The Cross As An Instrument of Discipleship

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically today’s passage begins with verse twenty-one of the sixteenth chapter and continues through to the twenty-first verse of the seventeenth chapter. “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. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: This shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. 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. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and shall lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 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. 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” (Matthew 16:21-28).

 

            “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain part, and was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only” (Matthew 17:1-8).

 

            “And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist” (Matthew 17:9-13).

 

            “And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for oftimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:14-21).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find Jesus beginning to teach and to speak unto His disciples something He had up until that point not spoken of. As you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find that “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.” We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the tremendous significance that is found within this passage of Scripture for there was a very specific time within the ministry of the Lord Jesus when He began to teach and to show unto His disciples how He must needs journey unto Jerusalem. The purpose for His traveling and journeying unto the city of Jerusalem was something the disciples—especially Simon called Peter—could not wrap their head around. The apostle Matthew is very careful and deliberate when writing these words to describe how from this particular time within His public ministry the Lord Jesus would begin to teach and to show unto His disciples that He needed to journey unto the city of Jerusalem. The sole reason for His journeying unto Jerusalem would actually have three different parts which would each be accomplished in their own time. If you take the time to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find Jesus needed to journey unto the city of Jerusalem to suffer, to be killed, and to be raised again on the third day. We cannot afford to miss this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it helps us understand this powerful shift and transition within the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus.

 

            As you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the Lord Jesus and how He would begin teaching and showing unto His disciples how He needed to suffer, how He needed to be killed, and how despite both of those realities He would be raised from death to life on the third day. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to consider it is when you read the words “from that time forth” as presented by the apostle Matthew. These words cannot be overlooked and ignored for they help point to a very specific time within the public ministry and life of the Lord Jesus Christ. In order to truly understand the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you must needs examine the text before it as well as the text after it. The text before it helps set the tone and the stage for these words which the Lord Jesus would indeed speak unto His disciples on this particular occasion. I would dare say that if you truly want to understand the words which the Lord Jesus spoke unto His disciples on this particular occasion it is absolutely necessary and imperative to consider the words which were presented immediately before this beginning with the thirteenth verse. It is in this particular passage we find Jesus and His disciples coming into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi. It would be there in Caesarea Philippi the Lord Jesus would ask His disciples a very pointed and specific question. In all reality it wasn’t merely one question the Lord Jesus asked His disciples but it was actually two questions. With this in mind I Invite you to consider the following words found in this passage of Scripture beginning with the thirteenth verse:

 

            “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: For flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ” (Matthew 16:13-20).

 

            It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for they not only paint a powerful picture of a specific time during the public life and ministry of the Lord Jesus but they also help set the stage and the tone for that which proceeds thereafter. If you take the time to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the Lord Jesus and His disciples coming unto the coasts of Caesarea Philippi. It would be there within these coasts the Lord Jesus would ask His disciples who others said that He the Son of man was. In response to this question the disciples of the Lord Jesus would profess how some said that He was John the Baptist while others said that He was Elijah. There were others who said that He was Jeremiah or one of the prophets. After hearing the opinions of others which they held toward and concerning Him Jesus would then transition the question to a more personal note among His disciples. After hearing His disciples present unto Him the opinions and thoughts of others Jesus would then proceed to ask His disciples who they personally said that He the Son of man was. What makes this particular passage so incredibly unique when you consider it is how it would appear none of the other disciples dared speak up when Jesus asked this question. Scripture is not clear if Simon called Peter was simply the first to speak up among the disciples or if Simon called Peter was the only one who had received revelation from the Father concerning the Lord Jesus.

 

            Upon reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find Simon called Peter being the only disciple who opened his mouth in response to the question of the Lord Jesus. It would be on this particular occasion Simon called Peter would indeed declare unto Jesus how He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. When the Lord Jesus asked the disciples what others were speaking and saying concerning Him and when the disciples presented the opinions and thoughts of others concerning Jesus of Nazareth this Simon called Peter would speak up and declare something entirely different. It would be there in the coasts of Caesarea Philippi where Simon called Peter would make the profession and confession how Jesus was indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God. It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and pay close attention to this particular truth for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding this confession of faith. We must needs remember how it was the apostle Paul who would write unto the saints of Rome concerning believing with our heart and confessing with our mouth. We must also remember the words which Jesus Himself spoke unto His disciples when He ordained them as apostles and ambassadors and sent them forth into the harvest with authority to heal the sick, to cleanse the lepers, to cast out unclean spirits and to raise the dead. Consider if you will the following words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome as well as the words which our Lord Himself spoke unto the disciples when He sent them out as laborers into the harvest:

 

            “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (That is, to bring Christ down from above) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon im. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:1-17).

