of all Lords, the Sovereign, Almighty God lives in you. He lives in me.
As Jesus was teaching His disciples, He was also preparing them for the future. If He didn’t prepare them, they would have never understood Christ’s death. They would have gone home and moped, but instead our intimate and loving God transformed their hearts with truth so when Christ’s death did come, they could recall the words of Christ and believe that He indeed resurrected from the dead. They would move forward in faith and tell everyone the Good News.
When you study Matthew 16:21-29, you see how Jesus prepared them so they would be ready to share the greatest news ever given to man. Because of Jesus’ preparing His followers and equipping them by the Holy Spirit indwelling their souls, they have passed the baton onto others to carry the Good News to the ends of the earth.
God’s mission has not changed. Believers today are to pass the baton onto others, making disciples wherever they go.
Before this passage of scripture, Jesus was speaking in parables to His disciples teaching them in story form. He was engaging them in faith wanting them to think differently so they would go deeper with Him. He wanted them to be so convinced of who God was that they would live fully committed to their Lord. Jesus had to strip away worldly thinking and their fleshy ways.
Now, Jesus spoke plainly about what was about to take place. “I am going to Jerusalem, and I will suffer greatly.”21 He gave His disciples the Gospel message in a clear and concise manner, “He will be killed, but on the third day, He would be raised from the dead.”21
If you were one of His disciples, what would you be thinking? Look at how Peter handled the news in verse 22.
Jesus reply to Peter is a stark warning for all believers. “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to Me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”23
What would you think if Jesus spoke these words to you?
Jesus continues being up and close and personal with those who chose to follow Him. He knew the enemy well and how unrelentless the enemy would be in trapping you with lies by blinding you; see 2 Corinthians 4:3-4.
Jesus came to not only save you from your sins, but He came to teach you how-to live-in response to your salvation. A believer doesn’t simply receive Christ and then walk how they’ve always walked before. A believer now walks by faith in Christ as he listens and obeys to the Holy Spirit. Christ’s life becomes your life from this moment on.
A believer must follow Christ. Look at verses 24-26 and see what Jesus is wanting you to know. There are three action every believer must make daily to remain abiding in Christ:
1. You must turn from your selfish ways. Sin causes you to love yourself. Jesus is wanting you to awaken from your slumber and rise up in Him. This world will keep you focused on yourself.
2. You must take up your cross. When you receive Christ, you align your life to the things that God loves. You learn who He is and what He loves by studying the Bible. You will have to change how you used to live. Jesus surrendered His will to His Father. You are to surrender your will too.
3. You must follow Jesus. Look at 1 Corinthians 11:1, John 8:12, John 10:27, and 1 Peter 1:14-16 to go deeper into what it means to follow Jesus. God gives you the Holy Spirit to lead you and keep you on the path that leads to heaven. In John 14:26, the Holy Spirit is your Helper who teaches you all things. In Romans 8:26, the Holy Spirit will intercede for you with God when you don’t know what to pray. In Isaiah 11:2, the Spirit is one of wisdom and understanding.
Jesus challenges believers. He is challenging you. “What do you benefit if you gain the whole world, but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”26
People cringe at these truths that Jesus presents to willing followers. While many come to the cross and believe Jesus as their Savior, walking up and close and personal with Christ as their Lord is another matter.
True believers on the narrow path to heaven have made Jesus their Savior and Lord.
A final preparation for the disciples was Jesus telling them after He leaves earth, He will be returning. Why does He need to return, according to verse 27? At some point, each of us will have to stand before God and account for how we lived life on earth. Was it for Christ or yourself?
Take the time to get up close and personal with Jesus. Whatever needs to get rearranged in your schedule or removed from your plate will be worth it. Jesus promises this in His Word. Read Revelation 21 and be encouraged by the wonderful hope that lies ahead where you and I will experience true eternal unity with Christ.