What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus? It means that with our lips we confess that Jesus is the Messiah, the One who has come to deliver us from the bondage of our sin. And with our lives we demonstrate that, indeed, we have been freed from the power and lust of sin as we choose to pattern our lives after the life of Jesus. We’re good at the first part. It’s the second part we have trouble with, as did Peter.
The crux of the problem is in understanding exactly what it means for Jesus to be the Messiah, and then for us to live the way Jesus lived. Jesus tried to explain to his disciples that through his suffering and death God would bring about the deliverance and redemption of all people; through the weakness and importance of the cross, God would triumph over death and make a spectacle of the cross. This was contrary to the disciples’ and the Jewish people’s expectations of a Messiah. They were looking for a deliverer from their oppression under Roman rule, a Superman-type who was good and just, with a touch of Rambo who could shoot ‘em up if need be. A dead Messiah would not do them any good.
As followers of Jesus, it is our privilege not only to believe on him, but to suffer for him as well. It is God’s design that in and through our suffering, we are delivered. As we each take up our own cross and live out our own deaths, God works out the beauty of God’s character in its place, so that others may see God in our lives. As we purposefully choose to walk the way of the cross and lose our lives, God is glorified and we, in turn, find the true, abundant life Jesus desired for us.
—Ms. Susie Wong
- Where do you resist the path of self-denial and suffering in your life, and instead prefer the easy way out?
- Name people today who are held up as stars and celebrities. What “qualifies” them for this status?
- Name people today that Jesus would hold out as models of the way of the cross, the Beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount? Why would he choose these people?
- Think about your own goals and ambitions. Do they most closely resemble the people of questions #2 or #3? Where do you need to change your direction in life?How Do I Act?
- Read the rest of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:13-7:27. Identify 2 or 3 areas from Jesus’ sermon that he is calling you to strive towards in your life. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s leading and empowering in your life.
- Be watchful and seize opportunities to be helpful in low-profile tasks in your church. Don’t tell anyone of your deeds.
- Take time this week to visit with the sick and elderly or help with children in a needy school.