Jesus never hid from people the cost of following Him. He told them the challenges they would face right up front so each person could make an informed decision as to whether they did or did not want to pay the price. After all, when a man or woman becomes a disciple he or she becomes a combatant in a dangerous spiritual war. Satan is not confused about who it is who is trying to destroy his kingdom and wont let anyone take souls away from him without a fight. So serving God always encounters opposition.
In this chapter of Matthew Jesus instructs twelve of His disciples before sending them out on an evangelistic campaign. As we listen to His words we are sobered by the thought that the principles behind these warnings still apply to us today. His plan to win the world still requires great sacrifice and the intensity of the battle hasnt decreased over the past 2,000 years.
So if were going to become His disciples we must first listen to His warnings and try to understand how they apply to us. But while we weigh the cost of discipleship we must also consider the blessings promised to those who take up their cross and follow Him. Keeping this in perspective is very important because His rewards far exceed the sufferings of battle (Php 3:8). What we gain is infinitely more precious than what we lose.
A. What did Jesus tell His disciples?
- v 1 Summoned
- v 1 Empowered: authority is the right to use power
- v 5 Instructed:
- vs 5, 6 Heres your target group
- v 7 What to say
- v 8 What to do
- vs 9, 10 How you will be supported
- v 11 Where to stay
- vs 12, 13 Leave certain houses blessed as a witness
- vs 14, 15 How to respond when rejected
- v 16 Avoid trouble as much as possible
- vs 17, 18 Stay alert for betrayal
- vs 19, 20 God will help you if you are arrested
- vs 21, 22 Youll be amazed at who will betray you
- v 22 But dont disown Me just to save your life
- v 23 Flee when possible and keep looking for receptive people
- v 23 We only have a short time for this mission
- v 24, 25 Its Me they hate, not you
- v 26 God will judge those who persecute you
- v 27 Be bold to speak what the Spirit gives you to say
- v 28 Fear Gods judgment, not mens
- vs 29, 30 God knows everything that happens to you
- v 31 Dont be afraid, Hell never abandon you
- v 32, 33 Confessing Me is not optional
- vs 34-36 Confessing Me inevitably brings conflict
- v 37 Even your family may reject you
- v 38 So you must refuse to be controlled by the love of this world to be My disciple
- v 39 But your reward from God will be great
- v 40 Wherever you go peoples attitude toward God will be revealed once they discover youre My disciple
- v 41 People will respond to you differently; to the degree they believe in Me, God will bless them; some will consider Me a prophet, some just a righteous man
- v 42 But those who treat you kindly after hearing the truth about Me will be counted as righteous (Mt 25:31-46) (people can receive Me in non-verbal, non-formal ways)
B. What was a cross? (v 38)
- An instrument used to execute people
C. What does the cross represent today?
- A foundational decision in which I choose to live to please God instead of myself or others. This big decision is then lived out daily by many small decisions.
- Though we all should be prepared to die for our faith we actually encounter the cross on a daily basis.
- Gal 5:24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and decisions
- We crucify:
1) Control: Why am I doing what Im doing? (big picture) Inviting the Spirits leadership each day (daily agenda).
2) Safety: Am I willing to risk my safety to save those who are perishing? Even small steps of faith involve risk.
3) Pleasure: Will I say no to temptation and selfish desires and yes to Gods standards of holiness?
4) Respect: Will I accept Jesus shame? (Heb 13: 13
let us go out to Him
5) Self-reliance: Will I depend on the Spirit rather than my own powers?
D. When do we embrace the cross?
1) Every time we worship (Ro 12:1).
2) In the morning when we invite Jesus to lead our day.
3) When we pray before making big decisions.
4) When we welcome divine interruptions to our day.
5) When we turn our thoughts away from a temptation.
6) When we choose Gods will over our own.
E. What Jesus is not saying:
1) We cant enjoy the healthy pleasures of life.
2) Disciples are people who want to die violently.
3) We cant play, have hobbies or go on vacation.
F. Why do we embrace the cross?
- Perspective: Everything looks different from heaven.
1) This life looks short
2) People must be rescued
3) Every person counts
4) This world doesnt compare to eternity
5) Gods judgment is far more intimidating than mans
- Promise: (v 39) finding my life
2) Purpose (helping others go to heaven
3) Freedom (selfishness, fear, addiction)
4) Covenant blessings
5) Pleasure in Gods presence
6) Jesus approval (well done
1) Name something youve had to say no to since becoming a Christian.
2) There are moments in life when we discover that Jesus is serious about our taking up a cross. We face choices that are very painful. He asks us to do something we really dont want to do. Describe one such moment you faced.