“Emmanuel’s Future” – Matthew 16:21-28

December 27th, 2015

Matthew 16:21-28 (See also: Mk 8:31-9:1; Lk 9:21-27)

“Emmanuel’s Future”


Service Orientation:  As 21st Century American Christians, we are simply too ignorant to know that our depravity, sinfulness, and inability to recognize TRUE VALUE are much greater than anything on the planet.  We also fail to see the value of our soul.


Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.— Galatians 2:20


Background Information:

  • (v. 21) In this verse, the English word must falls short of the degree of intensity Jesus used in explaining to His disciples that which absolutely had to happen. He was not telling them of a necessity that was driven by a human agenda; rather, it was a divine necessity.  (R.C. Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary–Matthew, 498)
  • (v. 21) It seems that the disciples were so stricken by Jesus’ prophecy of His death that they did not hear Him foretell His resurrection. This promise of life overcoming death should have brought them such joy as to more than compensate for their sadness over His suffering and death.  However, it seems they never took the promise of His resurrection to heart when He mentioned it and were actually surprised when it happened.  (R.C. Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary–Matthew, 498-499)
  • (v. 22) Had He been a mystical and demanding Lord of the kind the Jews expected the Messiah to be, Peter would never have dared address Him as he did here and on many other occasions. Despite Peter’s arrogant presumption, it is comforting to realize that Jesus was his close friend as well as his Lord.  Peter showed no fear in speaking this rebuke to Jesus, demonstrating the reality of their intimate relationship as men.  (Dr. John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 16-23, 39)
  • (v. 23) Satan prompted Peter (16:23) to talk Jesus out of his upcoming death. In 16:18, Peter is called a “rock,” but in 16:23, he is a “stumbling block.”  These contrasting images show Peter’s vacillating nature.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 326)
  • (v. 28) When Jesus said some would not taste death (die) before seeing the coming of the kingdom, he may have been referring to 1)- Peter, James, and John, who would witness the Transfiguration a few days later; 2)- those who would witness the Resurrection and Ascension; 3)- the Holy Spirit’s coming at Pentecost; and all who would take part in the spread of the church after Pentecost. (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 336)
  • (v. 28) To understand correctly what Jesus meant, it is first of all helpful to know that basileia (kingdom) was often used as a metonym to mean “royal majesty” or “regal splendor”–in much the same way that scepter has long been used figuratively to represent royal power and authority. Used in that way, basileia would refer to a manifestation of Jesus’ kingliness rather than to His literal earthly reign.  His promise could therefore be translated, “until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingly splendor.” (Dr. John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 16-23, 59)
  • (v. 28) It was not uncommon for OT prophecies to combine a prediction of a far distant event with a prediction of one in the near future, with the earlier even prefiguring the latter. Such prophecies would thereby have near as well as distant fulfillments.  The fulfillment of the near prophecy served to verify the reliability of the distant one.  It seems reasonable, therefore, to assume that Jesus verified the reliability of His second coming prophecy by giving a glimpse of His second coming glory to some of the disciples before they would taste death.  In light of that interpretation–and because in all three gospel accounts the promise of seeing His glory is given immediately preceding the account of the transfiguration (see Mk 9:1-8; Lk 9:27-36) and, as mentioned above, basileia can be translated “royal splendor”–it seems that Jesus must here have been referring specifically to His unique and awesome transfiguration before Peter, James, and John only six days later (see 17:1).  Those three disciples were the some among the Twelve who would not die until, in a most miraculous preview, they would see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”  (Dr. John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 16-23, 60)
  • (v. 28) That the coming of the Son of man “in his royal dignity,” a coming whose date is so clearly fixed in the mind of Jesus that he is able to add that some of the men whom he addresses are going to see it before they die, cannot refer to the second coming is clear from 24:36 (cf. Mk 13:32), where Jesus specifically declares that the date of that coming is unknown to him. (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 659)
  • (v. 28) There is little doubt that He was referring to the forthcoming experience of Peter, James, and John on the mount of transfiguration. The connection would be even more clearly seen if the chapter divisions were eliminated.  (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels–Matthew, 354-355)


The questions to be answered are . . . Why is Jesus being such a lousy salesman about entering the Kingdom of God?   What is He trying to do here?


