The Building of the Church & the Symbol 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 John Mark. More specifically today’s passage begins with the thirty-first verse of the eighth chapter and continues through to the twenty-ninth verse of the ninth chapter. “And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever 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; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:31-38). “And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power” (Mark 9:1). “And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for three, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. For he wist not what to say: for they were sore afraid. And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves” (Mark 9:2-8). “And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean. And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things: and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be se t at nought. But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him” (Mark 9:9-13). “And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them? And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; and wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he fometh and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. He answereth and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer youz? Bring him unto me. And they brought him unto. Him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. When Jesus saw that the. People came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting” i(Mark 9:14-29). When you come to this portion of Scripture you will find the beginning of Jesus teaching and showing unto His disciples that although they had walked with and followed Him He must. Needs suffer many things and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes and be killed. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of when reading the four gospel narratives for during the. Days. In which the disciples walked with and followed the Lord Jesus He would indeed show unto them that He must needs suffer many things at the hands of the religious elite during those days. If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that after all the times the scribes, the Pharisees, the elders of the people and the religious elite sought to destroy Jesus eventually there would come a point in time when they would indeed be able to lay hands upon Him. If you read the four gospel narratives of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ you can and will encounter and come face to face with the countless times the scribes and the Pharisees sought to lay hands on Jesus that they might destroy and put Him to death. In fact you cannot read the gospels without encountering on many different occasions the scribes, the Pharisees, the elders of the people and the religious elite conspiring together and taking counsel one with another how they might destroy Jesus. Almost from the very beginning of the public ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ the religious elite would not only target Him but they would also seek to destroy and put Him to death. The more you read the four gospel narratives the more you will come face to face with the incredible truth surrounding the religious elite which were present during those days and how the religious elite did indeed and did in fact seek to destroy Jesus from among them. I sit here today writing these words and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the astonishing truth that when you read the four gospel narratives written by the different gospel authors you will find account after account of the religious leaders seeking to destroy and put to death the Lord Jesus. Not only this but as you read the four gospel narratives you will find the religious leaders and the religious elite of that day continually seeking to find means of accusing the Lord Jesus. What we must needs recognize concerning this accusation is that it was always steeped and rooted in the incredible reality of their wanting to destroy Him. The scribes, the Pharisees, the elders of the people and the religious leaders continually sought to find means and reason to accuse the Lord Jesus—and not only seek to accuse Him but also accuse Him according to the Law of Moses and their own traditions—that they might have grounds to destroy and put Him to death. Oh what we must needs recognize and understand when reading the gospel narratives that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day deliberately and intentionally sought to find grounds to accuse Him that from and by that accusation they might be able to find grounds to destroy Him. We must needs understand that their seeking to find means of accusing Him was always rooted and grounded in their seeking to find means whereby they might put Him to death. The religious leaders of that day sought to use the Law of Moses—the very thing that spoke of and pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ in the first place as means of accusing and putting Him to death. The religious leaders would indeed seek to use the very Law of Moses as the grounds and foundation for their wanting to destroy and put Him to death. If there is one thing that is so incredibly unique about the words which are found in the gospel narratives it’s how the religious leaders of Jesus’ day sought to accuse Him on the basis and grounds of that which was written in the Law of Moses. What’s more is that not only did they seek to accuse Him on the grounds of that which was written in the Law of Moses but time and time again they accused Him of healing on the sabbath day. There are countless accounts within the four New Testament gospel narratives written by the gospel authors of Jesus healing on the sabbath and how the religious leaders of that day were greatly offended at His doing so. Jesus’ healing on the sabbath seemed to show absolutely no regard for their traditions—and not only their traditions but also for the Law of Moses itself. It was the LORD God Himself who issued the command to honor the sabbath and to reverence it as holy for even He Himself worked for six days and rested on the seventh day. Not only would the living God rest on the seventh day but He would hallow it as holy unto Himself and would later include the sabbath as one of the Ten Commandments which was known as the Decalogue. It is when you read the narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ you can and will be brought face to face with the incredible truth surrounding the sabbath and how the religious leaders of the days of Jesus sought to accuse Jesus on the basis of the sabbath. