The Cross and the Life of Discipleship - Matthew 16:21-28. Rev Lulu Senituli
THE CROSS AND THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP
Rev Lulu Senituli
Jesus said: If anyone wants to become my follower, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
Today we are talking about the cross and the life of discipleship.
We heard from last Sunday in chapter 16 that Jesus and his disciples are at the halfway mark of his journey to Jerusalem. And they are at the District of Caesarea Philippi.
On the way, Jesus asked the ultimate question to his followers. The only significant question in this life is a question of salvation. “But who do you say that I am?”
We know Jesus does not ask. “How do I fit in with your religious ideas and beliefs”, but “who do you say that I am?”
And Peter made the Glorious and Most Blessed confession of Faith. “You are the Messiah the Son of the Living God.”
The confession of faith of Peter is to affirm the very presence of the Holy Trinity the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit. God is the Living God the one who made all things and gives life to all and so we cannot simply agree to disagree or Jesus crucial question on his identity. We cannot simply say as others have done so that he's only a prophet among prophets that he's a religious and moral teacher, a man of ethics and virtues, a miracle worker, a charismatic preacher. It's not okay because it is not who he is. when Jesus says, who do you say that I am he's not inviting us to hold a diversity or personal opinions on who he is for us.
God has sent Jesus the son of the Living God into the world and he's inviting the disciples and us to see in him the being of God. The Declaration of who Jesus is at Caesarea Philippi is a watershed moment in the gospel. It is a dividing point from which things will never be the same. It is in that context we hear Jesus’ invitation.
“If anyone want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Immediately following Peters blessed confession of Faith he receives such a wonderful glorious endorsement from Jesus. “You are Simon son of Jonah for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father in Heaven.”
Almost immediately after correctly confessing who Jesus is, he is rebuked by Jesus for being an obstacle to him. In fact, Jesus refers to him by saying “Satan get behind me for you are a stumbling block to me” On the one hand Peter gets it right, but he gets it very wrong. He's not a perfect disciple but a real disciple.
What he's declared was different from what he understood the Messiah to be. The Bible tells us immediately from Peters confession of Faith from that time. Jesus began to show his disciples that path. He must go on in his suffering and rejection. He must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders, Chief priests and scribes and be killed and the third day be raised again.
He said “God forbid it Lord. This must never happen to you.”
Suffering and Rejection was not in Peters understanding. It is that, that shows us the very way of God through Christ Jesus. This is the manner in which God offers life for all - to reconcile all to God in this path of the Son of God, in his life death and glorious Resurrection - in this path of suffering and rejection. This sums up the whole of the cross.
This is the way of the Son of God. Jesus called us to this life. If anyone is to become my followers, let them deny themselves. Self-denial are not series of isolated acts. It is to die to the self, is to die to the old nature to the old man and to rise to life through Christ. It is to be aware of what God has done in Jesus Christ for us, the cost of the atonement of the Son of God for the world.
All we need is to accept to receive in faith and truth of the great glorious good news of the Lord Jesus Christ, that we are to deny ourselves and pick up the cross and follow Jesus.
The cross and the life of discipleship today is a reality in our church. The gospel is suffering and rejected under a new gospel. A new faith framework of the Uniting Church is the gospel of diversity.
The most significant paragraph of our Uniting Church basis of Union is in paragraph 3 entitled “built upon the one Lord Jesus Christ”. The Uniting Church acknowledges the faith and unity of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church are built on the one Lord Jesus Christ. This is the good news that we are to proclaim - that the church preaches Christ the Risen crucified one and confess him as Lord to the glory of God.
God was reconciling the world to himself. In love for the world, God gave the son to take away the world’s sin. In our Basis of Union Christ rules and renews the church. The Uniting church acknowledges that the church is able to live and endure through the changes of History only because it's Lord comes addresses and deals with people in and through the good news of his completed work.
Christ is present when he's preached among the people for, he's the word of God who acquits the guilty who gives life to the Dead who brings into being what otherwise could not exist. He calls people into the fellowship of his sufferings to be the Disciples of the crucified Lord. In his own strange way Christ constitutes, rules and renews them as his church.
The Uniting Church Assembly in July 2018 passed resolution 64 on a doctrine of the substance of the Christian faith. This new framework is based not on scripture, and not on the truth of this good news, not on the Declaration of Peter of who Jesus Christ is. But rather it is based on religious and ethical diversity. The Assembly resolution 64 believes that it is possible to hold together two mutually exclusive doctrines on marriage and two different gospels.
How are we able to live and work within this framework of this framework of that is brought forth by the Uniting Church with his new gospel?
Orthodox biblical congregations and Ministers are expected to not only proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, but also to present the opposite view that Jesus Christ is not Lord.
We are called to proclaim the good news. Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God. Through his life, his death and glorious resurrection and Ascension, he's promised to return the way he came. Salvation is offered to all by the grace of God, and his atonement on the cross is offered to all to receive in faith and to know that life is offered in and through him.
What is the life of discipleship today? Ministers and congregations are being bullied, ostracized, intimidated, persecuted and punished by using the processes of the church.
The explicit and unambiguous statement of faith grounded and rooted in the authority of the word of God, this is the witness of the Lord who calls us to follow now. We are in a place where we are called to stand firm in that truth. We as a congregation and as followers of Christ, we will not be bullied. We will not bow down to the gospel of diversity for the church. For the church has departed from the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic church and from the Bible and the vision of the Basis of Union.
As followers of Christ, we will stand. Come what may, whatever the cost for his word endures forever and God's truth endures forever. And we pray that God will constantly correct that which is in erroneous in the life of God's people, his church.