Presence (Matthew 17:5-8)

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The Father has said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to   him!” Seeing Peter, James and John fall over at the sound, “Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 

Jesus here models the priesthood of all believers in a most profound way; To be able to accurately reflect the divine character of God Most High, but to do so in a way that is encouraging, comforting and inspiring to those around us.  

Notice that Jesus does not abandon His disciples. Though His Father has spoken, and though He is with Elijah and Moses at the time, He identifies with His disciples when words from Glory are shared. He stays with them and in fact, even draws closer to them – even though they are literally knocked down by the conviction of the words from glory. That is remarkable, for it takes a remarkable amount of spiritual maturity to keep one’s focus on lifting up others when God Himself is esteeming you! 

The next verse notes this even more completely, “When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.”  Jesus chooses to persist with those who are unable to stand in God’s unfiltered presence. 

The ministry of presence is deeply comforting.

Notice too that Jesus touches them. His compassion for those He brought to the Mount of Transfiguration causes Him to reach out and physically encourage them. Even in the Father’s presence, Jesus does not reach out to touch the face of God. Rather, He reaches out to touch the shoulders and take the hands of those who have fallen before God. His touch gives us courage, as holding the hand of someone you love gives you courage when you are hurting. 

Further, Jesus imparts inspiration to those with Him. He says, “Get up”. A simple command that even a child can obey, but also an inspiration. For in His saying so, it is obvious that Jesus believes Peter, James and John can stand before God. In fact, He wants them to. He expects them to. He commands them to. 

Finally, Jesus does what all heavenly beings do when they see frail human flesh bowled over by the glory of heaven. He says, “Don’t be afraid.” He is there. They have no reason to be afraid, for He is for them. As the Word records, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” 

Truly, it is as the Psalmist wrote, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” 

This much we know: Jesus knows our frame. He remembers that we are dust. He is with us, to encourage, to comfort and to inspire us. 

Even when we are flattened by the holiness of the One we follow. 

God will meet you where you are in order to take you where He wants you to go.

Tony Evans

APPLICATION: Thankfulness

How good God is to us, that He does not leave us when we are in need, or in sin, or distracted, nor when we well know He has ‘better things to do’! 

Sharing Glory (Matthew 17:5)

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When God speaks to Peter, James and John at the top of the mount of transfiguration,   He tells them four things; “A voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”” The Father tells them who Jesus is in relationship to Him. He tells them that Jesus is loved of Him. He tells them that He is pleased with all Jesus has done, and finally He tells them that Jesus has something God wants to share with others. 

That exhortation may have originally been given to Peter, James and John, but by the very fact that it was recorded in the Gospel, we can know it was also meant for us. Every Christ-follower is in need of hearing these four things no matter how close they are to Christ (and Peter, James and John were certainly in Jesus’ inner circle), because all four of those things are tied to our Christ-likeness. If we are not like Jesus and becoming more like Jesus, they are in jeopardy. If we are like Jesus and becoming more like Jesus, they are well in hand.

To be in relationship with God, one must be part of God’s family. The Scripture says, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” This is not just the prerequisite of being God’s child. It is the means by which we have Sonship. All who receive Jesus become sons and daughters of the King. At that choice – when we repent and believe on Christ for the salvation of our sins – we literally set aside any prospect of ‘earning’ our way to or back to God. For the prince does not become more valuable to the Kingdom by doing anything, and neither can the princess become more beloved to the Kingdom by gaining a life skill. They are now part of the King’s household, and on that account their value to the Kingdom is already immeasurable. They belong to their father, who is the King. 

So we have a Father-Son relationship with God Most High just as Jesus did. 

Being sons (and daughters) of God, we must know we are loved, for any good parent loves their children. As Romans exhorts us, “If God is for us, who can be against us? […] Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”  So we are loved by the Father just as Jesus was loved by the Father.

Not only are we who have accepted Christ’s sacrifice for us now in relationship with Him and loved by Him, but we are the work of Christ (therefore pleasing to God). Moreover,  we are well able to do the work of Christ on account of His Spirit at work through us. If then we are obedient, we must know that God is & will be pleased with us. In fact, to this point Ephesians says, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. […] For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 

So we have a relationship with Father God as Jesus did, and we are loved as Jesus is, and God is pleased with us as He is pleased with Jesus. These things being known, we must also recognize that God has something to share through us, just as Jesus had a message  to share with us. 

