The Cost: Matthew 16:24-28
“24) Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25) For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26) For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27) For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. 28) Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” Matthew‬ ‭16‬:‭27-28
Jesus responded to the rebuke of Peter with this pointed teaching on the cost of following Him. Just as Jesus was facing a cross, every Christian must be willing to lay his or her life down for Jesus Christ.
Professing to be a Christian defines you. Your new identity is no longer self, it becomes Jesus Christ. The irony is that whoever wishes to save his life loses it, but whoever loses his life for the sake of Jesus gains it. How can that be?
No matter what life pursuit you set your mind on, it ends up consuming you. The pursuit of wealth can consume you. The pursuit of fame can consume you. The pursuit of pleasure can consume you. The pursuit of power and influence can consume you. The pursuit of living as a hermit off grid can consume you. You tithe your life to it. In the end, it costs you everything.
Here is the problem, when your life is over all of those pursuits crumble and amount to nothing. Every worldly hero ends up forgotten by successive generations. You can chase those things and forfeit your soul. No earthly pleasure is worth eternal regret.
The difference in following Jesus is that every day makes a deposit in heaven for eternity. In this text, He promises to come back with His angels and His recompense is with Him. He will reward the righteous and judge non believers.
But you ask; “How do you know it’s true?” “How do you know Jesus Christ is the right way?” Ok, I concede, those are fair questions. My answer is; “I’ve studied the evidence!”
Go back and review this whole context from Matthew 16:13. It all hinges on the person, works, true identity, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If He is indeed “the Christ, the Son of the living God”… then His promises are faithful and true.
Your search is truly that simple! It doesn’t hinge on sincerity, devotion to a religion of trying to earn acceptance by being good or doing good. You can never know in a works based religion how much good is good enough. The redemption of the human soul is very costly. There has to be a better way.
According to the Bible, salvation comes down to Jesus Christ being Who He claimed to be. The Bible teaches that His death and resurrection validated His claim of deity. (See Romans 1:4 & 1 Corinthians 15) Paul told his critics that Christianity stands or falls on the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
By the way, I’ve noticed the grave of every great human philosopher and religious leader is occupied, but the tomb of Jesus Christ is empty. His resurrection sets Him apart from the pack… exactly as He promised in this context. (Matthew 16:21) That is significant! He repeatedly foretold of His death and resurrection before the fact.
But there’s more; His death and resurrection fulfilled every prophecy, ceremony, type, shadow and analogy in the entire Old Testament about the promised Redeemer Messiah. The evidence completely fulfills the words of John the Baptist; “Behold, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29)
My challenge to you is to study the evidence and then determine where you are going to invest your life. The way I see it, you have about four alternatives.
First, you can live for self. But I must warn you that you have no power to determine your eternal destiny. Look in the mirror… you are a mere mortal! Second, you can live for the world. May I observe that it is bent 180 degrees in the wrong direction. It’s GPS is programmed toward hell. Third, you can chose any other world religion or philosophy. I’ve already noted that their founders are decaying in a grave. They can only offer what they found! Finally, you can put your faith in Jesus Christ and live for Him. The evidence of His birth, life, works, teachings, death, burial, resurrection and ascension are amazing.
But there’s a catch; following Jesus Christ means He becomes Lord and Master of your life. It changes everything about you. But there’s also a promise; you become a child of God through faith and heir of all the blessing in heavenly places “In Christ” for all eternity.
My Story: I put faith in Jesus Christ at age 16. I am now 65 and the clock is still ticking. He is still conforming and changing me to His likeness. What I gave up to follow Him is rubbish compared to what I’ve gained in knowing Him. I cannot described the riches of the glory I have gained in Christ that totally dims any suffering I have endured for His sake.
The ball is now in your court. You must determine who and what you will live for and what you will die for when your final breath determines your eternal destiny. I strongly urge you to consider Jesus Christ! Life is short, but eternity is a very long time. Jesus followers chose to live with eternity in mind!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global