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Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
In recent years, a movement known as “New Atheism” has produced a stream of literature rejecting (and mocking) the idea of the existence of God. Many of these authors turn a blind eye to the evidence around them and claim that there is absolutely no proof for God’s existence.
In today’s passage, the Jewish leaders were equally blind to the evidence around them. Despite Jesus’ teaching and numerous miracles, the Pharisees and Sadducees continued their resistance and demanded a “sign from heaven” (v. 1). Jesus not only rejected their spiritually blind request but also warned His disciples about their teaching. Beware! A willful resistance to the work of God is like yeast that infects and taints the whole lump.
That challenge from the Jewish leaders, however, did lead Jesus to ask an important question: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (v. 13). His disciples reported a variety of responses. But Peter, speaking on behalf of the disciples, articulated the correct answer: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God” (v. 16). That proclamation, said Jesus, would be the “rock” or foundation of Christ’s church.
Yet even the disciples needed to have their understanding developed. Jesus explained that being Messiah meant rejection, suffering, and crucifixion—not what the disciples expected! When Peter objected, Jesus condemned any perspective that tried to prevent Him from fulfilling His purpose on the cross.
That identity as suffering Messiah has implications for Christian discipleship as well, as we can see in our key verse today. Christ’s death and resurrection brings life. And following Christ means walking in the way of the cross and giving up our selfish agendas. Only then will we find life in Him.
Apply the Word
The Book of Common Prayer summarizes this lesson about following Jesus; make it your prayer today: “Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Pray with Us
Our Public Safety officers ensure the safe environment on Moody’s Chicago campus every day. Today, Thomas Jackson, Justin Jansma, Ryan Jenkins, and Timothy Kirkpatrick would welcome the prayers of the Moody family.