For it is not that we share ourselves, but rather we that we share Christ in us, the hope of glory. In fact, it is this that Jesus commissions us to do. He said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” We share Jesus  – what He said, what He did in and for us and what He is doing today in our world; The whole body of Christ sharing the whole Gospel to the whole world!


Evangelism is not a professional job for a few trained men, but is instead the unrelenting responsibility of every person who belongs to the company of Jesus.

Elton Trueblood

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Who can you share Christ with today? Pray for them and for you and for that opportunity! 

Experiencing Glory (Matthew 17:5-6)

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There are many common themes throughout Scripture, but one of the  easiest ones to  pick up on is the human response to the appearance of heavenly beings. When people see the angelic, they are not just surprised. They are terrified. 

That might be partially explained in that not many are expecting to physically see or experience the angelic and/or divine. Besides – to the unholy, the holy is terrifying all on its own. Holy presence overwhelms sinful flesh. Just as light reveals what is in the dark, holy presence calls to mind one’s unholiness. Yet even those who are expecting the divine are often shaken when He appears. Not only are people scared when they encounter the divine, they often fall down, immobilized by the holiness of the one standing before them.

When Moses was on Mount Sinai, Hebrews tells us, “The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”” That is in spite of the fact that he already had a relationship with God and had just climbed a mountain to meet with Him. In fact, Moses himself testified that the whole time he was on the mountain with God, he was laying prostrate before Him, and when He went back up the mountain after breaking the tablets, he did it again, “Then once again I fell prostrate before the Lord for forty days and forty nights.” 

Moses’ reaction is not unusual. Scripture records that many people fell down at Jesus’ feet. One expects that of the evil. “Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.”” Yet one sees the same with those who are honestly seeking. The woman with the bleeding fell down (Mark 5:33) as did Jarius (Luke 8:41), and even the disciples – though they knew Jesus well – were sometimes terrified of Him. Scripture records, “When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.” 

So the response that Peter, James and John have to the Father’s voice on the mount of transfiguration is not a surprise to the reader of Matthew’s Gospel:  “While he [Peter] was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified.”  

Holiness is to sin as fire is to gasoline; it’s uncontained presence is incompatible. The sight or even sound of it ignites fear of utter destruction. The more that presence is visible and heard, the more fear we will feel. Peter, James and John experience something of that on the Mount of Transfiguration. 

Their unredeemed flesh cannot even stand up when God speaks, because even among the redeemed, the hint that some form of error remains in our fallen frame becomes literally too much to stand.

The remarkable thing about fearing God is that, when you fear God, you fear nothing else; whereas, if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.

Oswald Chambers


Let us approach God Most High with fear and trembling; for He is holy, and we are not. 

Unusual Glory (Matthew 17:1-4)

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Everyone has circumstances, and everyone experiences circumstances. The  question the  believer has is, “Is God speaking through my circumstance at this time, and if so, what is He saying to me?” Those who know Christ know that God speaks to His people (for His sheep hear His voice), and He often uses circumstances to do that. Especially when we are hard of hearing otherwise. Sadly, God’s people often do not give appropriate thought to this matter. When that happens, we miss the whole point of what is happening around us, as Peter did when he, James and John were brought up the mountain by Jesus:

“Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.””

Peter was clearly thinking mostly of his own experience in that circumstance. He wasn’t thinking about what God was doing, or what Christ was experiencing, or about what the rest of the church (those with him – James and John) were experiencing. He was thinking about himself, and about how wonderful it was that he was able to witness and overhear Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. He wanted his experience in the moment to continue. So he asked Jesus if it was ok to put up three tents, so that Moses and Elijah and Jesus might stay awhile longer. That doesn’t sound like evil or bad intention. It surely was not, but it was misguided. We know that because of what happened next.

“While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!””

The Father shows up and in a rather dramatic way speaks to Peter, James and John. He affirms that the voice to prioritize is not Moses’ or Elijah’s, but only Jesus’. Likely this is why what Moses and Elijah said at the time is not written in the Gospel accounts.

One cannot help but notice that Matthew had earlier told us how Peter had expressed that Jesus was the Son of the Living God – and had done so some time prior to this mountaintop experience. So we know that he knew who Jesus really was. Yet in some way Peter also saw Moses and Elijah as peers with Jesus. Most Christians make the same mistake. They assume that what the prophets and the Law say is equal to what Jesus says. But what Jesus says completes the prophets and the Law, not the other way around. Jesus does not negate them nor set them aside, and He certainly does not mean they are now valueless. But He does complete them. He is the fulfillment of them. Therefore, it is the voice of Jesus that we must listen to above all else

Most especially when our circumstances seem quite out of the ordinary. 

