Discipleship is imitating Jesus

40 weeks of Discipleship  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  35:19
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Quarterly Business meeting next week
A very short Finance team meeting after service today
This morning we will be continuing in our series through Matthew and we will be learning about “Discipleship is imitating Jesus”. Many people have their own idea of what it means to follow Christ, but the only idea that really matters is what the Bible tells us.
The picture Jesus paints for us today, is one that is often hard to swallow. To make it as simple as possible it means to imitate Jesus.
I don’t mean to be perfect, know all truth, and tell powerful parables.
I mean to be a follower of Christ means that we walk as Jesus walked, that we are willing to suffer for Him, that we will deny ourselves and serve Him, and that we will give our entire life for the things of God just like Jesus did.
And I am positively convinced from my study of God’s Word that those things are a must for anyone expecting to go to heaven when they die. And we are going to see today that this is exactly what Jesus is saying to us.

The divine will for Jesus was to suffer, be killed, and be raised on the third day

Matthew 16:21 NASB95
From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.
Things in this gospel have changed. After the disciples have settled on the matter of who Jesus is, He now tells them what His destiny is. And what we should notice from this verse is that his destiny is God’s will. It is not to wander from town to town healing people. He came for a reason.
Notice the use of “must” which refers to the divine will of God. Jesus said he MUST go to Jerusalem, He MUST suffer, He MUST be killed, and He MUST be raised on the third day.
What was in Jerusalem? The temple. The place where sacrifices were laid upon the alter and killed as sin offerings for the people. This is also where the check priests were who were already plotting Jesus’ death. Here we have the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and He is headed right into the place where the adversary lives.
Why must suffer? Because part of his following God’s will included suffering. It was part of God’s plan. It was prophesied by David and Isaiah who said, “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.”
And then the Jesus said He must be killed. Here was the thing that they could not understand about God’s will for Jesus. The Messiah was supposed to come and conquer. He supposed to free them from oppression, bring them into a place of blessedness!
And then He must be raised on the third day. That is because had Jesus not been raised, He would simply be an ordinary man. Had Jesus stayed on the grave, we would never make it out. But his life was given as a ransom, and his triumph would come on the third day.
Matthew 16:22–23 NASB95
Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
This is the first time Jesus has spoken these things so plainly to the disciples, and as you could imagine they were surprised. And wouldn’t you know it, big mouth Peter who just confessed Jesus as the Christ, now rebukes him for doing exactly what God had sent Him to do.
Now Peter did not mean anything wrong, but his mindset was in the wrong place. He was focused on his own interests instead of the interests of God.
And this is a key when it comes to discipleship. It’s no longer about our interests. Following Jesus is not doing what we want to do, or what we think we should do, it becomes about God’s interests.
We must not ever think that we can go and build our life the way we want it and expect God to come and put His blessing upon it! This was Peter’s mistake! He had his own idea of what Jesus would be in his life and going to the cross was not part of it!
Secondly, Peter was a follower, a believer, a man whom Jesus Sid He would use to build his church. And in the next breath he is being used by Satan in an attempt to overthrow God’s plan.

You do not have to be lost to be used by the enemy

Satan will use people in the church, he will use people in the home, he will use friends family, pastors, women, men, God-fearing people to try to stop God’s plan for your life.
And do you know how not to be used by Satan? Make sure your mind is set on the things of God. How can you not be a fool in Satan’s belt? Keep your mind focused of the thing of God! The eternal things! The heavenly things! The things that really matter in this life!
Be sure, before you ever rebuke anyone for trying to o follow God’s will for their life that you are thinking about what God wants and not what you want.
But Jesus does not simply rebuke Peter. He wants them to truly understand what it means to be a disciple and so he gives them one of the clearest definitions of a disciple that I believe is found on the pages of Scripture.
If you want to know what a Christian is, this is it. There is no lesser kind of believer, it is this or nothing.

