can render us absolutely secure to the allurements of sin. It is only the continuous supply of the grace of God in answer to our prayer and our faith that can shield us. Peter, however, was not a mere passive instrument in the hands of Satan. There was a point of contact in his own heart for the suggestion of the Evil One. Our Lord's rebuke, while clearly pointing to a superhuman Tempter standing back of Peter, certainly involves a degree of blame for Peter himself. This appears from the statement: "Thou mindest not the things of God but the things of men" in which the contrast between God and men would not be applicable to Satan. Peter's words were not inspired by a concern for the accomplishment of the saving purpose of God, to which Jesus had so clearly referred when he said, I must go to Jerusalem and suffer, but by a concern for human comfort and safety. This is what our Lord calls minding not the things of God but of men. Perhaps the general form of the statement (which speaks of men in the plural) may be taken to indicate that Peter's concern had not merely related to the Savior's human comfort and freedom from suffering, but that he had also been thinking of his own safety and ease when he spoke those impertinent words: "This shall never happen unto thee!" At any rate it will be observed that our Lord's answer is not in the main a reaffirmation of the necessity that he himself should suffer and die, but rather an emphatic assertion of the consequences which this will involve for the disciples and of the duty which it will impose upon them to follow him along the same pathway of suffering: "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it." Taking Up the Cross Now let us look for a moment at the principle expressed in these words in the light of the connection described. If any man would come after me, would be my disciple, my follower, let him deny himself as resolutely as I deny myself; let him be ready, when the necessity arises and the call comes, to take up his cross, as I will take up my cross, to sacrifice his life, as I will surrender mine. Identification with me, the Lord means to say, will probably entail the loss of life. The primary reference is undoubtedly to the sharp conflict of persecution upon which the cause of Christ was to enter. To take up the cross is not to be understood in the first place in the figurative sense we are accustomed to attach to it as a metaphor for the endurance of trials in general. Our Lord literally meant to say: "If any man would be my disciple, let him be ready to go on the scaffold with me!" The immediately following words show this, for there Jesus speaks without metaphor of the losing of life and of the finding of life, i.e., of the losing of temporal life here for his sake and of the finding of eternal life in the day of judgment when he shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels. Our Lord could condition these two things upon one another, could represent the surrender of life as a guarantee of salvation and the opposite as entailing everlasting loss of the soul because in the situation to which he was looking forward, the sacrifice of life would mean a profession of him and the refusal to sacrifice it would mean a denial of him. By holding up before their eyes both this glorious and this awful prospect, he seeks to nerve his disciples for the career of martyrdom that was awaiting so many of them. And who can estimate the influence which sayings like this in their clear, pointed, antithetical form must have exerted upon the first generation of early, persecuted, cross-bearing Christianity. The echo of such words is heard in almost every martyr's confession. They may have well been in Peter's mind when his own cross loomed up before him together with those other words of the
Published on Apr 28, 2010
Published on Apr 28, 2010
A Sermon on Matthew 16:24-25 can render us absolutely secure to the allurements of sin. It is only the continuous supply of the grace of God...