Answer:  Jesus is committed to truth and He doesn’t want you investing in anything in which you have not counted the cost.  Our problem is we are ignorant of the value of things eternal.


The Word for the Day is . . . Value


What is Jesus teaching us in Matthew 16:21-28?:

I-  Jesus emphatically and rebukingly explains that God’s counter-intuitive plan for the way up must be the way down.  (Mt 16:21-24; see also: Ps 34:18; 51:17; 118:22; Isa 53; 66:1-2; Mt 18:4; 23:11; 20:17-19; Lk 9:48; 18:14; 22:26; 24:6-8, 26-27, 44-46; Jn 10:11; Acts 3:18; 4:11-12; Rom 12:1; 1 Cor 1:18-24; 2 Cor 5:21; 8:9;  Phil 2:1-11; 1 Thes 5:10; Heb 2:9-10; 1 Pt 1:3-9; 2:21-24; 4:12-14)


Peter’s rebuke reveals how little he understand the kind of messiahship Jesus has in mind.  “Began” (cf. v.21) suggests that Peter gets only so far before Jesus cuts him off (v.23).  (Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Volume 8, 377)


Peter’s strong will and warm heart linked to his ignorance produce a shocking bit of arrogance.  He confesses that Jesus is the Messiah and then speaks in a way implying that he knows more of God’s will than the Messiah himself.  (Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Volume 8, 377)


He must satisfy the demands of the law, that is, he must pay the penalty for his people’s sin, in perfect obedience to his Father’s will, and in fulfilment of prophecy (20:28; Mk 10:45; Lk 12:50; 13:33; 22:37; 24:26, 27, 44; Jn 1:29; 17:4; II Cor. 5:21; and last but not least Isa 53).  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 653)


For Peter the very idea of messiahship, which he had just now ascribed to Jesus, excluded that of suffering and death, violent death at that!  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 655)


The true interpretation, as I, along with many others, see it, is this, that the Lord recognizes that Satan is using Peter as his agent in an attempt to seduce Jesus to try to obtain the crown without enduring the cross (see on 4:8, 9).  So Jesus, in speaking to Peter, is actually addressing Satan, or if one prefers, is addressing whatever in Peter has been perversely influenced by the prince of evil.  What is needed here, accordingly, is a translation like “Be gone, Satan,” or “Get out of my sight, Satan.”  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 655)


He knows that he is being confronted by the same tempter who at a previous occasion tried to inveigle him with a false promise (4:8, 9).  So with finality he rejects the implied inducement to sin.  By doing so he is himself carrying out the advice he gave to others, namely, not to dilly-dally with sin but to take drastic action against it (5:29, 30).  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 655)


How quickly the “rock” of verses 16-18 had become “a stone of offense.”  By God’s grace he did not remain such but became a most effective preacher of the very cross which he is here trying to dismiss forever from his own and from the Master’s consciousness.  The transforming power of the Holy Spirit in the heart and life of Peter produced such a remarkable result that among all the inspired writers there is none who at a later time more clearly set for the pre-ordained necessity of Christ’s atoning death.  See Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:11, 12; I Pt 1:11; 2:21-24 (cf. Isa 53:4-8).  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 656)


Peter never seems to arrive.  But through the ups and downs we do see him slowly moving up, not perfectly sanctified, but steadily sanctified–ethically, theologically.  God was patient with Peter as he is patient with all of us.  Let that gracious patience encourage you.  Let it encourage you, in Peter’s own words, to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pt 3:18).  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew–All Authority in Heaven and on Earth, 460)


We must try to catch the tone of voice in which Jesus spoke.  He certainly did not say it with a snarl of anger in his voice and a blaze of indignant passion in his eyes.  He said it like a man wounded to the heart, with poignant grief and a kind of shuddering horror.  Why should he react like that?  He did so because in that moment there came back to him with cruel force the temptations which he had faced in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry.  There he had been tempted to take the way of power.  ‘Give them bread, give them material things,’ said the tempter, ‘and they will follow you.’  ‘Give them sensational acts,’ said the tempter, ‘give them wonders, and they will follow you.’  ‘Compromise with the world,’ said the tempter.  ‘Reduce your standards, and they will follow you.’  It was precisely the same temptations with which Peter was confronting Jesus all over again.  (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew Volume Two, 172-173)

