From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” He said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block toe; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things. (Matthew 16:21) He was beginning to prepare them for His ultimate death on the cross. He knew His assignment on earth was to set the captives free and that His death and resurrection would complete this assignment. He explained to His disciples that they must follow Him by taking up His cross and surrendering their lives to Him. Peter did not see God’s highest plan – that Jesus’ suffering on the cross would produce the fruit of life. He was responding to Christ through “the eyes of the flesh” rather than the “eyes of the spirit.” Jesus rebuked Peter, knowing that this kind of thinking was a stumbling block to His mission. He told His disciples that as they took up the cross themselves, they would find life. How strange it must have seemed to the disciples to hear that in their suffering like Christ, they would find life!
The kingdom of God is revealed to us as we surrender our lives to Christ, take up His cross daily, and follow Him. Have you denied picking up the cross of Christ because you have reservations about surrendering your life? Remember that, like Peter, you must see things through “kingdom lenses,” lenses that help you see that self-denial brings true life.
Like Peter, I have not understood what it means to take up Your cross. I have taken the easy way out in my spiritual walk, doing those things that do not demand that I surrender everything. Today, I surrender my life to You and take up Your cross. I desire for the life of Christ to live in and through me.
In Jesus’ name, Amen