Take Up The Cross

Preached at Riverview Baptist May 14, 2017
798 Santa Fe Pike, Columbia, TN

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Matthew 16:21-28 (KJV) From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. [22] Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. [23] But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. 24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. 28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

Last Wednesday we studied how Jesus asked two questions of His Disciples. Those two questions were:

What does the WORLD say about Me?

What do YOU say about Me?

The world has many ideas about Who Jesus is, and the reason that Jesus ministered. The world sees Jesus in a very limited light. But the Disciple of Christ thinks of Jesus in a very specific way. We agree with the Apostle Peter that …

Jesus is The Christ, The Son of The Living God.

Until you understand that Jesus is THE Christ, THE Messiah sent by THE Only God to save this world; until you understand that Jesus ALONE is – as Jesus said in John 14:6 –

The Way, The Truth, and The Life. No man comes to the Father but by Him.”

There is but one Way to come to God, and that is through the Messiah, Jesus Christ. To come to Christ you must understand the Cross.

There is no Savior without a Cross.

There are no Saved without a Cross.

Christ came to this earth as Messiah to deny Himself and so save us.

We who are Christ’s are called to deny ourselves and take up the Cross.

Peter gave Jesus a great answer when he said You Jesus are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Following this wonderful answer we are told that …

Jesus Chose To Take Up The Cross

Matthew 16:21 (KJV) From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he MUST go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Being the Son of God is a wonderful thing. Jesus is wonderful, awe inspiring. He Who should be enthroned came from Heaven to earth. But He came the first time in His incarnation not to be enthroned, but on a mission to save sinners. Jesus Christ came to save sinners.

If Jesus is going to save sinners Jesus MUST go to Jerusalem!

Jerusalem is where the Temple is. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Mankind has fallen into sin. Darkness abounds. But at the right time:

Galatians 4:4-7 (ESV) But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

If we would come from a place of lostness to a place where we could be found and brought into the Family of God Christ MUST go to Jerusalem. The Bible says that:

1 Corinthians 5:7 (ESV) … Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed.

Jesus did for us what we could not do. He made the only way to save us.

Jesus had to go to Jerusalem. Jesus had to suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes. Religion said that you could work your way to God. Religion has always said that you can work your way to God. The earliest error of man was The Tower of Babel where the people said:

Genesis 11:4 (ESV) … “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”

Religion does not glorify God, but glorifies man. “Let us make a name for ourselves” is the same thing that every elder, and chief priest, and scribe said in Jesus’ day. They hated Jesus because He came to save, because He came to do the Father’s Will. Jesus must suffer.

Jesus must be killed. He had to deny Himself, to turn away from comfort and what He deserved to die on the Cross. If Christ had not taken up the Cross there would be no salvation. Jesus chose the nails. Jesus said:

John 10:14-18 (ESV) I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

Jesus chose the nails. He took up the Cross to save us. He did this willingly. No one forced Jesus to Calvary.

The Devil Despises The Cross

Peter gave a good account of himself up to this point. But when Jesus begins to explain that He must take up the Cross, we read:

Matthew 16:22 (KJV) Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

I am certain that Peter was SINCERE in what he said, but SINCERITY is no measurement of truth. There are many today who are SINCERE in their beliefs but they are SINCERELY wrong. I am certain that Peter spoke out of a sense of EMOTIONAL LOVE for Jesus. He loves Jesus, and doesn’t want Him to die. But again, EMOTIONAL LOVE is no measure of truth. Look at Jesus’ reply to Peter:

Matthew 16:23 (KJV) {Jesus} turned, and said unto Peter, GET THEE BEHIND ME, SATAN: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

How harsh those words sound! Get thee behind Me, SATAN! What you have said Peter is not godly but DEVILISH. The Devil hates the Cross. The Devil despises the Way of God unto salvation. The Devil disguises himself in love and care.

The Devil tells us “God is too good to send anyone to hell. God loves everyone. The Cross was a tragic mistake. Just love and you all will be in Heaven on day”.

There is no salvation without the Cross. Jesus MUST die if we are to live. Jesus MUST rise if we will one day rise with Him. There is no Savior without the Cross, and there are no saved without the Cross. Jesus told Peter:

You do not desire the things that be of God, but you desire the things that be of man.

To Be Saved You MUST Take Up The Cross

Matthew 16:24 (KJV) THEN said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Do you see that word “THEN” in verse 24? We must be careful to note every word in the Bible, even the small words. That word “THEN” is an ADVERB that connects the proceeding verses of text to what follows. “THEN” means “AT THAT TIME”. Jesus has just explained that a denial of the Cross is Satanic, Devilish, of this world and not of Heaven. Then AT THAT TIME – right in this context – Jesus said:

If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his Cross, and follow Me!

To Be Saved A Person First Of All Denies Ones’ Self

The world says “Love yourself”. In 1984 the British American band Foreigner produced a top selling song “I Want To Know What Love Is”. The man who wrote the song Mick Jones said:

I Want To Know What Love Is came up at three in the morning sometime in 1984. I don’t know where it came from. I consider it a gift that was sent through me. I think there was something bigger than me behind it. I’d say it was probably written entirely by a higher force.”

Jones never says what that higher force was. But I do think that God made us in His image and in His likeness not to expend all of our love on ourselves. Genuine love reaches outward and upward. The world is desperately seeking love. The world wants to know what love is. But love is not found in selfishness and self centeredness, but in reaching outside yourself to life others up. Jesus said:

Matthew 16:25 (KJV) For WHOSOEVER will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

When the world revolves around YOU and YOU ALONE then you will be be very lonely. No marriage survives when each partner believes themselves the center of the universe. No family grows when it’s all about me. I watched the other day as a young mother pushed her child – a precious baby girl – through the supermarket while she ignored that baby to talk on her phone. That is not love!