 

            It is absolutely necessary we recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for they bring us face to face with an incredibly powerful truth—especially when we consider the words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. Within this passage of Scripture we encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that with our heart we believe unto righteousness and with out mouth confession is made unto salvation. Moreover it is within this passage we find the apostle Paul emphatically writing and declaring whosoever confesses with their mouth the Lord Jesus and shall also believe in their heart that God the Father raised up the Lord Jesus from death to life on the third day would be saved. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for within this passage we encounter the tremendous truth of confession being made unto salvation—and not only confession being made but a very specific confession. The confession we find within this passage is a very unique and specific confession—namely the confession of the Lord Jesus. In essence the confession we find within this passage of Scripture is the confession that Jesus is indeed Lord—a confession and statement which no man can make without and apart from the Holy Spirit.

 

            I call and draw your attention to the words which are found within this passage of Scripture for they paint a beautiful and wonderful picture concerning the confession of the Lord Jesus which one makes with their mouth. The words which we find in this passage of Scripture are absolutely astounding and incredible when you take the time to consider them for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth surrounding the confession of the Lord Jesus which one makes with their mouth unto salvation. This is absolutely necessary to think about and consider—particularly and especially when you consider the words which the Lord Jesus would speak unto His disciples when He sent them forth as laborers into the midst of the harvest. The words which we find in this passage of Scripture are directly linked and connected to the words which the Lord Jesus Himself spoke unto his disciples when He sent them forth as laborers in the midst of the harvest. It is when the Lord sent forth his disciples as apostles and ambassadors into the midst of the harvest He would also speak unto them concerning a very specific confession that would or would not be made with their mouth. There is not a doubt in my mind we must needs recognize and understand the words which are found within this passage of Scripture for it helps shine a tremendous light on to the encounter Jesus and His disciples had in the coasts of Caesarea Philippi. Please read and consider the following words which are found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:

 

            “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own h ousehold. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:32-39).

 

            Please don’t miss the incredible importance of what was spoken here on this particular occasion for here we find the Lord Jesus emphatically declaring unto His disciples that whosoever would confess Him before men the same would be confessed of Him before His Father who was in heaven. Jesus was very clear to declare unto his disciples that whosoever would make confession and profession before men concerning Him would themselves be confessed by Jesus before His Father which was in heaven. Conversely, however, those who refused to make a confession and profession concerning the Lord Jesus before men would find themselves being denied by the Son before the Father which was in heaven. The apostle Paul spoke of confession with the mouth concerning the Lord Jesus and how confession was made unto salvation and in this particular passage of Scripture we find the Lord Jesus speaking of confessing Him before men. There is a great need for us to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the Lord Jesus and the confession that was made concerning him before men in the midst of the earth. Jesus would emphatically declare and proclaim how those who confessed Him before men within and upon the earth would themselves be confessed before the Father in heaven by the Lord Jesus Himself.

 

            These words are absolutely necessary to recognize and understand—particularly when reading the words and language found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. It is in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find Jesus and his disciples entering into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi. It would be there in the coasts of Caesarea Philippi Jesus would ask His disciples two very pointed and specific questions—one which would be more personal and intimate to them than the other. There in the coasts of Caesarea Philippi the Lord Jesus would ask His disciples who men and who others said that He the Son of man was. Upon hearing this question being asked there would be some disciples who would speak up and say how some said that He was John the Baptist. The disciples would go on to declare how some believed Him to be Elijah while others believed Him to be Jeremiah. Still there were others who believed Him to be one of the prophets of old having come back and returned. Having heard the disciples exhaust the opinions and thoughts others had concerning Himself and His identity He would present the question in an entirely different light—one that was more personal and intimate to them. The Lord Jesus would ask the disciples who men said that he the Son of man was—a question to which Simon called Peter would respond by making both a profession and confession in the presence of the other disciples. It would be Simon called Peter who would speak up and would emphatically declare and confess Jesus as being the Christ and the son of the living God.

