I am a Jesus pusher!!! Throughout the ministry of Jesus, He always placed His call to the style of the cross in the context of relationship. A major shift takes place in chapter sixteen of Matthew. The Galilean ministry has drawn to an end. Jesus withdraws from the crowd. He focuses on training His disciples. The heart of this training is to prepare them for the cross. He desperately wants them to join Him in this journey to redeem the world. He begins by quizzing His disciples about Himself. Peter’s great confession is a startling confirmation: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).
While Jesus is greatly pleased with this confession, He has a concern. Do they understand the content of “being the Christ?” Jesus shares with them His first prediction of His death, the cross (Matthew 16:21), creating a major uproar within the group. In the discussion, Jesus says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25). At the core of the suffering involving the cross is relationship. Cross style is about denying self and embracing Jesus. No one takes up a cross without following Jesus. If we lose our lives it will be for His sake. This is not about acts of sacrifice; this is about embracing Jesus. No wonder Jesus considers us blessed when we are persecuted (Matthew 5:10-12). I am a Jesus pusher!!!