God knows exactly what it takes to get our attention, and often it is through highly unusual circumstances that we stand back and take note of what God is doing in our lives

Charles F. Stanley

APPLICATION: Intentionality

What is God saying to you through your circumstances? 

Seeing Glory (Matthew 17:1-3)

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Matthew is telling us his account of an event we know as the Transfiguration.  “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.”

Obviously, James, Peter and John (the disciples who were with Jesus) could not have known what Moses or Elijah looked like – both Biblical figures had been dead for many generations. Yet without introduction, the disciples know who is with Jesus. The visual of both Moses and Elijah standing there with them would’ve recalled to their minds the closing words of the Old Testament; “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel. See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

Not only that, but Moses – more than all the people of the Old Testament – is the embodiment of the written word of God. It was Moses who wrote the Pentateuch, after all. It was Moses who delivered the people of God from the hands of their oppressor (Egypt). It was Moses who ‘baptized’ the people by leading them through the Red Sea to the promised land, and it was Moses who was buried by the hand of God. 

Elijah – more than all the people of the Old Testament – is the embodiment of the prophetic voice of God. It was Elijah who prophesied the drought and who prayed into existence the subsequent rain. It was Elijah who raised the dead. It was Elijah that called the nation back to God and who defeated the prophets of Baal. It was Elijah that called fire down from heaven on the servants of the wicked king, and it was Elijah that was called up to heaven before the eyes of his disciple. 

One can easily see how Jesus is the fulfillment of both the written Word and the spoken Word. Just as He Himself had testified, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Now – at the top of the mountain and in a dramatic visual of that exact fulfillment – both Moses and Elijah appear with the transfigured Jesus. A starker reminder of just who Jesus is could not be imagined, and the event is just getting started!

There are times when even the closest disciple needs to be reminded of the wonder of the written Word of God, the power of the Spoken Word, and the glory of Jesus the Messiah.  


Whether in pre-incarnate theophanies or visions or incarnate revelations, Christ is ever the only visible manifestation of God. Seeing Christ is seeing God, and failing to see Christ renders any attempt to see God in any other way hopeless. True worship is always in terms of the Son.

Michael P.V. Barrett


How can we not fall in awe before Christ and worship Him? 

True Glory (Matthew 17:1-2)

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“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” 

Matthew does not often mention the time between events, so when he does, it is to specifically tie together the previous event and the current one. He mentions the gap of six days now, because Jesus’ last words in the Gospel were, “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” True to form, six days later Peter, James and John (some of the disciples) do see Jesus as He will be in His Kingdom. Well, not quite as He will be, but almost as He will be. The transfiguration was a partial re-glorification of Christ. Until after the resurrection He was not fully glorified as He was when He was with the Father before the creation of the world (see John 17:5). Nevertheless, Jesus was transfigured into a measure of His glory. 

Peter, James and John saw the “Coming soon to everyone on earth!” Jesus, and that happened on the top of a high (the Greek means “very tall”) mountain. 

The splendor that Jesus is transfigured into has many Scriptural parallels. Jesus face “shone like the sun.” Moses’s face was likewise radiant when he came down from his meeting with God on Mount Sinai (see Exodus 34:29). Daniel describes seeing God with similar clothing, “As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool.” The glorified Jesus that John sees in the Revelation also wears white (see Revelation 3:4). 

The transfiguration stands in stark contrast to Jesus’ temptation. Then, “the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.” That was then. Now Jesus is again at the top of a very high mountain. One even wonders if it was the same peak. Except this time, it is Jesus who is shining in heavenly splendor, not the kingdoms of the world. 

The two accounts detail the remarkable difference between what the devil can offer and what God offers. The devil can only offer the glory of the world. Gold, riches, political and military power are his tools of seduction, that we might bow the knee to him. 

The Lord offers a glory that is quite apart from this world. It is the glory of God. It is unimaginable peace, joy and a love that surpasses all understanding, so that the Spirit of God shines out from within. Not just to the point where your face is radiant, but to the point when even your clothing is white! That glory is centered on Christ, and it is not found in the world, but in the Kingdom of God, where the one and only Jesus Christ – the King of Kings – rules!  Amen. 

The Holy Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance; he gives us “glory begun below.

Charles Spurgeon

APPLICATION: Intentionality

From an objective standpoint, what would an onlooker say has been the ‘glory’ of your life so far? 