 

            What we must needs recognize when considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture is once Simon called Peter made this confession and profession of Jesus being the Christ and the Son of the living God Jesus Himself would pronounce Simon as being blessed. The reason Simon was blessed was because flesh and blood had not revealed or made known this revelation and truth unto his heart and spirit. The Lord Jesus would declare unto Simon called Peter how flesh and blood had not revealed this unto Him but rather His Father who was in heaven. This is something we have great need of paying attention to when thinking about and considering the words found in this passage of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding this confession and profession which Simon called Peter made. It’s important to recognize and understand that Simon called Peter was able to make this confession and profession—not because flesh and blood had revealed and made it known unto him but rather because the Father which was in heaven had revealed it unto Him. We must needs pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the words presented here call and draw our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the apostle Peter while He was still a disciple of Jesus making a confession and profession based on that which was revealed unto him by the Father which was in heaven. It is not clear whether or not Simon called Peter recognized and understood that it was the Father which was in heaven who revealed and made this known unto Him, however, Jesus would proclaim and declare unto Simon that it was indeed His Father which was in heaven who had revealed and made this known unto Him.

 

            The more I think about and consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding this confession which Simon called Peter would make. Simon wouldn’t merely declare and confess Jesus as being the Son of David, or the Son of Abraham, or even the Son of man. The words and confession Simon called Peter would speak were such that were much deeper than merely professing Jesus of Nazareth as being the Son of David or the Son of Abraham. The words which Simon called Peter would speak were such that would speak to the divinity of the Lord Jesus and how He was not only the Christ—the Messiah whom the Law and the prophets had spoken of—but how He was also the Son of the living God. There is something truly astonishing and captivating when you read the words found in this passage of Scripture for the Lord Jesus would reveal unto Simon called Peter that this confession did not come from revelation man could give unto Him but rather revelation which would come directly from the Father which was in heaven. That which the Lord Jesus was declaring unto Simon called Peter was that flesh and blood could not reveal such a truth unto his heart and his spirit. The disciples had already confessed and professed what others said concerning the Lord Jesus—namely how some believed Him to be John the Baptist, while others believed Him to be Elijah, or Jeremiah or one of the prophets having returned from the grave during those days.

 

            When Simon called Peter made the confession and profession concerning Jesus of Nazareth that He was indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God Jesus would emphatically declare unto him that flesh and blood had not revealed this unto him. There was not a single soul present in the midst of the earth who had revealed unto Simon called Peter the truth concerning the Lord Jesus. It would be only the Father in heaven who would and could reveal unto Simon the truth concerning the identity of the Lord Jesus. That which was revealed unto Simon by the Father which was in heaven was how Jesus was both the Christ and the Son of the living God. In addition to Jesus declaring and proclaiming unto Simon how flesh and blood had not revealed this unto him but His Father who was in heaven Jesus would go on to declare unto Simon how he was called Peter and upon this rock He would build His church. What’s more is that Jesus would also go on to declare that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church. What Jesus presented unto Simon called Peter here was more than personal revelation from the Father which is in heaven concerning Jesus being the Christ and the Son of the living God. What we find here is a declaration and proclamation of the establishment of the church upon the rock which was present on this particular day. The church would indeed be established upon the rock and the foundation of this personal revelation from the Father which was in heaven. The church would indeed be established by this person revelation from the Father concerning Jesus and how Jesus is indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God. What’s more is that not only would the church be established and built upon this rock and foundation but the Lord Jesus would also declare the gates of hell would not prevail against the church.

 

            I have to admit there is something absolutely astounding and incredible about the words which are found within this passage of Scripture. The words which we find here in this passage of Scripture not only present us with personal revelation of the Father within the heart and spirit of an individual but also how it would be upon this revelation and upon this confession and profession the church would indeed be established in the midst of the earth. Jesus would emphatically declare that it would be upon this rock He would build His church and how the gates of hell would not prevail against Him. This is something we must needs recognize and pay close attention for when you study the history of the coasts of Caesarea Philippi you will find that it was directly linked to Mount Hermon which wasn’t far from its coasts. If you study the history of Caesarea Philippi as well as its geographical location you will find that it would be closely connected to mount Hermon which would be in the northern portion of Israel close to the border of Syria. Mount Hermon has long been believed as the place where the sons of God descended upon the earth and took up council against the Holy One who sat upon the throne in heaven. What’s more is that in this particular place it was believed there was a cave which was present at mount Hermon which might very well be a gateway, a portal and a path to the underworld and to hell itself. When Jesus spoke the words unto Simon called Peter concerning the gates of hell I am absolutely convinced He would make this profession and proclamation in a place that was directly connected and associated with the very gates of hell in the earth.

