- Matt. 16:13-23
- Mark 8:34-38; 9:1
- Matt. 17:1-13; Luke 9:36b
- Matt. 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-32
- Matt. 17:24-27
- Matt. 18:1-4; Mark 9:33-35; Luke 9:46-48; 17:7-10
- Matt. 18:5-6, 10-14; Mark 9:36-37, 42
- Matt. 18:7-9; Mark 9:43-50
- Mark 9:38-41
- Matt. 18:15-22; Luke 17:3b-4
- Matt. 18:23-35
Jesus is now into His final year of ministry before He is crucified, so He turns His focus toward teaching His disciples and preparing them for His death and their future mission after His ascension. Here is one of the first things Jesus tells them:
34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
(Mark 8:34-38 NIV)
How can this be, Jesus? How can a person lose his life in order to save it? The point Jesus is making is that, if we want to receive salvation we have to come to Him, and when we come to Him, we have to submit to His reign and rule in our hearts and lives. This means that, when a person becomes a Christian—which is by definition a disciple of Jesus Christ—they are no longer in control of how they live their life, but rather are subject to Jesus' decisions and control. This means we give up our own freedom of choice for the purpose of gaining something more valuable—the salvation of our soul.
Jesus is very serious about what it means to be His disciple and the cost is something we must take into consideration before choosing to follow Him. We will be persecuted, possibly to the point of death, for His name. We will have trials and suffering, and the world will hate us. However, all of this is temporary, and when we think of what Jesus did for us, it's a small price to pay in an effort to say "Thank You!" to GOD and His Son.
This is a very important lesson for us to learn and we must treat discipleship as seriously as GOD views it. Too many people go through life claiming to be Christians when their lives show that they aren't disciples of Jesus at all. They believe they can live however they want, and, as long as they believe in Jesus, they'll be saved in the end. The Bible clearly teaches that isn't so, because that person hasn't given up their life in order to save their soul. Count the cost, decide, and live accordingly.