Constants of Discipleship - part 3

Yesterday, we looked at how we need to come to Jesus, recognizing our need of rest and taking on his purposes in the establishment of the kingdom of Heaven. Today we will explore how all disciples need to make the Great Confession (Matthew 16:13-26).

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

21 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. 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 23 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.” 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 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? 27 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.

In this passage Matthew focuses on how being a disciple means to confess Jesus, not only as saviour but also as Lord. Mark and Luke, although they contain this story, they do not have such a full account and do not contain all four important Christological titles: Son of Man, Christ, Son of God and Suffering Servant. Additionally they do not explicitly use the word “disciple” as Matthew does here (vs. 25).

I do not want to go into the meaning of all these four titles that Matthew uses but want to briefly focus on the final one which Jesus expands on: the Suffering Servant. Jesus relates His own suffering to the suffering of His followers. If a person wants to be a disciple of this Rabbi, they should not expect honour, fame and power but suffering, pain and death. But paradoxically this is the only way to life.