Matthew 16:24-26

by | Nov 17, 2023 | Matthew, New Testament

Matt 16:24-26 (NKJV)

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
25 “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
26 “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Here we have one of the dominant and ever-recurring themes of Jesus’ teaching. These are things which Jesus said to men again and again (Matt 10:37-39; Mk 8:34-37; Lk 9:23-27; Lk 14:25-27; Lk 17:33; Jn 12:25). 
Again and again he confronted them with the challenge of the Christian life. 
There are three things which a man must be prepared to do, if he is to live the Christian life. 

  1. He must deny himself. 

Ordinarily we use the word self-denial in a restricted sense. 
We use it to mean giving up something. 
For instance, a week of self-denial may be a week when we do without certain pleasures or luxuries in order to contribute to some good cause. 
But that is only a very small part of what Jesus meant by self-denial. 
To deny oneself means in every moment of life to say no to self and yes to God. To deny oneself means to dethrone self and to enthrone God. 
To deny oneself means to obliterate self as the dominant principle of life, and to make God the ruling principle, more, the ruling passion, of life. 
The life of constant self-denial is the life of constant assent to God. 
The Holy Spirit is that One who speaks to our hearts about that which must be denied.
For all of us, there are universal things which must be denied.
Those things are spelled out clearly in the Bible.
Drunkeness, immorality, lying, cheating, etc.
For us as individuals, there are individual things which the Holy Spirit will speak to our hearts privately.
Certain hobbies that become idols.
Friendships that put us in peril of falling into sin.
I may struggle with things that are not a stumbling block for you.
But if God says I must deny myself in an area, then that’s the way it is.
It is just as much a command whether or not it is written in the Bible, or if the H.S. writes it on my heart.

  1. He must take up his cross. 

People in Galilee well knew what a cross was. When the Roman general, Varus, had broken the revolt of Judas of Galilee, he crucified two thousand Jews, and placed the crosses by the wayside along the roads to Galilee. In the ancient days the criminal did actually carry the crossbeam of his cross to the place of crucifixion, and the men to whom Jesus spoke had seen people staggering under the weight of their crosses and dying in agony upon them. 
Accept the will of God in his life.
For a cross to be a cross, it has to be something we can choose to accept, or choose to reject.
Matt 26:39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
For a man to be born handicapped, is not to pick up his cross.
The man had no option about not being born handicapped.
A man born handicapped did not have the option of refusing to be born that way.
A cross is something that we naturally will want to avoid.
It speaks of denial of self.
It speaks of accepting that which we normally hate.
Accepting that which we have no natural desire to embrace.
A cross means death to our own wishes, and accepting God’s wishes.

Jesus never tried to bribe men by the offer of an easy way. 
He did not offer men peace; he offered them glory. 
To tell a man he must be ready to take up a cross was to tell him he must be ready to be regarded as a criminal and to die. 
Jesus never sought to lure men to him by the offer of an easy way; he sought to challenge them, to waken the sleeping chivalry in their souls, by the offer of a way than which none could be higher and harder. 

  • He came not to make life easy but to make men great. 

That is to say, he must take up the burden of sacrifice. 
The Christian life is the life of sacrificial service, both to God and mankind.
The Christian may have to abandon personal ambition to serve Christ; it may be that he will discover that the place where he can render the greatest service to Jesus Christ is somewhere where the reward will be small and the prestige non-existent. 
He will certainly have to sacrifice time and leisure and pleasure in order to serve God through the service of his fellow-men. 
 To put it quite simply, the comfort of the fireside, the pleasure of a visit to a place of entertainment, may well have to be sacrificed for the duties of the eldership, the calls of the youth club, the visit to the home of some sad or lonely soul. 
He may well have to sacrifice certain things he could well afford to possess in order to give more away. 
The Christian life is the sacrificial life. 
The Christian may have to sacrifice his personal ambitions, the ease and the comfort that he might have enjoyed, the career that he might have achieved; he may have to lay aside his dreams, to realize that shining things of which he has caught a glimpse are not for him. He will certainly have to sacrifice his will, for no Christian can ever again do what he likes; he must do what Christ likes. In Christianity there is always some cross, for it is the religion of the Cross. 

Luke…..”Let him take up his cross daily.” 
The really important thing is not the great moments of sacrifice, but a life lived in the constant hourly awareness of the demands of God and the need of others. The Christian life is a life which is always concerned with others more than it is concerned with itself. 
III. He must follow Jesus Christ. 
There is the need to not only deny self and enthrone God.
Not only be willing to accept God’s will over your own will.
But then follow through with that desire of God for your life.
A lifestyle of obedience, not just a flash of agreement and temporary mental assent to God’s commandments.

That is to say, he must render to Jesus Christ a perfect obedience. 
The Christian life is a constant following of our leader, a constant obedience in thought and word and action to Jesus Christ. 
The Christian walks in the footsteps of Christ, wherever he may lead.


  1. The Result: A Life That Is Found

There is no place for a policy of safety first in the Christian life. 
The man who seeks first ease and comfort and security and the fulfillment of personal ambition may well get all these things–but he will not be a happy man; for he was sent into this world to serve God and his fellow-men. 
A man can hoard life, if he wishes to do so. 
But that way he will lose all that makes life valuable to others and worth living for himself. 
The way to serve others, the way to fulfil God’s purpose for us, the way to true happiness is to spend life selflessly, for only thus will we find life, here and hereafter.