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The Principle of Death and Resurrection ~ Matthew 16.24

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The Principle of Death – The Supreme Paradox


Text: Matthew 16.21-26 ~ “Let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

Introduction: The path of every believer is by the instrument of the cross. Everyone who desires to follow Jesus, all who want to be a Christian must die. In the words of Christ, you must lose your life in order to save it. There is no Christianity without the Cross. There is no Christianity without Dying. I want to speak to you about a principle that the Lord Jesus set forth – The Principle of Death. I am talking about is Dying to self, a complete annihilation of all our will in order to live in the will of God.

I.     He began to show His disciples what He must suffer, die and resurrect.

        “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”


A.    At this moment, the text says, Jesus begins to show the disciples what He must go through. What is He going to go through? Death and Resurrection. It is this that every one who However, I want to show you that this has been His mode of operandi from the very beginning.

1.       Matthew 3.13-15 – To begin His ministry, He submits Himself to baptism. Here is a picture of Death and Resurrection. His entire life is based on this principle of Death and Resurrection. He begins with this figure establishing His ministry on earth and declaring how He will live out His life. His life will be one of Death to self.

2.       The next episode is in the wilderness with the Devil in Matthew 4 where Jesus puts into action the Principle of Death and Resurrection He declared in His baptism. The devil tempts Christ with, “If you are the Son of God…”

a.       You can provide your own food and appease your appetite. Look at His answer – “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”  

The Lord Jesus demonstrates how He will live on this earth – not live unto Himself, but unto God.

B.    It is this Principle of Death that the Lord lived by. John 5.17 Jesus makes a distinction between Him and the Father. “My Father has been working…and I have been working.” But notice the implications here. Jesus does nothing on His own. He even declares this in the 19th verse – “Most assuredly, the Son of Man can do nothing of Himself…” It is not that He had no will or ability, but that He was dead to that. He essentially says, “I live not by My own will, but by the Father’s will. His will is supreme to mine and I refuse My own will for the complete acceptance of the Father’s will. It is this Principle of Death, dying to your own will that Jesus lives by. He reiterates this principle that He lives by in verse 30, “I can of Myself do nothing.” “I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” It is not simply a refusal to live by His will. It is a full recognition that He can do nothing of Himself. I do not even go down that road to seek My will but solely and wholly seek the Father’s will.

C.    It is this mindset and living principle of the Death that Paul speaks of in Philippians 2. Although Jesus is God, He made Himself of no reputation, became a servant, humbled Himself and obeyed the will of the Father, dying.

D.    Notice this is a mindset. What Jesus began to show His disciples was not only the events that were about to transpire but this principle of death by which all His disciples are expected to live by.  

II.    Peter is an Offense.

        “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

A.    This might appear harsh and mean spirited. But what does it really mean? What was the Lord saying? The harsh statement, “Get behind Me, Satan!” seems to be mediated from anger to a declaration of what the Lord begins to show His disciples. Now it comes with great illustration because Peter has now stood in opposition to what Jesus sought to show them.

B.    You are an offense to Me. He is not necessarily saying, “Peter, you are offensive to Me.” What He is saying is that you are as a stumbling block to Me. It is not that Peter is going to frustrate the will of God for Jesus’ life and ministry. It is that if Jesus were to follow Peter’s line of thinking, then it would mean Jesus would stumble, for He would have followed a path and will of another and not the Father. Remember, Jesus did not seek His own will, but the Father’s will.

C.    In addition, Jesus adds something else beneficial to us. He gives the reason for the offense. “For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” “Peter, you are not thinking according to the will of God, but according to the way men think and what is your will for Me and you want Me to approach this matter according to man’s thinking and will.” “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” His thoughts are not our thoughts and our ways are not His ways. “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Peter was not operating in the mind of Christ, but his own thinking. The mind of Christ was solely and wholly to do the will of the Father. He was dead to His own will. Peter was promoting the will of man in opposition to the Father’s will.

III.  Let us Deny ourselves and take up our Cross.


        “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

A.    The Lord sets forth a Principle of not only His own life and ministry but of the life of His disciples. If you are going to be a disciple of Christ, truly a disciple then the Principle of Death must apply to you. This Principle of Death is both unnatural and supernatural. It is unnatural to the natural man. He cannot understand it or know it. It is absolutely against his nature and everything about him. His survival is by his instincts of his affections, his thinking and his self-reliance. He is afraid to lose control of everything and fights to live. If we truly hear what the Lord says in verse 24 we immediately recognize that it is absolutely unattainable for the natural man. The bar is too high. We recoil at such a suggestion. “Certainly, He does not literally think that anyone can do this. This is absurd.” But, the Lord did mean this. He establishes a Principle of Death that not only He followed but that He expects every one of His disciples to follow.

B.    It is the theme of all Paul’s epistles or we might say it is a continuing theme of Scripture. Romans 6.3 & 6. Galatians 2.20. Philippians 3.10. Colossians 3.2-3.

C.    Let us note that this principle is not one of imitation but a following. The call is to “Follow Me.” It is to be in company with. We heard Paul hit on it several times, “Baptized with,” “crucified with Him,” “conformed to His death.” His way which He would not allow Peter to be an offence to is the way, the only way, in which we can go as a Christian is by way of the cross.

D.    There is a paradox to the Principle of Death. Verse 25 “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” The result of dying is life. The way up is down. You must lose in order to gain. We see this paradox in Paul’s statement in Galatians 2 – “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God.” This is the essence of the Christian life – I can do nothing of myself.

E.    The beauty of this Principle of Death is that it is also one of Life. We are not left dead, having followed Christ. But, Christ now lives in us. That is we live, but the life we live Christ lives in us. We live a resurrected life. Philippians 3.10-11

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