Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 116 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Matthew 16 today and our focus is on What Does it Mean to Take Up Our Cross? .What Does it Mean to Take Up Our Cross? We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in . Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
First topic: What does it mean that Jesus is the Messiah? Surprisingly, for some, Christ isn’t the last name of Jesus. (His last name would have been something like Bar-Joseph), but Christ is the title of Jesus. Here’s our friends from Gotquestions to help us understand:
Messiah comes from the Hebrew word mashiach and means “anointed one” or “chosen one.” The Greek equivalent is the word Christos or, in English, Christ. The name “Jesus Christ” is the same as “Jesus the Messiah.” In biblical times, anointing someone with oil was a sign that God was consecrating or setting apart that person for a particular role. Thus, an “anointed one” was someone with a special, God-ordained purpose. In the Old Testament, people were anointed for the positions of prophet, priest, and king. God told Elijah to anoint Elisha to succeed him as Israel’s prophet (1 Kings 19:16). Aaron was anointed as the first high priest of Israel (Leviticus 8:12). Samuel anointed both Saul and David as kings of Israel (1 Samuel 10:1; 16:13). All of these men held “anointed” positions. But the Old Testament predicted a coming Deliverer, chosen by God to redeem Israel (Isaiah 42:1; 61:1–3). This Deliverer the Jews called the Messiah. Jesus of Nazareth was and is the prophesied Messiah (Luke 4:17–21; John 4:25–26). Throughout the New Testament, we see proof that Jesus is the Chosen One: “These [miracles] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).
Let’s read our passage and then we will discuss taking up our cross.
Here’s the verses of the day:
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it. Matthew 16:24-25
This is the second time that Matthew records Jesus saying something like this – as we read in Matthew 10:
37 The one who loves a father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; the one who loves a son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.38 And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.39 Anyone who finds his life will lose it, and anyone who loses his life because of me will find it. Matthew 10:37-38
This is life and death here – Jesus is telling us that the way to life is paradoxical – the only way to find life – real life, eternal life – is to lose your life to Jesus. What does it mean that we must take up our cross? For a modern listener, we might be thinking of cross shaped jewelry, or a decorative cross on the wall. We aren’t clued in to the horrors of the cross as an execution device. What Jesus is saying is stark and troubling and honestly disturbing, until you realize that the way to life – full life and eternal life – is through the death on the cross. To hear what Jesus is saying to us like His first century hearers would have heard it, an equivalent phrase would be to take up our electric chair, or take up our noose. The cross was an execution device, and Jesus was saying to pick up and walk with your means of execution. What a strange statement! And, though it sounds kind of horrifying, it is actually a wonderful invitation, as Tim Keller helps us to understand:
We’re told here you’re supposed to take up your cross. Jesus does not say, “Take up my teachings and follow me.” He doesn’t say, “Take up my example and follow me.” He doesn’t say, “Take up my advice and follow me.” That would crush you. If you tried to pick up Jesus’ teaching …
No, what does he say? “Take up the cross.” What does that mean? A lot of people think, “Boy, that sounds pretty awful.” In fact, Henry Sweet, who was an old commentator, wrote a couple of the best old commentaries on Matthew and Mark back in the early part of the twentieth century. He put it this way. He says to take up the cross can only mean one thing. It must mean to put yourself in the place of a condemned criminal.
“Well,” you say, “that sounds pretty negative.” Not at all, because what condemned criminal are we talking about? What condemned criminal are you supposed to be putting yourself in the place of? What condemned criminal are you supposed to be identifying yourself with? This is what Jesus is saying. “The essence of discipleship is to realize when I died you died. Identify with me.”
Paul puts it like this in Colossians 3. “… set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. […] For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” You died. The Bible says over and over again if you become a Christian … A better way to put it is the minute you believe in Jesus Christ you died on the cross with him. The Bible says you were buried with him.
What does that mean? It means God looks at you right now as if you’ve paid all the penalty for every cent of your sin. If you are a person who believes in Jesus and you start to beat yourself up because of your sin, because you feel so guilty, don’t. Why? Because as far as God is concerned, you’ve already been beaten. You’ve been flogged. You’ve been crowned with thorns. You’ve been speared. You’ve been nailed. You’ve paid it all. Your life is hid with God in Christ.
Now when God looks at you, he sees what Jesus has done. Therefore, to put yourself in the place of this condemned criminal means every day you get up, because there’s one place where Luke actually says … In Luke 9:23 he records Jesus Christ says, “Take up your cross daily.” Every day you get up and you remind yourself of who you are in Christ. That’s what we’re talking about.
You remind yourself that you have died. You remind yourself there’s nothing to prove. You remind yourself that you’re accepted. You remind yourself of what he did in order to get this done. Every day you take up the cross. What does that mean? You live in its shadow. You take up the cross. Timothy J. Keller, The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive (New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2013).
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for April James 4:6 “But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
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