Satan is any force which seeks to deflect us from the way of God; Satan is any influence which seeks to make us turn back from the hard way that God has set before us; Satan is any power which seeks to make human desires take the place of the divine imperative.  (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew Volume Two, 173)


“This cross saved and converted the world, drove away error, brought back truth, made earth Heaven, fashioned men into angels.  Because of this cross, the devils are no longer terrible, but contemptible; neither is death, death, but a sleep.”  John Chrysostom  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 329)


Now he begins to teach the disciples openly and repeatedly.  This teaching is so difficult for them to receive that Jesus comes back to it again and again (see Mt 17:22-23; 20:18-19; 26:2, 12, 21, 31-32).  Jesus explains that he will be betrayed, arrested, beaten, tried, and crucified in Jerusalem, but he promises that on the third day he will rise again.  (James Montgomery Boice, An Expositional Commentary–The Gospel of Matthew Volume I, 312)


What is surprising is Peter’s arrogance in taking Jesus aside to rebuke him.  It is an arrogance made even more shocking by his earlier confession of Jesus as the Messiah.  If that meant anything, it meant that Jesus was Peter’s Lord.  But immediately after saying that Jesus was his Lord, Peter speaks as if he knows more about God’s will for the Messiah than the Messiah does.  (James Montgomery Boice, An Expositional Commentary–The Gospel of Matthew Volume I, 312)


One moment Peter is God’s mouthpiece.  The next moment he is a mouthpiece for the devil.  (James Montgomery Boice, An Expositional Commentary–The Gospel of Matthew Volume I, 313)


The error that drew from such a loving Saviour such a stern rebuke to such a true disciple, must have been a mighty error indeed.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries–Matthew, 144)


Four things made that plan necessary.  First was human sin, for which the Messiah had to give His life as the penalty in man’s stead, as “a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28).  Second was the divine requirement that, “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb 9:22).  Third was the divine decree of God’s sovereign foreknowledge (Rom 8:29; Eph 1:4-5), and fourth was the prophetic promise that the Messiah must die (see Ps 16; 22; Isa 53).  God’s plan is not subject to change.  It can only be believed or rejected, never altered.  (Dr. John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 16-23, 37)


Men’s ways never lead to God.  (Dr. John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 16-23, 42)


This passage sets forth the heart of Christian discipleship and it strikes a death blow to the self-centered false gospels that are so popular in contemporary Christianity.  It leaves no room for the gospel of getting, in which God is considered a type of utilitarian genie who jumps to provide a believer’s every whim.  It closes the door to the gospel of health and wealth, which asserts that if a believer is not healthy and prosperous he has simply not exercised his divine rights or else does not have enough faith to claim his blessings.  It undermines the gospel of self-esteem, self-love, and high self-image, which appeals to man’s natural narcissism and prostitutes the spirit of humble brokenness and repentance that marks the gospel of the cross.  (Dr. John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 16-23, 45)


How could Peter presume to know the mind of God so clearly?  How could he make such a monstrously arrogant statement that was so completely wrong?  God would not forbid the cross for He had ordained the cross.  If Jesus did not go to the cross, He would not be able to complete His mission as the Messiah.  If Jesus did not go to the cross, there would be no salvation from sin, including the sin of arrogance Peter was committing.  Peter was setting himself against God’s eternal plan.  (R.C. Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary–Matthew, 499)


He was saying, in essence:  “Get out of My Way!  Don’t stand in front of Me to resist Me!”  Jesus was a Man on a mission and did not want to be hindered.  (R.C. Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary–Matthew, 499)


The main temptation of Satan’s attack on Him during that time was to be a Savior without suffering.  Satan suggested that Jesus should go the triumphal route.  He dared Jesus to turn stones into bread.  He tempted Him to throw Himself down from the temple so angels would catch Him.  He offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world without an ounce of pain if He would only bow down and worship the prince of darkness. Satan was willing to give Jesus anything–as long as He did not take the way of suffering that led to the cross.  Jesus, however, refused all Satan’s offers.  Finally, Satan departed from Him “until an opportune time” (Lk 4:13b).  That time came when Peter was opposing Jesus’ divine mission just as the devil had.  (R.C. Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary–Matthew, 500)