The very definition of a disciple is: imitating Jesus

Matthew 16:24 NASB95
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
Recognizing and confessing belief in Jesus as the Messiah is only the beginning of discipleship. Jesus invites every person to follow, but those who desire to follow him must have three attitudes: (1) a willingness to deny themselves, (2) a willingness to take up the cross, and (3) a willingness to follow
A willingness to deny yourself
The natural tendency of the human race is to affirm oneself, to concentrate on what serves our own interests, to make oneself as prosperous as we can. Jesus says, forget all that and “leave self behind”.
This does not mean we should strip ourselves of all dignity or self-worth. What Jesus was speaking of had to do with the disciples’ careers—their future, their own will for their lives.
We must have the willingness to say to no to ourselves and yes to God in any situation. It is a willingness to let go of selfish desires that we have and our earthly security. It is the willingness to no longer make life all about us and make our lives God centered.
“I am no longer in charge of my life, God is”
A willingness to take up his cross
In the Roman world it was common for the condemned criminal to carry his own cross to the place of execution. The disciples had seen this many times and would have easily made the connection. The cross always led to the crucifixion.
For us, it means death to our former way of life. It means submitting to the Word of God regardless of the commandments regardless of culture, regardless of what our friends think, regardless of what we think. Our allegiance is not longer to this world, it is no longer to ourselves, but to God.
There is a cross to bear for every believer. And this is not talking about some minor discomforts, but that every follower of Christ must die to their former way of life. Those who have not taken up their cross, have not started following Jesus.
A willingness to follow Jesus
To follow Christ is also a moment-by-moment decision, day by day, week after week, years after year. Jesus is saying to follow Him means that we take the same road of sacrifice and service that he took.
Now we read this and think why in the world would anyone do this. And there are likely some in here today thinking I can’t do that. What does it really matter? Can’t I just live my life like the rest of the world? Can’t I have fun, find pleasure, enjoy my life like everyone else?
And Jesus will now explain why it really matters
Matthew 16:25 NASB95
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his 1life for My sake will find it.
When you look at things from an eternal perspective, Jesus’ offer of discipleship is well worth it!
Whoever wishes to save his life. How could one save his own life?
By not giving it to God! By not denying himself! By not taking up His cross and submitting to Christ! By not following Jesus! And that is what people really think deep down they are doing by not following Christ. They think they are saving themselves, self indulgence, spreading all their time, money, talents on what they want instead of using them for God. But those people are fooled because when this life ends, they lose. They do not just lose the race, they lose their very souls.
But its not juts about losing it, its about finding it.

Life does not truly begin until it belongs to Jesus

Jesus said the life that we live before Christ is not really life! There is no fulfillment in self-gratification! There is no purpose in gaining the whole world and not having any real purpose in this life outside of possessions!
Jesus gives purpose, He gives meaning, He gives us a reason bigger than ourselves to live for! And if your here this morning and you are living for yourself then you are not truly living!
He who gives his life FOR MY SAKE WILL FIND IT!
Jesus asks us two questions
The first is this: what will it profit you, if gain the whole world and lose your soul?
This is clearly speaking about material gains.
Money, careers, land, wealth, retirement…
Is what you are truly seeking in your life is it really worth it?
Are you really gaining anything at all if everything you’ve gained your whole life will be gone when you draw your last breath.
And then not only will you lose all that you gained, you will also lose your soul and be cast into hell.
We tend to think we can override this by saying well I’m going to have fun and live my life and I’ll come to Christ and truly follow Him when I get older.
I’ll get things right later on. I can tell you, that rarely happens. But that is a lie too many people believe. The statistics show that most people 85% come to Christ before the age of 18.
What that means is all those people who said they'll get it right later on, never do. Their hearts get hard, they get set in their ways and most of them die without Christ, and lose everything.
The other question posed to us is what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Would you sell your soul for $50,000? Most of us would say no! But if you really want to know just look at your bank statement and see where your money goes. Are you faithful to God with your money?
How about time? Would you sell your soul for 4 hours a week? I wonder how many have sold it much cheaper, for only 1 hour a week.
How about talents? Dreams? Your future? Do they include God? Would you trade your soul for a vacation? A new career? A drink of alcohol or a pill to numb the pain? just plain laziness?
What would a man give in exchange for his soul?
All of that is hard but here is what we must not miss:

Jesus will reward us for everything that we have given up

Matthew 16:27 NASB95
“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.
This is what makes all of what we have just talked about so worth it. The word, “repay” means to reward. It means to give back, to recompense what has been given up. And what Jesus wants us to know this morning, is that EVERYTHING that we have given up for Him, will be replayed when we leave this world!
See your not giving things up for not reason! You are sending your treasures ahead of you! You are make wise business decisions by denying yourself now, to be replayed in much greater ways later on in life.
This is what discipleship is, it is giving up your life now, to inherit the much greater life to come. Your body will perish, your life is going to end. My life is going to end. We have no idea when that will take place but the offer to us this morning, is that if we will give up this life to follow Jesus, He will bring us into His eternal Kingdom when we leave this place and we will speaks eternity with The Lord. The two cannot be compared.
I will never stand in this pulpit and tell you if you prayed a prayer your right with God.
And not surprisingly, you’ll never find that in the Bible either.
This is what it means to be a ChristIan.
Its not about something you have done in the past, it is about where you are right now.
Are you following Jesus?
Are you imitating Jesus!
Are you living as He lived
Walk as He walked
Carrying your little cross every single day
The choice is yours
Would you consider beginning to follow Him today?
I can only promise you one thing: IT IS WORTH IT
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