Jesus Asks For Us To Decide Who He Is

18 And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”

Jesus didn’t come to show mankind a way to live.
He said He was “the way.”
Jesus didn’t come to just show people truth.
He said He was “the truth.”
The very entirety of truth.
Jesus didn’t come to suggest a style of life.
Jesus said He was “the life.”
He came to give life, that more abundantly.
1 Tim 6:19 (NIV) that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
Jesus spoke about Himself to the multitudes.
The good shepherd.
The bread of life.
The bread that came down from heaven.
The living bread.
The light of the world.
I am from above.
The door of the sheep.
The resurrection and the life.
Teacher and lord.
The true vine, you are the branches.
Not of the world.

A. Worldly Opinion
19 So they answered and said, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.”

With as much as the Bile says about who Jesus is,…
You would think that it wouldn’t be so confusing.
But there are many opinions about who Jesus is.
Teacher, prophet, good man.
Miracle worker.
Notice that all opinions were high, but all fell short of who He was and is.
Isn’t it a better idea to let Jesus speak for Himself?

B. Heavenly Conviction
20 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”

In a parallel passage…
Matt 16:16-17 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

Truly, the most important decision a person will ever make is the decision they make about Jesus.

24 “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” John 8:24 NKJV

Warren Wiersbe…
It is impossible to be wrong about Jesus and right with God.
The crowds have their opinions,…
But Christians must have convictions.

21 And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one,
22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”

Now Jesus further clarifies what Pete had announced.
Jesus was the Christ of God, but what did that mean?

Many view Jesus in all the pleasantries.
Teacher, healer, moralist, miracle worker.

The truth is, He came to be a sacrifice.
Jesus used the word must.
Must suffer and be rejected.
Must be killed.
Must rise from the dead.
Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me,

A. Many religious movements ask you to follow a philosophy.
To adhere to a way of thinking.
To follow a list of rules.

Many think that we have the necessary tools for life.
We just need a roadmap.
That man, with proper instruction, has the capacity to make his own life and the world around him, everything that it could be.
And so a person is given a list of guidelines which, if followed, will make him everything he could be.

Other movements ask you to commit to an organization.
To the people in the organization.
Sometimes, the perpetuation of the organization becomes the goal.
In many fraternal organizations, people find a sense of brotherhood, a sense of family a sense of belonging.

They do good deeds in the community.
Have a sense of accomplishment through acts of benevolence.
Often done in the name of religion.
Often connected to a church, or connected to some form of religious philosophy.

These organizations can be very attractive to people.
Those who join them may achieve a sense of religious fulfillment.
They enjoy being part of a family.
They are pleased to be able to do good works.


Jesus asked people to follow Him.
To commit to Him.
Christians don’t commit themselves to Christianity.
They commit themselves to Jesus.

They may be dedicated to a particular church.
But the MAIN THING is to follow Jesus.
20 times in the gospels, Jesus said “Follow me.”
Following an organization isn’t the same as following Jesus.
Even if that organizations makes some reference to, or quotes the Bible.
Following a philosophy isn’t the same a s following Jesus.
Even if that philosophy makes some reference to Jesus, or Christ, or God, or the Bible.
Jesus called, and still calls, people to be committed to Him.

23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Self-Denial As A Religious Exercise
let him deny himself…
There are many religions and movements that practice self-denial.
Many disciplined people that are able to forsake self-indulgence or immediate gratification for some other
religious goal.

B. Self-Denial Can Be Self-Promoting

Business people will deny themselves extra recreational time, in order to make more money.
Disciplined to exercise b/c one might have an unhealthy, even ungodly pre-occupation with how they look.
Self-denying recreation for study time, in order to develop a good career and live selfishly.

Denial of dessert so that you look better in a swimsuit.
Wanting to be healthy isn’t bad.
But that is not the kind of self-denial that Jesus is calling for.

Is self-denial wrong?
Of course not.

Is self-denial the bottom line?
Is Jesus simply advocating self-denial and self-control?
What Jesus calls men and women to goes way beyond simple self-denial for selfish reasons.

It even goes beyond self-denial in order to accomplish humanitarian relief, philanthropic activities.

Self-denial not just for the sake of self-control, etc.

Peter once denied his Lord.

That is to say, he said of Jesus, “I do not know the man.”

To deny ourselves is to say, “I do not know myself.”

It is to ignore the very existence of oneself.

It is to treat the self as if it did not exist.

Usually we treat ourselves as if our self was far and away the most important thing in the world.

If we are to follow Jesus, we must forget that self exists.

Taking Up The Cross

What the cross means…
Jesus calls everyone wanting to follow Him to do what He will do

It was bad enough for the disciples to hear that Jesus would suffer, be rejected, and die on a cross; now He tells them that they must do the same thing!

Everybody knew what Jesus meant when He said take up his cross; everyone knew what the cross was: an unrelenting instrument of nothing but death

The cross wasn’t about religious ceremonies, it wasn’t about traditions and spiritual feelings.
The cross was a way to execute people.

We have sanitized and ritualized the cross in these twenty centuries after Jesus; how would we receive it if Jesus said, “walk down death row daily and follow Me”?

Taking up your cross wasn’t a journey, it was a one-way trip.
There was no return ticketing; it was never a round trip

Jesus makes deny himself equal with take up his cross; the two express the same idea.
The cross wasn’t about self promotion or self affirmation – the person wh0 carried a cross knew they couldn’t save themselves

Denying yourself means to live as an others-centered person.
Jesus was the only person to do this perfectly, but we are to follow in His steps

A cross isn’t a cross unless it can be refused.
The cross was an instrument of death.
Jesus willingly chose the cross, it wasn’t forced upon Him.

The cross was a symbol of shame to the Jew.
It wasn’t popular, it was shameful and unpopular.
and take up his cross daily

Jesus makes it clear that He is speaking spiritually when He adds the word daily; no one could be crucified literally everyday. But they can have the same attitude as Jesus every day

This is following Jesus at its simplest – He carried a cross, He walked down death row; so must those who would follow Him

It is a lifelong pursuit.
Have you been a Christian for a long time?
5, 10, 20 years.
Be careful not to ever think that you have done enough carrying of your cross.
That you have done enough dying to self.
The trouble with life is that it’s so daily…

Follow Jesus
If you really believe the truth about Jesus…
It is going to cost you to follow Him.
The degree of cross carrying that you do is a direct reflection on how much you really believe in Jesus.
How willing you are to lay down your own life and follow Him.
IV.Result Of Refusal
The Present Loss
24 “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it…

The Eternal Loss
25 “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?
2 Tim 2:11-12 (NIV) 11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us;

Result Of Acceptance
A. The Present Reward
24b but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
William Barclay-
A man must spend his life, not hoard it

The whole gamut of the world’s standards must be changed.

The questions are not, “How much can I get?” but, “How much can I give?”

Not, “What is the safe thing to do?” but, “What is the right thing to do?”

Not, “What is the minimum permissible in the way of work?” but, “What is the maximum possible?”

The Christian must realize that he is given life, not to keep for himself but to spend for others; not to husband its flame but to burn it out for Christ and for men.

B. The Eternal Reward
26 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.