II-  You cannot save your life.  You must lose it for Jesus’ sake to find it.   (Mt 16:25; see also: Mt 10:37-39; 20:28; Mk 8:34-35; Lk 9:23-27; 14:25-27; Jn 12:24-26; Gal 2:20)


“When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die” (Bonhoeffer).  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew–All Authority in Heaven and on Earth, 461)


It is as if Jesus said to Peter:  ‘At the moment you have spoken as Satan would.  But that is not the real Peter speaking.  You can redeem yourself.  Come behind me, and be my follower again, and even now, all will be well.’  The basic difference between Peter and Satan is precisely the fact that Satan would never get behind Jesus.  As long as we are prepared to try and follow, even after we have fallen, there is still for us the hope of glory here and hereafter.  (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew Volume Two, 175)


To deny oneself means in every moment of life to say no to self and yes to God.  To deny oneself means finally, once and for all to dethrone self and to enthrone God.  To deny oneself means to obliterate self as the dominant principle of life, and to make God the ruling principle–more, the ruling passion–of life.  The life of constant self-denial is the life of constant assent to God.  (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew Volume Two, 176)


They must take up a cross.  That is to say, they must take up the burden of sacrifice.  The Christian life is the life of sacrificial service.  Christians may have to abandon personal ambition to serve Christ; it may be that they will discover that the place where they can render the greatest service to Jesus Christ is somewhere where the reward will be small and the prestige non-existent.  They will certainly have to sacrifice time and leisure and pleasure in order to serve God through the service of others.  (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew Volume Two, 176-177)


When we were young, many of us used to play a game called ‘Follow my Leader’.  Everything the leader did, however difficult, and, in the case of the game, however ridiculous, we had to copy.  The Christian life is a constant following of our leader, a constant obedience in thought and word and action to Jesus Christ.  Christians walk in the footsteps of Christ, wherever he may lead.  (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew Volume Two, 177)


To deny oneself means to renounce the old self, the self as it is apart from regenerating grace.  A person who denies himself gives up all reliance on whatever he is by nature, and depends for salvation on God alone.  He no longer seeks to promote his own predominantly selfish interests but has become wrapped up in the cause of promoting the glory of God in his own and in every life, and also in every sphere of endeavor.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 656)


Denying self means subjecting oneself to Christ’s discipline.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 656)


The hardest temptation of all is the one which comes from protecting love.  There are times when fond love seeks to deflect us from the perils of the path of God; but the real love is not the love which holds people at home, but the love which sends them out to obey the commandments of moral courage and conviction which are given not to make life easy, but to make life great.  (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew Volume Two, 173-174)


Origen suggested that Jesus was saying to Peter:  ‘Peter, your place is behind me, not in front of me.  It is your place to follow me in the way I choose, not to try to lead me in the way you would like me to go.’  (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew Volume Two, 174)


For any human king, death would be the end.  Not so for Jesus.  Death would be only the beginning, for on the third day, he would be raised to life.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 329)


In his Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin taught that “the sum of the Christian life” is self-denial.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew–All Authority in Heaven and on Earth, 462)


Self-denial, the self-denial Jesus is talking about here, is not giving up steak sandwiches and chocolate bon bons for Lent.  Rather, it is giving up our own selves as lord.  It is saying, “Jesus is Lord” and living like you mean it.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew–All Authority in Heaven and on Earth, 462)


To deny oneself means to surrender immediate material gratification in order to discover and secure one’s true self and God’s interests.  It is a willingness to let go of selfish desires and earthly security.  This attitude turns self-centeredness to God-centeredness.  “Self” is no longer in charge; God is.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 331)


You die to yourself by putting aside self-righteousness, self-indulgence, and everything that belongs to you–your desires, your ambitions, your thoughts, your dreams, and your possessions.  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition–Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 220)


For the early disciples, the language of taking up your cross would have immediately brought to mind images of crucifixion.  Anyone carrying his cross was a dead man walking.  Your life as you once knew it was over.  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition–Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 220)


To follow Christ is to live in the shadow of the cross.  If we want to join Him in His glory, if we want to participate in His exaltation, first we must join Him in His disgrace, shame, and humiliation.  We must be willing to die.  That is what it means to be a follower of Christ.  (R.C. Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary–Matthew, 500-501)


Simply put, Jesus was saying we cannot save ourselves by our own efforts.  However, if we surrender all to Him, we gain everything.  (R.C. Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary–Matthew, 501)