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this for when reading the four gospel narratives you can and will find account after account of the Lord Jesus Christ being accused of the religious leaders and the religious elite according to the sabbath day—and not only according to the sabbath but also according to the Law of Moses. The words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the gospel authors call and draw our attention to the incredible truth of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day seeking to accuse Him—and not only accuse Him but also accuse Him according to t he Law of Moses. Oh I am continually amazed when I read the gospel narratives for within them we find the religious leaders seeking to accuse the Lord Jesus on the basis of that which was written in the Law which was given unto Moses atop the mountain of God in the wilderness. It would be the Lord Jesus who very early on would emphatically declare that He did not come to destroy the Law or the prophets but to fulfil them for heaven and earth would pass away but not one jot or tittle of the Law would pass away. What’s more is that when Jesus delivered the parable of the rich man and Lazarus we find Abraham speaking unto the rich man who found himself in torment while Lazarus was in Abraham’s bosom experiencing joy, comfort and peace. Eventually the rich man would ask Moses to send Lazarus back unto his five brothers who were still alive that they might be spared the torment which he himself experienced. Please pay close attention to the response which Abraham gave and spoke unto Him for Abraham would declare unto him how his brothers had the law of Moses and the prophets. What’s more is that not only would Abraham declare how they had the Law and the prophets but also how if they would not believe the Law or the prophets they would not receive or believe should one be raised from the dead. Oh there is something we must needs recognize and understand when reading this particular passage of Scripture for it brings us face to face with the truth of the Law which was given unto Moses atop the mountain in the wilderness and how it would indeed point unto the coming of the Messiah. Oh the more I read the words which are found in the four gospel narratives the more I am brought face to face with the words of Jesus concerning the Law and the prophets. As you read the gospel narratives you will find the Lord Jesus declaring unto the religious leaders, the scribes, the Pharisees, and the religious elite of His day how they searched the scripture and the Law and the prophets thinking and believing that in them they had eternal life. What Jesus would go on to describe unto them is how the Law and the prophets would indeed speak to and of Him and His coming among them. It would be the Lord Jesus who would declare unto the scribes, the Pharisees, the religious elite and even the Jews concerning the Law and the prophets and how they searched both thinking and believing that in them they would have everlasting life. What makes this truly unique and astonishing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that the Law and the prophets spoke of the Messiah and the Christ who was to come. The Lord Jesus would emphatically declare unto the religious elite of His day—and not only the religious elite but also the Jews themselves—how the Law and the prophets would indeed speak of and point men unto Him. It would be the Law and the prophets that would speak of the Messiah and the Christ which was to come which would be a powerful witness that would be coupled together with the ministry of John the Baptist. The law and the prophets as well as the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist would indeed point men unto Jesus as the Messiah and the Christ—a declaration which Simon called Peter would make concerning Jesus at Caesarea Philippi when Jesus asked them who they said that He the Son of man was. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for the Law, the prophets and even the prophetic testimony and witness of John the Baptist pointed men unto Jesus as the Messiah and the Christ. It would be out of the mouth of Moses, out of the mouth of the prophets and out of the mouth of John the Baptist the reality and identity of the Messiah and Christ would be firmly established in the earth. It would be when John the Baptist would come in the earth teaching and preaching in the wilderness that He would baptize men and women with water unto repentance for the remission of sins. It would be John the Baptist who would indeed prepare and make ready a people for the coming of the Messiah through baptism and the preaching of repentance and of the kingdom of God. John the Baptist would be specifically ordained and appointed by the living and eternal God to prepare and make ready a people for the coming of the Messiah and the Christ which was spoken of and foretold in the Scriptures. John the Baptist recognized and understood that there was one who was coming after Him who was mightier than Him who would baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Oh what a truly astonishing reality this is when you take the time to think about it for it calls and draws our attention to the three-fold witness of the Law, the prophets and of John the Baptist and how all three pointed men unto Jesus the Christ as the Messiah. It would be the Law and the prophets which would speak of the Lord Jesus—and would not only speak of the Lord Jesus but would even speak of the prophetic messenger and forerunner of the Messiah who would go before His face and prepare and make ready a people for His coming and appearing. The gospel narratives are incredibly unique when you take the time to think about them for within them you will find the religious elite during Jesus’ day—those who professed themselves to be experts of the Law—completely and utterly missing that which was written in the Law and the prophets. The religious elite which was present during the days of Jesus were so hell bent on finding grounds to accuse the Lord Jesus—and even accuse Him according to the Law of Moses—that they could not even recognize that the One who was walking among them was the very One whom the Law and the prophets had spoken of. The religious leaders and the religious elite of Jesus’ day were those who not only sought to accuse the Lord Jesus but also sought to accuse Him according to the very thing which had spoken of Him. