Summary of passage: Jesus says whoever acknowledges me, I will acknowledge in Heaven. Whoever doesn’t, I will disown him. I have come to win your love and belief. You are not worthy of me if you love anyone else more than me. You must take up your cross and follow me. You will have life if you lose it for my sake. Those who help you will be rewarded.
11a) They must acknowledge him before men. They must love him more than anyone else. They must take up their cross and follow him and lose their life for his sake.
b) Personal Question. My answer: Love God more than anyone else and acknowledge that everything in my life is from Him and is His.
12a) Jesus’ primary goal is not to bring world peace but to bring peace to those who choose him. His goal is to bring those who believe in him to God and that may mean turning from the ways of this world and your relatives to Him. Thus, since we are first in God’s life, then so must God be first in ours or we are unworthy.
A sword divides. Here, it is the dividing line between Heaven and Hell. You choose which side you will be on. And family members may be on the other side.
b) There is strife among relatives as to where our hearts should lie. There is not world peace because each must choose Him and not everyone does according to Free Will. God is not forcing us to choose Him. True peace lies within–something we only have when we have Christ.
13) You must be willing to give up everything, including your life and family and be hated, to follow Jesus. You can only live when you let go of your life here on Earth and you when you do lose your life (or die), you will then have eternal life. Paradox? Yes. But how God works.
See POST I wrote a while back on this topic.
14) Half-personal Question. My answer: You are rewarded when you do something for a believer whether it be as simple as a glass of water or hosting a believer, prophet, or righteous man. We are working for God when we help those called by God and those who are doing God’s work (which should be all believers). What you do for others you do for Jesus as well. We must extend this to work we do for unbelievers as well as believers. For God works for them as well.
I have to remember this when dealing with people I don’t want to be dealing with (and now that the holidays are fast approaching, there’s a lot of those people!); remember I am doing it for Jesus as well as for them. This is a challenge.
It’s encouraging because it makes me feel like even the little things add up because sometimes I feel like I’m not doing anything in this world but taking up space. I let the guilt and pressure of this society get to me, telling me I’m not doing enough, I’m not successful enough, I’m not enough when in reality I am because God says I am.
Conclusions: For me, the last question nailed what this lesson was about. We are enough for God no matter how insignificant we feel at times. We matter and He knows that and that should be all we care about. Sometimes I let the world dictate this when I shouldn’t. I am here, doing God’s will, and the world can kiss it if they don’t like it!
End Notes: BSF glossed over the “before men” in verse 32. Jesus called all his disciples publicly. We are to acknowledge Christ publicly as our Savior. Hence, why I think baptism is a good thing these days (for other reasons as well) because we declare to the world publicly that we accept Jesus. We were never meant to be Christians in secret. Sure, in the beginning, the early Christians had to hide for fear of persecution. But from their outward lives, you could still tell they were Christians for they lived a Godly-life.
That is our call today. We should live enough like Jesus that without having to say we are Christ-followers, people know. Our deeds indeed count in heaven for which we will be rewarded (verses 40-42). Our light should shine to others and we should have no fear of doing so.
Taking up your cross in Jesus’ day meant you were literally carrying a cross to be crucified. Ancient people knew it meant death. Today, the important theme is willing to die when you take up your cross. Die for Him.
Fun Fact: This is the first time Matthew mentions the cross.