The Expectant Life (Matthew 16:28)

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As Matthew 16 concludes, the writer records Jesus making an almost offhand comment   as He concludes His teaching to the disciples about the foolishness of chasing worldly wealth, “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 he has done. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”  

No doubt some of the disciples heard this and in their imaginations assumed that He meant some of them would not die before they see Jesus return at the end of time. As with much of the prophetic, it is hard to see exactly how it will be fulfilled when it is first spoken. But the modern reader ought not to make the same mistake. Clearly the disciples all passed into glory long ago, so what Jesus meant is not that. It is something else.

Immediately following this comment to the whole of the disciples, Jesus is transfigured at the top of Mount Hermon in sight of Peter, James and John. Later, Jesus would appear to all but Judas after His death and resurrection. Later still, Jesus would appear to the apostle John on the island of Patmos (after which, John would write The Revelation of Jesus Christ – the last book of the Bible.) 

In all three instances, SOME of those standing there when Jesus made His comment saw Him in His glorified state. They saw the Son of Man, and they saw Him in His Kingdom. Further, Jesus said they would see him ‘coming in his kingdom’. The transliterated original language is “erchomai”, and it means “to travel toward, to approach, to be brought, to happen to”.  In each of those three cases, the disciples saw Jesus as Jesus was to be in His Kingdom. So they literally saw Jesus coming in his Kingdom, just as Jesus said they would.

The really good news of course, is that all of Jesus disciples will eventually see the Son of Man – not so much coming in His kingdom, but actually in his Kingdom. As Hebrews teaches us, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” 

The disciple of Jesus Christ lives a life of expectation. An expectation that we will perceive Christ coming in His Kingdom through the Spirit’s work in and about us during our lifetime. That is the hope of glory. That is the promise fulfilled in part. That is the Christ-life that we can live and must life right here in the flesh. But there is also the expectation that we will see Christ in His Kingdom at the end of our lifetime. That is glory. That is the promise fulfilled in full. That is the Christ-life we will live forever in redeemed bodies – flesh made new and never again subject to decay. 

That is Christ’s Kingdom fully realized, a promise made not to some disciples – but to all. Amen.

We have been chosen by God the Father to be his spiritual children. In Christ, our sins have been forgiven, and we have been given an inheritance that this world knows no way to measure. In the Holy Spirit, we have been sealed in Christ, made secure until our final redemption when we will see the Lord face-to-face.

Max Anders

APPLICATION: Intentionality

What we do for Christ matters forever because it is acknowledged in heaven. What we do for ourselves does not, because it is not. 

The Sold-Out Life (Matthew 16:24-27)

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Jesus is in it for the long haul, and He insists His followers have the same mindset. At the appointed hour, He will return in glory, and when He does, He will give His disciples what they deserve for having a Kingdom mindset instead of an earthly one.  

Matthew writes, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 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 he has done.””

Following Jesus is incompatible with being the boss of your own life. Those who determine to do as they want will find they’ve not only failed to get what they chased after for all those years, but also lost the opportunity to gain what really matters. Jesus is no fan of get rich quick schemes. He is no fan of the self-made man. He is no fan of those who boldly proclaim, “I did it my way.” Doing it our way can only result in loss. 

Each transaction we make – our time for things, our talent for things or even our bodies for things – only results in more things and less of what we were given beyond ourselves. The world’s way is to trade our lives for stuff, and stuff may help you enjoy your life, but it is not the stuff of life. The stuff of life is using our time and talent and ourselves for the glory of God through the betterment of others. That transcends us to make a lasting difference.

Moreover, all things in and of this world are temporary. Not only do moth and rust destroy, but even those things we think are permanent are not. Even gold and silver are perishable, as the Word declares, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

So, it is not up to us to live as we choose, but up to Christ to determine what our assignment is, and up to Christ to determine how we ought to live. For He is the rewarder of our life’s work. Not ourselves, not the world, not our employer and not our government. We have one life, and it has been bought with a very great price. To live in daily reminder of this is to live wisely. The end will come, and when it does, we will be very glad that we abided by Jesus’ exhortation. 

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Amen

Christian allegiance to the personal lordship of Christ is not something that happens on an individual or abstract basis. Rather, we are incorporated into a body of believers, into a group of other persons likewise called by Christ to mutually support and upbuild one another, that our common service to Christ and the world might be stronger and more secure.

Robert Sherman


We demonstrate the Lordship of Christ when we worship, so true discipleship is to worship in all we do, in all we say and in all we even think, taking even every thought captive for Jesus Christ. 

