The Challenge of Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:21-27)

Dr Daryl Miller, September 4, 2016
Part of the We Preach Jesus Christ series, preached at a Sunday Evening service

Title: The Challenge of Jesus Christ
Text: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24).
Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:21?–?27
There is no uncertain note in the trumpet sound of the New Testament concerning the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Pilate said, “I find no fault in him” (John 19:6). The Roman centurion said, “Truly this man was the Son of God” (Mark 15:39). Judas Iscariot said, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood” (Matt. 27:4).

Not only does the New Testament declare Christ’s uniqueness, but people of all ages have declared it. Augustine said of Christ that he is “God’s mighty medicine.” Thomas Carlyle called him “a light shining in the darkness.” Will Durant said that Christ is “God’s highest incarnation.” Irvin S. Cobb said that Christ is the “greatest gentleman that ever lived.” Charles H. Spurgeon called Christ “an incomparable being.” And Philip Brooks declared, “In him all broken lines unite.”
People never reach their full potential until they are challenged by Jesus Christ, to whom they can unselfishly give themselves. In the Scripture passage under consideration, Jesus Christ challenges us to discipleship. Let us consider some of the challenges of Jesus Christ.
I. The challenge of the person of Jesus Christ.
John, the beloved apostle, outlines Jesus’ person in the prologue to his gospel.
A. Jesus Christ has eternity of being (1:1?–?2).
B. Jesus Christ is divine (1:1).
C. Jesus Christ is human (1:14).
D. Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things (1:3).
E. Jesus Christ is the Life and Light of human beings (1:4?–?5).
F. Jesus Christ is above others (1:15).
G. Jesus Christ declares God the Father (1:18).
II. The challenge of the example of Jesus Christ.
The world has known many great and moral teachers but none as great as Jesus Christ, for his teachings are superior to those of all other great religious leaders. He is unique because he exemplified perfectly his own teachings. People can find flaws and errors in the greatest of teachers, in the greatest of lives, but when they come to Jesus Christ, they are forced to the conclusion of Pontius Pilate: “I find no fault in this man” (Luke 23:4).
Jesus Christ said to his disciples, “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you” (John 20:21). Jesus was sent into the world to reveal the love of God and to redeem people. In like manner, we are sent into the world to reveal Jesus Christ as Redeemer and to be a redeeming influence on people. He is our Lord and Savior, and he is our example in our mission in life.
III. The challenge of the claims of Jesus Christ.
What are the claims of Jesus Christ? “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). “I am Alpha and Omega” (Rev. 1:8). “I am he that liveth” (Rev. 1:18). “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35). “I am the true vine” (John 15:1). “I am the door” (John 10:9). “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11). “I am the resurrection, and the life” (John 11:25). The claims of Jesus Christ are astounding, and they challenge us.

IV. The challenge of the calls and invitations of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ said to two of the disciples of John the Baptist: “Come and see” (John 1:39). Let us go to God’s Word and see some of the calls of Jesus Christ:
A. He calls sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32; 13:3, 5).
B. He calls us to accept eternal life, abundant life as a gift from God (John 3:16; 10:10; 15:13).
C. He calls us to self-denial and cross bearing (Matt. 16:24).
D. He calls us to learn of him (Matt. 11:28?–?29).
E. He calls us to become fishers of men (Matt. 4:19).
F. He calls us to take the gospel to every creature, to all the world (Matt. 28:18?–?20; Mark 16:15).
G. He calls us to look for his return (Matt. 25:13; Rev. 2:25).
V. The challenge of the cross, the sufferings of Jesus Christ (Luke 9:22).
A. He suffered the loss of friends.
B. He suffered the insults of enemies.
C. He suffered physical abuses.
D. He suffered shame (Gal. 3:13).
E. He suffered for sin on the cross?—?my sins and your sins (Gal. 6:14).
While many are fleeing from Jesus Christ, let us rather turn to him and be challenged by him. While many are giving their lives over to destruction, let us rather turn to him who gives abundant life. While many are following an unending parade of novelties trying to find peace, let us turn to him who is the Prince of Peace.
I am challenged by Jesus Christ!


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