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible this truly is for the religious leaders and the religious elite—those who studied the Law and professed to be experts and teachers of the Law—sought to use the Law of Moses as grounds and means of accusing the Lord Jesus Christ. Time and time again they would seek to use the Law of Moses as a weapon and instrument of accusation and judgment against the Lord Jesus that they might somehow find means of destroying and putting Him to death. Oh we dare not and must not miss and. Lose sight of this for when we read the four gospel narratives we encounter the tremendous truth of how the religious leaders would indeed weaponize the Law of Moses that they might use it as means of accusing and condemning the Lord Jesus Christ. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to think about it. Is when you consider how the religious elite would profess to be experts and teachers of the Law and yet would seek to use it as grounds to accuse the Lord Jesus of violating the very Law and the prophets. I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture within the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark for directly on the heels of a powerful encounter between the Lord Jesus and His disciples at Caesarea Philippi would be something Jesus would begin to teach His disciples. It would be directly on the heels of the Lord Jesus asking the disciples who men said that He the Son of man was that He would begin teaching the disciples how He must needs suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, the elders of the people and the scribes and be killed. That which makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider how many times the scribes, the chief priests, the elders of the people, the Pharisees and the religious leaders would seek to destroy the Lord Jesus. What’s more is that when you come to the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will find that even the Jews themselves—particularly those Jews which were present in the land of Judaea and the city of Jerusalem—would find fault with Jesus and take offense to Him. What’s more is that not only would the Jews find fault and take offense to the Lord Jesus but they would actually seek to put Him to death. In fact chapters five through ten of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John present a powerful picture of the Jews—particularly the Jews in Judaea and Jerusalem—seeking to put the Lord Jesus to death. It would be in Jerusalem the Jews would seek to destroy and put Jesus to death while it would be the Jews in Capernaum and in the region of Galilee who would murmur and grumble against Him because of the words which He spoke. In the final verses of the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark we find Jesus beginning to teach the disciples how He must needs suffer many things and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and the scribes and be killed. Despite their many attempts and their furious desire to destroy and put Jesus to death and their being unable to do so the religious elite would finally be able to exact their vengeance and their will against and upon the Lord Jesus. The religious elite which sought to control and destroy the Lord Jesus would indeed be granted authority and power over the Lord Jesus to not only accuse Him but also to buffet Him, to spit in His face, to slap Him and to exercise their own will against and upon Him. It would be the religious leaders who would eventually get their wish and desire as they would be able to exact their revenge and their vengeance against one whom they perceived as a menace and threat to society. Time and time again the religious leaders of the days of the Lord Jesus sought to lay hands on Him that they might destroy and put Him to death and yet they would be entirely and altogether unable to do so. What we must needs recognize and understand—particularly when reading the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John—is when you consider the fact that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day continually and regularly sought to destroy and put Him to death and yet they couldn’t because His time was not yet come. ON more than one occasion within the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find it written how the Jews and the religious elite which were present during the days of Jesus sought to destroy and put Him to death and yet how they couldn’t because His time was not yet come. Despite their many attempts to lay hands on and destroy Him they would be prohibited from doing so because His time was not yet come. As you read the words which are found in the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark you will find the second of three distinct references to the Lord Jesus beginning to teaching His disciples how He must needs suffer many things—and not only suffer many things but suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, the elders of the people and the scribes. Oh if there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s the use of the word “began” for there is something incredibly significant about the use of that word. What’s more is that not only must we pay attention to the use of the word “began” but we must also pay attention to the words which the apostle Matthew wrote in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel which bore his name. It is in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle Matthew we not only find him describing how Jesus began teaching His disciples how the Son of man must suffer many things but the apostle Matthew would also present it in the context of “from that time.” It would be the context of “from that time” which would directly link it to the encounter and experience which would take place in Caesarea Philippi. Thus far both the apostle Matthew and John Mark would recount the experience at Caesarea Philippi when Jesus would ask the disciples who men said that He the Son of man was. After hearing them reveal how some thought He was Elijah, and others thought He was John the Baptist, and others thought He was Jeremiah or one of the prophets the Lord Jesus would ask them who they said that He the Son of man was. It would be in response to this Simon called Peter would emphatically declare that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of the living God. It is absolutely necessary and imperative for us to recognize the