The Examined Life (Matthew 16:26-27)

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To the crowd, Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of  greed; a  man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’  Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” 

To those inside His circle, Jesus issued the same challenge in a much more direct way, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Jesus wants both those who have said and would say yes to following Him to deeply consider the question of Lordship. 

He is saying that the Christ-follower must be mindful of who (or what) they are following. 

Communicating a “yes” to Jesus is critically necessary. But your true intention is betrayed by the revelation of who your lord really is, which is seen via your actions over time. After all, there are many who say yes but don’t really mean it. They claim Jesus for all the wrong reasons. Perhaps they wanted Jesus only out of peer pressure or momentary fascination. Perhaps they only want the benefit of Jesus without any of the responsibility. But what people really intend is lived out, not just verbalized. And living for the world is highly visible. 

Jesus alluded to the same thing in the illustration of the plant choked by weeds in the parable of the sower (Matt 13) and said as much when He declared, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” It is not what we say at one moment that determines our destiny, but the trajectory of our lives. 

That might seem a bit disconcerting to those who have already become Christian, because it raises the question of whether they are saved or not, even after they make their commitment to Christ. Yet one has only to ask if they are “in Christ” or not. If there is no evidence of that that God could see – no use of your time, talent and treasure to convict you of living for and in the Name of God – then are you really in Christ, or are you merely saying you would want to be? 

If there is evidence that God could see (even in a private prayer life), then you are in Christ and therefore you know you are saved. Paul understood this nuance when instructed Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 

It is perseverance in the Name that leads to salvation, because it is by being in the Name that we overcome all things, even death. Amen. 

Christian spirituality means living in the mature wholeness of the gospel. It means taking all the elements of your life—children, spouse, job, weather, possessions, relationships—and experiencing them as an act of faith. God wants all the material of our lives.

Eugene Peterson

APPLICATION: Intentionality

As Paul said, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

The Cruciform Life (Matthew 16:25)

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Jesus said that those who want to come after Him need to deny themselves,  take up  their cross and follow Him. Effectively, to pursue Christ-likeness, we need to live out forgiveness, humility, moderation, self-sacrifice and long-suffering perseverance as we go about His mission. That’s a lot to think about, so Jesus puts it in blunter context that we might have a memory hook to hang it on, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” 

We need to learn that, because our culture does not merely encourage us to live for ourselves – it teaches and incentivizes self-actualization. Self-actualization is a great step beyond self-preservation. Self-preservation has some common sense built into it. It is common sense to avoid danger and to flee from harmful situations. But Jesus isn’t suggesting we eject common sense. In fact, Jesus’ paradoxical mnemonic is more than encouragement to abandon the selfish way of life the world constantly encourages. 

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with exotic vacations, grand houses and super cars and careful planning of retirement for financial stability in later years. But even the most ungodly of people can realize that if your life is tied up with mere things, it is as empty as the day is long. Jesus wants to teach us a deeper truth than how to behave with our wallets. He is giving us an instruction set to avoid living pointlessness and empty lives.

There are more displaced people today then there were alive on the planet in Jesus’ time. Over 70 million people live apart from their homes as refugees from violence, oppression, natural disaster and war. Yet most all of the nations of the world pledge to do all they can to stop those very people from crossing their borders. Perhaps that is because their typical household is a microcosm of the nation’s fear of the foreigner and distrust of the stranger. Yet the poor, widows and orphans in their distress, the sick and the foreigner are the focus of God’s compassion and mercy all through the Scripture – old and new. 

Jesus is saying that we ought to know that saving ourselves from the inconvenience of pouring out resources and effort for the vulnerable quartet (the poor, the fatherless, the sick and the foreigner) will not save us on the day of judgment. 

In our day we’ve progressed past 1960-era young adult hippies ‘finding themselves’ with drugs to children being encouraged to become completely different sexes based entirely on how they feel at the moment. But all self-actualization – whether by recreational drug use or gender re-assignment – will not save your life from being wasted, no matter what age you are when you try. Rather, it will guarantee a lifetime of hardship and an eternity of regret. God did not make mistakes in creating you to live according to His Word for His glory, and He cannot be mocked without consequence. 

To discover the life God would have for us we need to give up the unhealthy focus on self that the world pushes so hard. At the minimum, we need to be willing to lose everything we hold tightly to for His sake. To live the “Christ-life”, we need to live for Jesus, doing as Jesus did, thinking as Jesus did and speaking as Jesus did. 


If we lay claim to special rights as Christians, we have forgotten that we’re supposed to be like Jesus.

Rebecca Van Noord

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Look to the cross. The Christ-life is a cruciform life, not a life of self-actualization.