 

            The words which we find in this passage of Scripture call and draw our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding this revelation which would be revealed unto Simon called Peter. The Lord Jesus would indeed declare unto Simon called Peter that flesh and blood had not revealed this unto him but His Father which was in heaven. Moreover it would be in this place the Lord Jesus would declare and profess unto Simon called Peter that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church. As you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the Lord Jesus declare unto Simon how the gates of hell would not prevail against the church which would be established upon the rock of the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is something truly necessary and imperative about this passage of Scripture for within it we are brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the Lord Jesus and his declaration and profession concerning the church and the gates of hell not prevailing against it. There is something absolutely powerful within this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome truth surrounding the revelation of the Father which was in heaven—the revelation that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of the living God. Not only this but the Lord Jesus would also declare unto Simon called Peter that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church—this despite the fact that the gates of hell would indeed make every attempt to prevail against it. What we must needs recognize and understand concerning this particular truth is that the Lord Jesus would declare unto Simon called Peter that the gates of hell would indeed make every attempt to prevail against the church but that the gates of hell would not prevail against it.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the church and the gates of hell. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the incredible truth surrounding Jesus’ words on this particular occasion. The words which the Lord Jesus describes unto Simon called Peter—and only Simon called Peter but also unto the other disciples—are absolutely incredible when you take the time to think about and consider them. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this incredible and tremendous truth for it calls and draws our attention to the truth which the Lord Jesus declared unto Simon called Peter concerning the gates of hell. There is something incredibly strong and powerful about the words which are found in this passage and how the Lord Jesus was indeed speaking in a place where the council of the gods would take place. It would be in this particular place where the Lord Jesus would emphatically declare unto Simon called Peter and the other disciples that the gates of hell would not and could not prevail against the church. The words and truth that is found in this passage of Scripture is directly in alignment with that which we find in the fifty-fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah when the prophet declares that no weapon formed against you shall prosper. Not only would the prophet declare that no weapon formed against you shall prosper but he would go on to declare that every tongue which rises against you in condemnation you shall cast down. We must needs recognize and understand this tremendous and incredible truth for it in no way suggests that weapons won’t be formed against us and that there won’t be tongues that will rise up against us in condemnation.

 

            The words and language we find here in this passage of Scripture are incredibly strong and powerful when you take the time to consider them for in a context where Jesus asked the disciples who men said that He the Son of man was He would also speak of the revelation of the Father which was in heaven. The Lord Jesus Christ would emphatically declare and profess unto Simon called Peter that flesh and blood had not revealed this unto him—this in addition to the awesome and wonderful reality of his being transformed from Simon to Peter. In performing this name change it was more than simply a name change for it would also be a complete transformation of Simon himself. The name Simon literally means “pebble” whereas Peter means “rock,” thus signifying a tremendous change and transformation within the heart and life of Simon called Peter. There is something we must needs understand concerning this particular occasion for not only did Jesus proclaim Simon to be called Peter but He would also declare that it would be upon this rock He would build His church. How absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to think about and consider the words and language which is found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful reality of Jesus Himself building His church. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning the church it’s that not only does it belong to the Lord Jesus but it is also the Lord Jesus who can, will and does build it. It is the Lord Jesus Himself who takes full ownership of the church and it would be on this particular occasion where Jesus first mentions and speaks of the church. It is on this particular occasion where the Lord Jesus emphatically declares and professes unto Simon called Peter that He would build His church and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it.