words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew for within the sixteenth chapter we are brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding this powerful encounter at Caesarea Philippi. It would be here at Caesarea Philippi the Lord Jesus would ask the disciples who men said that He the Son of man was. Immediately after this the Lord Jesus would ask the disciples who they said that He the Son of man was thus making it incredibly personal for them. It would be in response to the question Jesus would ask the disciples Simon called Peter would speak up and declare that He was the Christ the Son of the living God. Jesus would respond to Simon’s. declaration by declaring how flesh and blood had not revealed this unto him but His Father which was in heaven. Moreover Jesus would go on to declare that it would be upon this rock He would build His church and how the gates of hell would not prevail against it. What makes the words which the Lord Jesus Christ spoke so incredibly significant when you take the time to consider it is when you read how He declared the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church which He Himself would build but immediately thereafter the Lord Jesus would declare that he would suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people. Despite the fact that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church which He Himself would build it would be religion and the religious spirit which would be granted certain power and authority over Him to cause Him to suffer and ultimately be put to death. Oh what an incredible truth this truly is when you take the time to think about it for the gates of hell would not prevail against the church and yet Jesus would suffer many things at the hands of the religious elite before being put to death prior to rising from the dead on the third day. It is with all of this being said I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. The words we find here in the sixteenth chapter call and draw our attention to the absolutely remarkable and powerful picture of Jesus and His disciples at Caesarea Philippi and His asking who men said that He the Son of man was. After hearing the opinions and thoughts of others concerning who He the Son of man was the Lord Jesus would proceed to ask the disciples whom they said that He the Son of man—a question which would cause Simon called Peter to emphatically proclaim and profess that He was the Christ and the Son of the living God. I would like to invite you to consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture as I am absolutely convinced they call and draw our attention to the wonderful truth surrounding this encounter at Caesarea Philippi and how immediately after and from that time Jesus would begin teaching His disciples those things which He must needs suffer at the hands and at the behest of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew: “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do dmen say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jerremias, 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). “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 offense 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 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). It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for they bring us face to face with the intrinsic link and connection which exists between the revelation of Jesus as the Christ and the Son of the living God and the beginning of His teaching the disciples concerning the things He must suffer. What makes this truly interesting when you think about it is when you consider that it’s almost as if the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ would be a prelude to the beginning of His teaching the disciples that he must suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, elders and scribes. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt within Scripture that it was for the purpose of suffering in the flesh and ultimately dying and being put to death the Lord Jesus came and was manifested in the midst of the earth. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to this truth for within it we are brought face to face with the implication of the revelation of Jesus as the Christ and the Son of the living God with those things which He must needs suffer. There seems to be a direct connection and link between the Lord Jesus Christ being proclaimed and professed by Simon called Peter that He was the Christ and the Son of the living God and the beginning of His teaching concerning those things which He must needs suffer in the flesh. Not only this but there was a direct connection and correlation between the Lord Jesus Christ being proclaimed as the Son of the living God and the Christ and His being put to death and crucified. It would be the Lord Jesus Himself who would begin teaching the disciples that He must needs suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel before being raised from death to life on the third day. I sit here today thinking about the words which we find here and I find it absolutely incredible how it would be from the time when Simon Peter made the confession that He was the Christ and the Son of the living God that He would begin to teach the disciples those things which He must suffer and that He must ultimately be put to death. What’s more is that it would be in response to the declaration and proclamation of Simon called Peter that Jesus would emphatically declare that He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s how the Lord Jesus would build His church for I would dare say that the revelation He would begin teaching the disciples from that time on would provide a glimpse into how He would build the church—and not only how He would build the church but also how the gates of hell would not prevail against it. It wasn’t enough for the Lord Jesus to declare that He would build His church but He would also go on to declare that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Pause for a moment and consider the words which the Lord Jesus declared unto His disciples for not only would He declare that He would build His church but He would also declare that He would protect it. There is not a doubt in my mind that the Lord Jesus would not only protect the church which He himself would build but He would also build the church itself. The Lord Jesus would indeed build the church upon the foundation of His suffering and even upon the foundation