Monday, October 12, 2009
St John's Crumlin
Got to speak in this lovely little church on Sunday night. I was given the text Matthew 16 v24"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."
I struggled all week with this text. What does it mean? I have heard talks on this about sacrifice, denying yourself, fasting and the like but it didn't sit well with me.
What was Jesus saying here? Was he being literal or was he trying to teach something?
My mind went to Luke 18 v18-30 when Jesus has an encounter with the Rich Young Ruler. When Jesus said "sell everything you have..then coem follow me." did he actually mean it literally or was he trying to teach something different?
In the passage before (Luke 18 v15-17) Jesus says, "Anyone who does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." So Jesus was saying you got to live a dependant lifestyle rather than an independant lifestyle.
I believe that if the RYR had gone away, sold everything and come back to Jesus, Jesus would have sent him away again, to do something else, until the RYR would give up and say 'I can't do it Jesus, I give up, I need you.'
So getting back to Matthew 16, was Jesus giving this formula in order to make people realise that they couldn't deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow him? Was Jesus trying to produce brokeness and dependancy? Or does Jesus actually want us to deny ourselves?
Then I read the whole chapter, looking for some context and notices how Peter was a main character in the chapter. In verse 17 Jesus blessed Peter. In verse 23 Jesus rebuked Peter. So was verse 24 about Peter? Was Jesus predicting what Peter would do? Was Jesus stating what he would do at the cross?
So with these questions I wanted to take the words of the verse and explore them. Denying yourself - well Jesu spredicted that Peter would deny him in John 13 v36-38. Peter denied Christ in John 18 v15-18, 25-27.
In John 21 we have Jesus asking Peter to "follow me". I believe Jesus wants us to follow him, even when we mess up and even on the good days.