 

            As I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture I can’t help but be brought face to face with the incredible truth surrounding Jesus’ words. Jesus would not only make the declaration that He would build His church but He would also make the declaration that the gates of hell would not prevail against this church. There is something incredibly powerful about the language that is being used in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the establishment and building of the church and the safety, the surety and the security of the church. With these words Jesus not only declared unto Simon called Peter that he would build his church but he would also declare that He would protect His church. The Lord Jesus declared unto Simon called Peter that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church thus signifying the powerful truth that the church would itself be strongly protected by both He and the Father. There is not a doubt in my mind the same language that is used in this passage of Scripture is similar to that which is found in the fifty-fourth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah. It is in this particular prophetic book we find the prophet emphatically declaring that no weapon formed against the people of God would prosper and how every tongue which rose against them in condemnation and accusation they would cast down. We must needs pay careful and close attention to this as it brings us face to face with the words and language used by Jesus on this particular occasion. The Lord Jesus would indeed declare unto Simon and the other disciples that it would be upon this rock He would build His church—and not only would it be upon this rock He would build His church but also the gates of hell would not and could not prevail against it.

 

            The words and language found in this passage of Scripture call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the Lord Jesus and how on this particular occasion—perhaps even in the shadow of mount Hermon—Jesus would declare unto Simon called Peter and the other disciples that He was going to build His church. Here in the shadow of mount Hermon and in a place where there was believed to be a portal and gateway to hell itself the Lord Jesus would declare unto His disciples that He would build His church—and not only that He was going to build His church but also that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Despite the many attempts the gates of hell would indeed make to try and prevail against and overtake the Church of the Lord Jesus it would be He alone who would build and protect it. How absolutely incredible it is to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and to encounter the tremendous truth of the Lord Jesus concerning His church and how the church would indeed be built upon the rock and foundation of Peter’s confession. Not only this but in addition to the church being built upon the rock and foundation of Peter’s confession the gates of hell would and could not prevail against it. How absolutely remarkable and incredible it is to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and come face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the establishment of the church as well as the security of the church. Despite the best attempts from the gates of hell against the church there would not be a single one that would or could prevail against it. There would not be a single weapon formed against the church of the Lord Jesus—the true church of the Lord Jesus—that would prevail against it nor would the gates of hell prevail against it. The Lord Jesus would not only build but would also preserve and protect His church and the gates of hell would never prevail against it despite its furious attempts to overtake and overcome it.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the tremendous power and authority Jesus has within and over His church. The Lord Jesus would Himself make a wonderful and powerful proclamation on this particular day and would declare that he would build His church within and upon the earth. The Lord Jesus would emphatically declare and proclaim unto His disciples here in Caesarea Philippi that He would indeed build His church and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible and wonderful the words within this passage truly are for it would be here in the very place mount Hermon would cast a shadow and here in this very place where there was perceived to be a gateway and entrance to the gates of hell the Lord Jesus would emphatically declare that He would build His church and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. There is something incredibly powerful about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the tremendous establishment and protection of the church within and upon the earth. The Lord Jesus Christ would indeed build and establish his church upon the personal revelation of the Father that He was the Christ and the Son of the living God—a confession which the apostle Paul would speak of when writing unto the saints which were at Rome. The apostle Paul would indeed speak of making the confession of Jesus as Lord and how such a confession with one’s mouth would be unto salvation. This is something we must needs recognize and understand when considering the words found in this passage of Scripture as the rock and foundation of this revelation would be that which the Lord Jesus builds His church—the church which the gates of hell would and could not prevail against.

 

            If you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find how in this passage of Scripture Jesus would declare how he would give the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatsoever his disciples would bind on earth would be bound in heaven and whatsoever they would loose on earth would be loosed in heaven. It would be at this particular point in time the Lord Jesus would begin to show forth unto His disciples how that He must go unto Jerusalem and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests. Jesus would indeed declare unto his disciples how He must needs journey unto the city of Jerusalem and there in Jerusalem He would suffer many things of the elders and chief priests before ultimately being killed. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely awesome and powerful truth surrounding that which Jesus knew and understood concerning His own purpose within and upon the earth. Having just declared that He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it Jesus would now declare unto His disciples that he must needs go unto Jerusalem and suffer many things before ultimately being killed. Jesus knew and understood that He needed to journey unto the city of Jerusalem and He knew and understood that He would need to suffer many things before ultimately being killed. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact this would be the first time Jesus would speak unto His disciples concerning His needing to journey unto Jerusalem where He would suffer and be killed. This would indeed be the first time the Lord Jesus would speak unto his disciples and declare unto them that despite His being the Christ and the Son of the living God he must still suffer many things at the hands of the religious elite of that day and be killed.

