Our scripture this week is Matthew 16:21-28.
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Jesus wanted His disciples to know what His purpose on earth was and what was coming. He didn’t want them surprised by the events He knew would occur in Jerusalem. If they were completely overwrought by His arrest and crucifixion, they might not be strong enough to carry on His work.
It had taken time for them to understand who Jesus was and what was expected of those who followed Him. It is the same for us as the disciples of today – we must hear His call and learn about our part in His kingdom. Jesus has work for each one of us.
Jesus was willing to sacrifice Himself for us and we must be willing to endure hardship for Him as well. The apostle Paul writes “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). Jesus has a place prepared for us; we must press on in faith to accomplish our tasks.
Gracious God, we are grateful for the challenge You call us to and the gifts You give to enable us. May we be willing and energetic servants always. Amen.