Hello church. It’s Thursday . . . you are nearly there, the weekend is on the horizon and only 2 more days left with my dulcet Derbyshire tones. Poor things!
On Monday we learnt through the faith of the Canaanite woman to be persistent in prayer, on Tuesday we learnt through the feeding of the 4 thousand to lean in to an abundance mindset and on Wednesday, we learnt to be on guard to false teaching or influences through Jesus’s warning about the Pharisees and Sadducees. Today’s passage is Matthew 16:13-28, Peter’s declaration of Jesus Messiah and Jesus’ prediction of his own death, but for the purposes of today, we will be honing in on verses 24-26.
Growing up in Chesterfield or Chez Vegas, we didn’t have the comfy middle-class existence I have now and therefore as a family had to be more frugal – I wasn’t wearing brand names, I didn’t have the best trainers, we certainly didn’t shop at Waitrose and we did a lot of holidays on a campsite – big up to Haven holiday club. However, what we did have was a house full of love so I never really missed any of those things and our situation did vastly improve – my parents have been really generous to my sister and I.
But, a poverty spirit seems to have remained with me. I hang on to control of every situation, including my finances. I’m like the king in the counting house, counting all his money, I force situations ahead of God’s timing and stay in situations that I should let go of. Hanging on so hard and striving to preserve myself and my situation has led to burnout and mental health issues in the past. It will do again if I continue to do so.
Jesus’s answer to this is surprisingly simple to say but exceedingly difficult and sometimes painful to do.
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
God is calling me to deny myself, my security, my little Scrooge mentality, the fortress I have built for myself and follow him. Is there anything you are holding onto? A part of you that needs to be set free?
Look I get it, it can be really painful … excruciating even. Jesus understands this pain, having suffered with us and for us. Invite him in to this pain. Speak the words out and let go, the truth will set you free.
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
You can’t gain resurrection life without dying first. We must follow Jesus this way, because it is the only way that we will ever find life. It sounds paradoxical but remember you don’t lose a seed when you plant it, though it seems dead and buried. Instead, you set the seed free to be what it was always intended to be.
What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
If we keep avoiding the process of surrender means that we may gain the whole world, all the finances and material reward this world can bring and still end up losing everything. We’re not alone in this, Jesus has been there, had the opportunity to gain all the world by worshipping Satan (Luke 4:5-8), but He found life and victory in obedience instead.
And folks … the truth is in giving our lives to Jesus all the way and he’ll give way more fulfilment, happiness, peace, joy and blessings in return.
God, I give you all of me. Search my heart and my mind every day and in all situations to see where I need to surrender to your ways and release control. I want all that you have for me. Amen!
BIBLE READING: Matthew 16:13-28
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’
They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’
‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’
Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’
Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’
Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’
Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
‘Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’