Mat 16:24-26 In spite of Jesus not fulfilling people’s expectations, what great confession had Peter just made? See Mat 16:16. What had Jesus just begun teaching His disciples must happen to Him as the Messiah? See Mat 16:21. Was this their expectation even though they believed Him to be the Messiah while others had forsaken Him? See Mat 16:22-23. What would their expectations have been for themselves in following Him as the Messiah? Cf. Mat 20:20-21, Mar 9:33-34. What did Jesus say in Mat 16:24 to address their mistaken expectations? Was He addressing only His disciples in this regard? See Mar 8:34.
What does it mean to deny oneself? See Tit 2:12, Heb 11:24 (NASB refused = lit. denied); see also Act 3:13-14, 7:35 where the same root word is translated disown, and cf. 1Co 6:19-20. What does it mean to take up our cross? What does the cross primarily symbolize? See Acts 5:30, 10:39, Phil 2:8. To what things must one die in taking up his cross in order to follow Christ? See Rom 6:2,6,11, 7:4-6, Gal 2:19, 5:24, 6:14, Col 2:20-23, 3:5-9, 1Pe 2:24. Is taking up one’s cross a one-time event? See Luk 9:23.
What is the importance of following Christ in the way of the cross and being crucified with Him? See Mat 16:25, Joh 12:24-26. How are we to understand this paradox? See Rom 6:5-9, 8:13, 1Pe 4:1-2, Rom 6:22-23. What spiritual discipline is intimately related to denying our flesh and dying to our fleshly desires? See Act 13:2, 14:23. What evidence do we have that this spiritual discipline has been largely forgotten and is no longer practiced in our nation? In what way does people’s ability, or inability, to curb their appetites illustrate in a physical sense the truth of Mat 16:25? What might people’s ready willingness to fast for a medical test but not for God indicate about who they more closely follow? Do you think if people fasted more for God they would need less medical tests? Why is it so difficult for people to deny their fleshly appetites, and why has it become so difficult here in America? Think: is suffering in the flesh and dying a pleasant thing? Is it only in regard to food that one may fast and deny one’s fleshly desires? See Mat 26:36-45 and think: how easy is it for us to arise early or stay up late to entertain our flesh, but how hard is it for us to do so to go to church or pray? See also 1Co 7:5, and cf. Isa 58:3-12.
What is the answer to Jesus’ two questions in Mat 16:26? What does Mat 16:26 help us understand Jesus means in Mat 16:25 to save and lose one’s life? Observe that “soul” in Mat 16:26 is the same Greek word as “life” in Mat 16:25. Notice also that the Greek word for “forfeit” in Mat 16:26 (zemioo) has the connotation of a fine, penalty, or punishment; see Pro 17:26, 19:19, 21:11 and 22:3 for the same word in the LXX.
Having denied ourselves and taken up our cross, where are we to follow Jesus? See Mat 16:21, Heb 13:12-13, 1Pe 2:21. In what way is the cross also a symbol of shame and humiliation? See Luk 23:32-33,35-39, Heb 12:1-2. In the eyes of the world, what is the shame or social stigma of following Jesus Christ? See 1Co 1:18,23-24,26-28, 2Ti 1:8,12,16, Heb 11:24-26,37-38, 1Pe 4:16. Why must one be willing to suffer shame and reproach from the world in order to follow Jesus? See Mat 16:27 and the fuller account of Jesus’ words in Mar 8:38 and Luk 9:26. Why should we not be surprised by the need to take up our cross and suffer shame and reproach in order to follow Jesus? See Joh 15:19-20, 2Ti 3:12.
What is the great danger of being ashamed of Jesus and His words in this adulterous and sinful generation? See also Mat 10:33. Is it only with words that one is able to deny Jesus? See Tit 1:16, Jud 1:4. What then is the relationship between denying ourselves and denying Jesus? Is it safe to say that one either denies himself or denies Jesus? See again Mat 16:24. In what ways does one deny Jesus by not denying himself? See Luk 14:26-27, 16:19, Phil 3:18-19. What does this teach us about the seriousness of sins like gluttony, drunkenness, addiction, indulgence, materialism, and the virtue of living a simple life of thrift?
What is the reward for walking in the way of the cross? Luk 24:26, Phil 2:5-11, 1Pe 1:11; Mat 5:10-12, Rom 8:17-18,29-30, 1Pe 4:13-14.