Jesus seized the moment and immediately went on to teach his disciples that not only did he have to go to the cross but in a sense they had to go to the cross too, dying to themselves and their own plans.  (James Montgomery Boice, An Expositional Commentary–The Gospel of Matthew Volume I, 314)


Some refer to cross-bearing as if it means enduring what is inevitable, but that is not the case at all.  Several kinds of things we cannot avoid:  a physical handicap, a deficient academic background, a drunken husband, a profligate wife.  People sometimes refer to such inevitable limitations as “my cross,” but they are not crosses.  Real crosses involve the will.  They involve saying yes to something difficult for Jesus’ sake.  Cross-bearing involves prayer and Bible study.  These necessary means of grace take time and must be voluntarily chosen and pursued, rather than other pastimes we might humanly prefer.  Cross-bearing involves the items Jesus lists in Matthew 25:  feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, receiving the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, and visiting the one who is in prison (vv. 31-46).  These actions are not easy.  They involve denying one’s self, time, money, and convenience.  At times these actions seem pointless, because the gifts are abused or the one giving them is slighted by the one he helps.  But we are to continue living in this way, because doing so means we are saying yes to Jesus.  We are taking up our crosses in his service.  (James Montgomery Boice, An Expositional Commentary–The Gospel of Matthew Volume I, 315)


Jesus’ words here could be paraphrased, “Let him refuse any association or companionship with himself.”  Self-denial not only characterizes a person when he comes in saving faith to Christ but also as he lives as a faithful disciple of Christ.  (Dr. John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 16-23, 47)


The self of which Jesus is speaking is rather the natural, sinful, rebellious, unredeemed self that is at the center of every fallen person and that can even reclaim temporary control over a Christian.  It is the fleshly body, the “old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit” (Eph 4:22) and is yet to be redeemed in glorification (cf. Rom 8:23).  To deny that self is to confess with Paul, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” (Rom 7:18).  To deny that self is to have the sincere, genuine conviction that one has nothing in his humanness to commend himself before God, nothing worthwhile to offer Him at all.  (Dr. John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 16-23, 47-48)


For a disciple of Christ to take up his cross is for him to be willing to start on a death march.  To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to be willing, in His service, to suffer the indignities, the pain, and even the death of a condemned criminal.  (Dr. John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 16-23, 49)


Every person has a choice.  He can “go for it” now and lose it forever; or he can forsake it now and gain it forever.  (Dr. John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 16-23, 51)


Real discipleship implies real commitment–pledging our whole existence to his service.  If we try to save our physical lives from death, pain, or discomfort, we may risk losing our true eternal lives.  If we protect ourselves from pain, we begin to die spiritually and emotionally.  Our lives turn inward, and we lose our intended purpose.  When we give our lives in service to Christ, however, we discover the real purpose of living.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 333)


III-  Nothing here on earth is as valuable as your soul.  (Mt 16:26; see also: Mt 5:29-30; 18:8-9; Mk 8:36-37; Lk 9:25; Jn 6:39-58; 11:25-26; 1 Cor 15:12-58; 2 Cor 4:7-5:10; Gal 6:7-8; Phil 3:17-21; Col 3:1-10; Heb ch 11; 1 Pt 1:3-9)


The immediate temptation is to look after one’s physical well-being, but when that becomes the dominant goal of existence, true life is forfeited.  It is only by losing life that true life can be gained.  Even if a person were to gain the whole world he or she would still come out the loser if the conquest involved giving up “higher life” (Williams).  (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary–Matthew, 165)


Though Jesus’ statement is ultimately eschatological, there is a profound sense in which self-interest destroys life here and now.  Each decision of life is making us into a certain kind of person, and the opportunity to relive life is not open to us.  Life is lost (or gained) in living.  (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary–Matthew, 165)


There is all the difference in the world between existing and living.  To exist is simply to have the lungs breathing and the heart beating; to live is to be alive in a world where everything is worth while, where there is peace in the soul, joy in the heart and a thrill in every moment.  Jesus here gives us the recipe for life as distinct from existence.  (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew Volume Two, 177-178)


The Greek word for “life” is psuche, referring to the soul, the part of the person that includes the personality with all its dreams, hopes, and goals.  A person who “saves” his or her life in order to satisfy desires and goals apart from God ultimately “loses” life.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 332)