If you make life about YOU then you are doing the same thing that Adam did in the Garden of Eden. God put man in a perfect environment – gave him every part of his heart’s desire – and said:

Genesis 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof THOU SHALT SURELY DIE.

If Adam loved God he would cherish what God gave him, and despise what God forbade him. Yet when the serpent entered the Garden (a picture of Satan) he whispered:

Love yourself first! God is depriving YOU!

Genesis 3:4-5 You shall surely not die, for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as godlike the Trinity, knowing good and evil.

The Bible tells us that pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). Adam stopped loving God and loved himself most of all. This is what caused the world to lose Paradise.

Matthew 16:25 (KJV) For WHOSOEVER will save his life shall lose it: and WHOSOEVER will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

Jesus Christ died on the Cross, losing His life for OUR sake. He denied Himself to save us. If we would be saved we must DENY OURSELVES and follow Him. Salvation is a free gift from God, but in order to receive that free gift you must empty your hands.

We stop being our own boss, and DENY OURSELVES while clinging to Christ. Giving our lives to Him, He blesses us. Foreigner and the world said:

I Want To Know What Love Is”

Love is Christ dying in my place, and rising as my Promise.

Love is Jesus willingly reaching outward as the nails were pounded into His hands and feet.

Love is Jesus saying “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

Love is the Blood that dripped from His side

the Blood that ran down that post

the Blood that covered our sins.

Love is the offer of salvation to whosoever will.

As the Scripture declares:

Romans 10:8-11 (ESV) … “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

To believe in Him means to entrust to Him your everything.

Deny Yourself, Take Up The Cross, Follow Jesus … Or Lose Your Soul

When Adam loved himself rather than loving God he lost Paradise. We lose the hope of Paradise and even our own souls when we do not deny ourselves and take up the Cross. Jesus said:

Matthew 16:26 (KJV) For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

The most valuable thing you own is not your homes or your businesses, nor even your bodies. The most valuable thing you own is YOUR SOUL. It is your SOUL that you will have when this old body dies. Your SOUL is the YOU inside of that cage of flesh. And if you gain the whole world, but lose your soul, what value is that?

Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV) “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

The gate that leads to blessing is to deny yourself, to take up the Cross, and to follow Jesus. The world will not choose that way. The world chooses self love, what pleases self, and in so doing loses its soul. They take the WIDE road of selfishness. Jesus is Who we follow. Jesus is Who we adore!

Hebrews 12:2-3 (ESV) …. looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Jesus saw JOY in the Cross because He saw YOU REDEEMED in the Cross. When you believe in Him, receiving Him as Lord and Savior, you enter into the Kingdom of God. And God enters into YOUR life. You in Christ, and Christ in you.

Jesus endured the shame and public embarrassment of the Cross because He looked toward the goal, the saving of many souls. The Christ follower endures the public shame – and there is shame because the world hates the Cross. We endure and carry our Cross so that others might be saved. God called you for a purpose, and your purpose is to do what He has given you to do. This is your Cross. Bear it proudly!

Pastor John MacArthur said: “It is only when you get past that shame, that fear, that embarrassment, whatever it is, that you become useful to God.”

The world does not understand the Cross, but we who are Christ’s bear the Cross. The world calls us fools – but God calls us Kings.

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God

If you are carrying your Cross then you are occupied with carrying it for the Lord.

What If I Will Not Receive The Cross?

Matthew 16:27-28 (KJV) For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. 28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

Jesus told us that He is coming again, and that He will reward every man according to His works. A judgment day is coming. Jesus ended His teaching on the Cross with a statement:

There be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom

When the read the commentaries you’ll find a variety of interpretations on this verse, many of which are wrong. I want to focus not on a commentary, but the plain sense of the text. Jesus exhorted His listeners to deny themselves, take up their Cross, and follow Him. Those who do not follow Him will one day “taste of death” when they see Christ coming in His Kingdom. Jesus has promised:

John 8:51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, HE SHALL NEVER SEE DEATH.

and to Martha Jesus said:

John 11:25-26 …. I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: [26] And whosoever LIVETH AND BELIEVETH IN ME SHALL NEVER DIE. Believest thou this?

Jesus Christ “by the grace of God tasted death” (Hebrews 2:9) so that we who believe in Him would never have to taste death. So what Jesus is saying in our final text does not apply to His Children by faith – but those who reject Him as Lord and Savior now. There is coming a day when Jesus will return to establish His Kingdom on this earth. Those who reject Him now will one day stand before Him at a Great White Throne, a terrible place where all who reject the love of God will go. The Apostle John wrote …

Revelation 20:11-15 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. [12] And I SAW THE DEAD, SMALL AND GREAT, STAND BEFORE GOD; AND THE BOOKS WERE OPENED: AND ANOTHER BOOK WAS OPENED, WHICH IS THE BOOK OF LIFE: AND THE DEAD WERE JUDGED OUT OF THOSE THINGS WHICH WERE WRITTEN IN THE BOOKS, ACCORDING TO THEIR WORKS. [13] And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. [14] And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. [15] And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Those who reject Christ and His Cross of love will one day find themselves reaping what they have sown. This is not what God wants for you. Deny yourself. Take up the Cross. Follow Him. Receive Christ as your Lord and Savior, and He will receive you in love for all eternity. What will it profit you to gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Receive Christ. Receive His salvation.

May God touch your hearts with His Word.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. I am looking for the Church. Most of what I see today is not the Church, but clubs, where members sit in padded pews and drink deeply of self. I am looking for a people willing to be righteous not self righteous, serving not served, In short, I am looking and praying for a people who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. I hope I find this people before it's too late.
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