Jesus asked his disciples an interesting question, “Who do people say that I am?” They gave him several answers from John the Baptist to the Old Testament Jeremiah. Clearly, people didn’t have a clue who He was. But Peter nailed it: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Later we see that Peter missed what being the Messiah really looked like.
The disciples had read the prophecies about what the Messiah would be like and in their minds, He would come as a conquering King. When Peter heard Jesus talk about suffering and dying, he rebuked Him, thinking those things could never happen to the Messiah. He missed the point and often, we do too.
Many of us love the idea of a conquering Messiah; one who will make all things right and restore everything that has been broken or lost. Make no mistake, Jesus will absolutely be and do all of that. But, we don’t feel any more comfortable with the suffering and dying part than Peter did. Jesus’ death and resurrection conquered death and the grave so that you and I could have new life with Him. Eternal life that will never end, but we are called to die just like He did. Not a cruel death on the cross like He had to endure, but death to our sinful selves so that we can be made new in Him. “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Denying myself is really hard and not something that I naturally want to do. On any given day, it could be denying myself the satisfaction of responding to someone that has hurt me in a way that would hurt them, or controlling my temper when I want to lash out. It could be keeping my mouth shut when I want to defend myself, or admitting that I’m wrong when I would much rather have everyone believe that I was right. I am faced with more opportunities to deny myself every day than I would like to admit. But I never look more like my Savior than when I am taking those opportunities to deny myself, because that’s when I’m relying more on Him than on me. That’s what losing my life to gain my life looks like.
New Hope Church