There is nothing on earth, or under the earth, that can make amends to us for the loss of our souls.  There is nothing that money can buy, or people can give, to be named in comparison with our souls.  The world and all that it contains is temporal: it is all fading, perishing and passing away.  The soul is eternal:  that one single word is the key to the whole question.  Let it sink down deeply into our hearts.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries–Matthew, 146)


When we don’t know Christ, we make choices as though this life were all we have.  In reality, this life is just the introduction to eternity.  What we accumulate on earth has no value in purchasing eternal life.  Yet how willing we are to sell our eternal values short for earthly security.  How foolish to seek worldly comfort and wealth and ignore the issue of our soul’s eternal salvation.  How important would a lifetime of pleasure seem when compared to an eternity separated from God and all the blessings of life with him?  Even the highest social or civic honors cannot earn us entrance into heaven.  Evaluate all that happens from an eternal perspective, and you will find your values and decisions changing.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary–Matthew, 334)


Jesus was speaking of ultimate value, eternal value.  Clearly, it is better to choose the way of suffering now if by it we may gain glory for eternity.  To choose gain in this life, only to lose one’s soul–that is, to suffer eternal condemnation–is a poor bargain indeed.  (R.C. Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary–Matthew, 501)


Jesus valued the souls of His people so highly He shed His blood to purchase them.  He places more value on our souls than we ourselves do.  We all need to think very soberly about what we value most and make sure our priorities are in order.  (R.C. Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary–Matthew, 501)


IV-  God rewards TRUE VALUE when Jesus comes.  (Mt 16:27; see also: Ps 62:12; Isa 64:6; Mt 5:12; 6:2-4, 19-21; 10:41; 19:29; 25:31-46; Mk 10:21; 1 Cor 3:11-14; 15:58; 2 Cor 5:10; Jam 1:12; Rv 2:23; 20:13)


He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.  —Jim Elliott


Some people think the idea of rewards is an unworthy motivation.  They think following Christ should be an altruistic and idealistic, but Jesus knows our frailties and does not seem to be ashamed to hold out the promise of rewards.  Deprivations and sorrows here, but rewards in heaven.  Here a cross, but there a crown. (James Montgomery Boice, An Expositional Commentary–The Gospel of Matthew Volume I, 316)


No genuinely righteous works can be manifest in the life of an unbeliever, because he has no indwelling Holy Spirit to produce them and no godly new nature through which the holiness of the Spirit can be expressed.  The life of the believer, on the other hand, is characterized by righteous works, because he has God’s own life and Spirit within him as the source and power for those works.  A person who has no evidence of righteous behavior in his life has no basis for assurance of salvation, no matter how long and vocally he may have professed being a Christian.  (Dr. John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 16-23, 57)


There is deep wisdom in this saying of our Lord’s when viewed in connection with the preceding verses.  He knows the human heart: he knows how soon we are ready to be cast down and, like Israel of old, to be “impatient in the way” (Nm 21:4).  He therefore holds out to us a gracious promise.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries–Matthew, 146)


There will be glory, honor and reward in abundance one day for all who have served and loved Jesus; but it is to be in the dispensation of the second advent, and not of the first.  The bitter must come before the sweet, the cross before the crown.  The first advent is the dispensation of the crucifixion; the second advent is the dispensation of the kingdom.  We must submit to take part with our Lord in his humiliation if we desire to share in his glory.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries–Matthew, 147)


For the unsaved, that day will be one of unrelieved fear as they finally realize that the good works on which they had been relying to make them right with God were nothing more than filthy garments (cf. Isa 64:6) that leave them totally unfit to stand before the righteous King and Judge.  The term Isaiah uses in that passage (usually translated “filthy rags” or “filthy garment”) literally means menstrual cloth, a graphic figure used to represent the best that human goodness can produce.  (Dr. John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Matthew 16-23, 58)


Worship Point:  Worship the God of the Universe Who awakens us out of our ignorance to that which holds TRUE VALUE.


Gospel Application:  Jesus alone knows the price to be paid for our depravity and our sin.  He alone knows the worth of our soul (life).  He alone provides entrance into TRUE VALUE.


Spiritual Challenge: Contemplate Jesus’ teaching and example that the way up is the way down and live!









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