 

            I am writing these words and I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the Lord Jesus and how despite the fact he was indeed the Son of God He knew that as such he would suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests and the elders of the people. Jesus knew that He must needs journey unto Jerusalem and that there in the city of Jerusalem He would suffer many things at the hands of the religious elite which were present there. Jesus knew that He would suffer accusation, scourging, mocking, ridicule, mistreatment and so much more before being delivered into the hands of the Romans to be killed. Scripture is entirely and altogether unclear when reading the words found in this passage at what point during the public ministry of Jesus He would make such a declaration, however, we can be absolutely certain that Jesus knew the purpose for which He had been sent to the earth. Jesus knew and understood that He had come to the earth to suffer many things before ultimately being killed outside the city. Jesus knew that He must needs journey unto the city of Jerusalem and that it was for this reason He had come in the flesh—to suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests and elders and ultimately be killed. What’s more is that when you read the words which are found in the first two chapters of the epistle written unto the Hebrews you will find the author not only speaking of the divinity of the Lord Jesus but also the humanity of the Lord Jesus. It would be through His humanity that He would indeed be able to suffer in the flesh—and not only suffer in the flesh but also to be killed and crucified at the hands of sinners. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the first and second chapters of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews:

 

            “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angelsx, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou reaminest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:1-14).

 

            “For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crowndest him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:5-18).

 

            The words which we find in this passage of Scripture are absolutely incredible when you take the time to truly consider them for they bring us face to face with the humanity and divinity of the Lord Jesus. Within this passage we clearly see how that Jesus needed to come in the flesh for it would in His coming in the flesh He would be able to suffer many things at the hands of the religious elite of His day as well as sinners. Moreover it would be through His coming in the flesh He would be able to experience death at the hands of the religious elite, at the hands of the Jewish mob and ultimately at the hands of the Romans. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth for there is something truly powerful about the words which we see here—namely, how the Lord Jesus would indeed and would in fact come in the flesh knowing full well the things He must suffer and how He must needs die. There is a great need to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the words presented here call and draw us into the place where we understand and recognize the Lord Jesus needing to come in the flesh that He might suffer and experience death upon the earth. How absolutely incredible it is to read these words and to see how Jesus not only took upon Himself flesh and blood but also took upon Himself the seed of Abraham that he might indeed suffer at the hands of the Jewish religious elite as well as the Jewish mob itself. There is a great need to pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage as it brings us face to face with the awesome truth surrounding the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus in the flesh.

 

            What makes this particular portion of Scripture all the more is how it is structured by the apostle Matthew. The apostle Matthew presents his readers and audience with the Lord Jesus together with His disciples in Caesarea Philippi where He would ask them who they said that he the Son of man was. It would be there in Caesarea Philippi where not only would Simon called Peter profess and confess Jesus as being the Christ and the Son of the living God but it would also be in this particular place where we find the Lord Jesus declaring unto Simon how flesh and blood had not revealed this unto him but his Father who was in heaven. Not only this but within this passage of Scripture we find the Lord Jesus declaring unto Simon that upon this rock He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Immediately following this encounter between Jesus and His disciples we find Him declaring unto them how He must needs journey unto the city of Jerusalem where He would suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests and elders before ultimately being killed and rising from death to life on the third day. Following this we find Jesus taking with Him Peter, James and his brother John up a mountain where He would be transfigured before their faces. There atop the mountain the Lord Jesus would indeed be transfigured before their faces as His appearance would be altered and He would appear as bright as the sun clothed in brilliant white garments. Not only this but it would be there upon the mountain where the Lord Jesus would appear speaking with Moses and Elijah concerning His decease and those things which He must needs suffer in the city of Jerusalem.