of His death, burial and resurrection. The more I think about this the more I am convinced that Jesus needed to begin teaching His disciples from that time concerning the things which He must needs suffer in the flesh for in order to build His church He would need to suffer many things in the flesh. Jesus would indeed build the church within and upon the earth, however, that church would and could not be built apart from and without the suffering which He would endure in the flesh. The Lord Jesus was manifested in the flesh and took upon Himself the seed of Abraham that He might suffer and ultimately die and be put to death at the hands of sinners. Jesus would suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people before ultimately being delivered into the hands of Pilate who would in turn hand Him over into the hands of cruel sinners who would not only flog and scourge Him but would also mock and ridicule Him. The Lord Jesus Christ would indeed come in the flesh that He might suffer many things in that flesh and might ultimately be put to death that He might be buried in the earth for three days before being raised from death to life. When the Lord Jesus declared that He would build His church He would begin teaching and showing His disciples how He must needs suffer many things in the flesh before being put to death and ultimately raised from death to life. In fact, in order to truly understand this we need to consider the words which the apostle John wrote in the first chapter of the gospel narrative written by his hand as well as the words which are found in the first and second chapters of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews. Consider if you will the following words which are found within these passages of Scripture: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him. Not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:6-18). “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, but 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 angels, 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 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 love righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with t he oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast lad the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish: but thou reamainest; 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 honor, 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 thigns 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 these passages of Scripture highlight and underscore the tremendous truth surrounding the Lord Jesus Christ who did in fact come in the flesh for the purpose of suffering. What’s more is that not only would the Lord Jesus come in the flesh for the purpose of suffering but also that He might die and be buried in a borrowed tomb. There is something incredibly unique found within this passage of Scripture for it brings us face to face with how the Lord would indeed build His church for He would build His church upon the revelation that He was the Christ and the Son of the living God, however, He would also build His church upon the foundation of His death, burial and resurrection. I do not believe it is any coincidence that immediately after and from the time the Lord Jesus was professed to be the Christ and the Son of the living God for it would be in direct relation to that revelation—and not only the revelation but the declaration that He would build His church—that His suffering, His death and His burial and resurrection would indeed be the foundation. What’s more is that we must needs understand that not only would Jesus’ death be the foundation upon which the church was indeed built but it would also be the means whereby the Lord Jesus would indeed protect the church from the tactics and strategies of the enemy and adversary. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts and the words the apostle Peter spoke on the day of Pentecost as well as the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the second chapter of the epistle written unto the Colossian saints as well as the words the apostle Paul wrote in the fourth chapter written unto the Ephesian saints. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of these passages concerning the building and protecting of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith of himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:22-36). “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gifts of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? HE that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:1-16). “For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:1-15). I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and pay close attention to the words found in this passage of Scripture for they call us to recognize and understand the building and protecting of the Church by the Lord Jesus Christ. There is something incredibly unique and powerful about the words which we find in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the words which we find in the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark. Within these passages we find the Lord Jesus asking the disciples who men said that He the Son of man was—a question that would garner the response of Simon called Peter when He proclaimed and professed unto the Lord Jesus that He was the Christ and the Son of the living God. Oh we must needs acknowledge this particular truth as it calls and draws our attention to the declaration the Lord Jesus made unto Simon called Peter that He would not only build His church but also that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Within this passage we encounter the revelation of the Father who makes Jesus known as the Christ and the Son of the living God as well as the building and protection of the Church. It would be Jesus Christ who would build the church and we must understand that He would build the church upon the foundation of His suffering in the flesh. What’s more is that we must not only understand that the Lord Jesus will build His church on the foundation of His suffering but also His death and burial in the borrowed tomb before being risen from the grave on the third day. This is something we have a great need to understand as it calls and draws our attention to the truth surrounding the Lord Jesus building His church upon that which He would begin to teach His disciples. It would be from this time the Lord Jesus would teach the disciples how He must suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people and ultimately being put to death before He would be raised from death to life on the third day. With all of this being said there is something we must needs acknowledge about this passage of Scripture for directly linked to the Lord Jesus beginning to teach His disciples how He must suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, the elders and the scribes would be His declaration made unto the people who had come unto Him with the disciples. As we read the words found in this passage of Scripture you can and will find that the people came unto Jesus together with His disciples and Jesus would emphatically declare unto them that whosoever would come after Him they must needs deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him. What we must needs understand is that this wouldn’t be the first time the cross would be linked as a symbol for discipleship. It would be when the Lord Jesus was sending forth the twelve disciples as apostles He would declare unto them that they must deny themselves and take up their cross and that whosoever was not willing to do so would not be His disciple. What makes these words so incredibly unique and powerful when you take the time to think about them is that they weren’t merely spoken unto the twelve disciples but unto all those who were with them. It would be one thing to think that these words were spoken exclusively and especially unto the disciples, however, John Mark clearly indicates that this call and invitation to come unto the Lord Jesus was not only given unto the twelve disciples but unto whosoever would be with Him on this particular occasion. Scripture is unclear who was with the disciples, however, we can be absolutely certain that this invitation to deny oneself, take up their cross and follow Jesus was given unto all those other disciples who walked with and followed the Lord Jesus Christ. This is something we have a great need of recognizing and paying attention to for it calls and draws our attention to the powerful reality of the Lord Jesus Christ linking the cross to discipleship as a sign of discipleship before He would even link it to Himself as the instrument of His death. THE CROSS AS A SYMBOL OF DISCIPLESHIP AND THE RELATIONSHIP TO THE INSTRUMENT OF THE DEATH OF THE LORD JESUS! It is something truly remarkable to read the words which are found in the gospel written by John Mark for within it we encounter something the gospel written by the apostle Matthew doesn’t show us. It is within the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we get the impression that when Jesus spoke these words He was speaking them unto His disciples alone. What the gospel narrative written by John Mark presents us with is that these words about those who would come after the Lord Jesus and the need to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him wasn’t. merely spoken unto the twelve disciples but it was spoken to others who walked with and followed the Lord Jesus. When the Lord Jesus spoke and delivered these words He did so in the context of His suffering many things at the hands of the chief priests, scribes and elders of the people before ultimately being put to death and being raised from death to life on the third day. Almost parallel and side by side with this declaration is the clarion call for His disciples—both the twelve whom He had called and chosen as well as those who were with them walking with and following Him—to deny themselves, to take up their cross and to follow Him. Not only this but these words would be followed by the Lord Jesus emphatically declaring that whosoever would save his life would lose it but whosoever would lose his life for His sake and the gospel’s would save his life. As if this weren’t enough the Lord Jesus would also go on to ask what it would profit a man if he would gain the whole world and yet lose his soul—something we must needs recognize was spoken unto the disciples as well as those who walked with and followed Him. As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I feel it is imperative to call and draw your attention to the words which the Lord Jesus spoke unto His disciples and those who walked with and followed Him for in addition to all of this Jesus would ask what a man would give in exchange for His soul. Moreover the Lord would declare that whosoever would be ashamed of Him and of His words in this adulterous and sinful generation the same would the Son of man be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. There is a great need to recognize and pay close attention to these words for they call and draw our attention to the incredible truth surrounding the Lord Jesus speaking this words unto more than just the twelve disciples but unto all those who would walk with and follow Him. What’s more is that if these words were spoken unto more than just the twelve disciples on this particular occasion then we must needs recognize that they directly apply unto us. Oh there is something worth noting and considering when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture as they bring us face to face with the truth surrounding the Lord Jesus and His invitation to come after Him and how in order to do so we need to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. Not only this but the Lord Jesus also professed unto those who walked with and followed Him that whosoever would save his life would lose it but whosoever would lose his life for his sake and for the gospel would save it. In addition to this the Lord Jesus would ask what a man would profit if he gained the whole world and would lose his own soul. Not only this but the Lord would ask what a man would be willing to give in exchange for his soul thus expressing and emphasizing the need to guard with all diligence one’s soul. With this being said we must needs understand that directly linked to this would be the declaration the Lord would make concerning those who would be ashamed of Him and His words in this adulterous and sinful generation would be the same whom the Son of man would be ashamed of when He comes in His glory. Oh that we would indeed recognize and understand the significance of these words and how we must needs be those who are brought face to face with the incredible truth of discipleship and how at the very core and center of discipleship is self-denial—and not only self-denial but also taking up our cross and following the Lord whithersoever He goes.

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