Just in the previous segment Peter confessed that Lord Jesus is the Son of the Living God.
In this portion of scripture we read about Peter became the stumbling block in the way of the Lord.
If we summarize all the three gospel accounts, we come across the word ‘must’ or ‘will’ used by the Lord to explain the certainty of the events to happen.
HE must go to Jerusalem – HE must suffer in the hands of Jews – will be handed over to Gentiles (Romans) – HE must be killed – will be raised on the 3rd Day.
Jesus ultimate mission was to go Jerusalem to die on the cross for the sins of the world.
HE will be raised from the dead to initiate the Kingdom of God with those who believe in HIM.
Through Peter, Satan tempts the Lord to keep HIM from HIS mission as God’s Messiah.
But Peter was under the spell of Satan to discourage the Lord from going to Jerusalem.
Even in our lives, Satan tempts us with reasonable things and human relationships to discourage us from doing the Lord’s service.
Satan is very good at confusing us with human emotions and things of the world.
Peter under the influence of Satan became an obstacle in the Lord’s progress to accomplish HIS mission.
Lord Jesus did not mince the words and rebuked Satan to get behind HIM.
Many times we see a person becomes a drag on someone who is serving the Lord.
A believer can become a stumbling block for a non-believer to come to know the saving grace of Lord Jesus.
A matured Christian can be a stumbling block in the life of a new Christian.
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
Lord is preparing the disciples for their future role in establishing HIS church on earth.
HE was teaching them the qualifications required to be HIS disciples after HIS resurrection and ascension to heaven.
Four qualifications are required even for 21st century Christians to follow the Lord Jesus.
1. ‘Whoever WANTS to be MY disciples?”
This statement relates to a believer – once a person believes in the Lord his/her discipleship begins.
But one must have a strong desire in heart to follow HIM.
A desire to become HIS disciple needs deeper commitment.
Wanting to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus is a very serious business and full of challenges.
All Christians are not followers of the Lord Jesus.
2. “Must DENY themselves”
The Message Bible says, “You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am”.
Denying one’s self is a difficult thing to do.
Lord Jesus is reminding us that there are conditions in salvation of the soul of a person.
1.It is a free gift, no one can earn it; 2. Only repenting sinner by faith receives forgiveness of sins.
3. The person must trust the Lord Jesus as Savior of his/her soul.
4. Must confess that Lord Jesus Christ is the only Savior and only God.
5. If he/she is converting from other faiths must erase all belief systems of that faith completely.
6. Must grow in the knowledge of the Bible and attends Bible based church.
The believer in the Lord Jesus cannot have the freedom do what he/she likes to do with his/her life.
We deny ourselves the control of our life because we trust HIM, we love HIM and we obey HIM.
3. Must “take up their cross”
Cross stands for a painful death – a symbol of suffering – a shameful death
Taking up the cross means to bear the burdens of Lord’s true discipleship.
Taking up the cross means to follow a sacrificial life style and identifying with the Lord.
4. “Follow ME”
This is a command of the Lord to follow HIM.
To walk in HIS footsteps – follow to obey HIM – follow to become like HIM.
Following Christ is a lifelong commitment of sacrifice, self-denial and bearing the marks of cross on our life.
HE was reminding the disciples that they are embarking on a difficult road full of challenges and sacrifices even unto death.
Most of HIS disciples died a death of martyrs.
In Christian church history we come across such stalwarts of faith who sacrificed everything in life, lost their families for the sake of spreading the Gospel message of salvation.
We also see many men and women standing up for their faith in the face of persecution and death.
So my friend, following the Lord Jesus Christ is a very serious business.
We should not attempt to follow HIM without the partnership and power of the Holy Spirit.