 

            There is a great and tremendous truth that is found within this passage of Scripture as it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and wonderful reality of the progression that is found in the public ministry of Jesus. Sandwiched between the profession and confession that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of the living God and Jesus’ transfiguration is the declaration that He needed to journey unto the city of Jerusalem where He would suffer many things before ultimately being killed. What’s more is that sandwiched between the confession and the transfiguration would be a tremendous and powerful invitation given by the Lord Jesus unto His disciples. It would be on this particular occasion we find the Lord Jesus once more making a similar declaration to the one He made to His disciples earlier on when he sent them forth as laborers into the harvest.  Earlier Jesus would declare that if any man was unwilling to deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Him they were not worthy of Him. Now on this particular occasion we find the Lord Jesus once more speaking of self-denial and the cross. On this particular day the Lord Jesus would declare that if any man would come after Him they must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Him. What’s more is that Jesus would go on to declare that whosoever would save his life would lose it and whosoever would lose his life for His sake would find it. Jesus would also ask what a man would profit if he should gain the whole world and yet lose his soul. Not only this but Jesus would also go on to ask what a man would give in exchange for his soul—two questions which we must needs recognize and ask ourselves when examining our own walk as disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the truly wonderful connection between the suffering and death of Jesus and the need for us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. We must needs recognize that before the cross would be the symbol and instrument of the death of the Lord Jesus it was first and foremost a symbol and instrument of our discipleship before Him. The Lord Jesus made the declaration—not once but twice—that anyone who wished to come after Him must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him. Not only this but the Lord Jesus would also emphatically declare that anyone who did not deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him would not be worthy of Him. Jesus would also declare that whosoever would seek to save their lives in this life would lose it but whosoever would lose His life for His sake would find it. We must needs recognize and understand this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it brings us face to face with the direct and intrinsic link and connection between the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus and the taking up of our cross as we follow Him. The cross is so much more than merely a symbol of the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus for it was also a symbol of discipleship. The cross is indeed the main symbol and instrument of our being willing to deny ourselves, to come after the Lord Jesus and follow Him. We must needs understand and acknowledge how absolutely incredible this is for it calls and draws our attention to the reality of our own self-denial and the taking up of our cross that we might follow after the Lord Jesus.

 

            Within this portion of Scripture we find the Lord Jesus being confessed and proclaimed by Simon as the Christ and the Son of the living God. Even though the Lord Jesus would indeed be the Christ and the Son of the living God He must still needs suffer in the flesh and ultimately being killed before being raised from death to life on the third day. What we find here in this passage of Scripture is an incredibly powerful picture of Jesus being professed and confessed as the Christ and the Son of the living God and then declaring He would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Jesus would go on to begin teaching and showing His disciples how He must needs journey unto the city of Jerusalem where He would suffer many things at the hands of religion and the religious leaders before being killed. With the context of His own suffering Jesus would then declare unto His disciples that if any man would come after Him they must be willing to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him. It’s actually quite interesting to read the words which are found in this passage and how there were two things Jesus didn’t say. As you read the words found in this passage you will find Jesus didn’t instruct His disciples to take up His cross thus suggesting that His cross was that which they needed to take up. Moreover Jesus did not declare unto His disciples that they must take up “the” cross thus suggesting there was one singular cross which His disciples needed to take up and carry. In addition to this you will find Jesus did not declare unto His disciples how they needed to take up each other’s cross and follow Him. That which the Lord Jesus declared unto His disciples was that each man had their own cross which they needed to carry and bear themselves in this life if they wished to come after and follow Him.

 

I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the incredible language Jesus used when speaking unto His disciples. Jesus would indeed declare unto His disciples that if they wished to come after Him they must needs first deny themselves and from that place of self-denial they would then be able to take up their cross. What we must needs recognize is that the cross you have been called to carry and bear is not the same cross I have been called to carry and bear. It is indeed true we have all been called to deny ourselves, to follow Jesus and to take up the cross, however, the cross we are to take up is our own individual and unique cross. The cross I have been called to take up and carry is not the same cross you have been called to take up and carry and we haven’t been called to take up the cross of another. With this being said, however, we must needs recognize that even when Jesus took up His cross He could not carry it the whole way to the place of the skull where He would be crucified. The Roman soldiers would indeed compel one of Cyrene—Simon by name—to help Jesus carry His cross unto the place where He would ultimately be crucified. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that not even Jesus Himself could carry his cross by Himself. The four gospels paint a powerful picture of how the Lord Jesus had another come alongside Him to help Him carry His cross. While it is indeed true that we have been called to take up and carry our own individual cross(es) it is also true that there are times when we must needs help another take up and carry their cross. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which the Lord Jesus spoke on this particular occasion for His words call and draw us into the place where we understand that we have indeed been called to take up our own cross and that we as His disciples each have our own cross we are to carry. The question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to be those who will deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him that we might truly, fully and completely be His disciples.

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