Matthew 16: 21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. 24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
“How that he must go” is a message for all seasons. We hear the gospel meaning here when we hear Jesus’ teachings. He is direct, stating plain and simple what salvation means and what action must be taken to be saved. It’s not shrouded. He didn’t give a hard teaching but went straight to the point. He’s talking to his disciples but it is information for us too. If we’re saved, it is by Jesus’ actions.
Jesus acted on what he taught. People who have started false religions can’t back them up by their actions. Jesus did. His actions teach us how to be saved. He spelled out how he must go in order for us to go to heaven. A way was made by Jesus Christ where no way could be made. It’s Jesus plus nothing. It’s not Jesus and what we can do. It’s not Jesus minus something. We have a responsibility with what Jesus did. His action calls for action on our part. We don’t deserve heaven. No matter how low or high an opinion we have of ourselves, Jesus died for sins and suffered regardless of our worth. There is not a good person. Our goodness is by God’s grace and mercy. Our own righteousness won’t get us anywhere. If we get to heaven it will be through the righteousness of Jesus. Paul said I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. It is by his actions and our actions in return that bring salvation to us personally. You can be saved. Nothing has to keep you from the Lord. Paul said we can approach the throne of God boldly and find help in the time of need. Jesus was not forced to do what he did. There was no other way for us to get to heaven, but Jesus made it possible because he wanted to. He loved us to the point of going to great lengths to provide the way for us. How far are you willing to go for him?
Salvation involves Jesus. You are saved by him alone. I’m not part of your salvation. I didn’t save you. I may have witnessed to you or been preaching the day you got saved, but Jesus alone does the saving. How he would go determined how it all went. The same is true for us. It’s important to understand how Jesus had to go for us. What we do with his actions is the invitation of the gospel. Regardless of how incapable we are, we have the ability to call on the name of the Lord.
How would he go? We see some steps that he took in verse 21. First he must go unto Jerusalem. It was the capital center of Israel. This nation held the truth of God. They had sinned and corrupted the oracles of God until it was merely a religion. The rulers, consisting of the Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and High Priests, were in charge but Jesus would be rejected by them. The criminals didn’t bother Jesus. His enemies were the ones in charge.
You have charge of your life—the decisions you’ll make. Jesus must go to the center of your life—your Jerusalem—and you must respond. People go to hell because they reject Christ as Savior. They would rather be in charge of their life than give the control to Jesus. In order to get anywhere we must have transportation. To get to heaven, Jesus is the transportation. He’s pulled up to your curb today. Let him drive you to glory!
Every time you’ve been to church or heard the Word of God you have been close to him. Recognize and receive him. Now is not the time to reject Jesus; it’s time to accept him. One of the saddest things about the United States is that many think they don’t need Jesus. He must be in your Jerusalem. Is he? Open the door and let him in.
How would he go? He must suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes. For every sin there is a punishment. The devil rewards sin for a season. Sin may taste good now, but it will kill you. The Bible says the soul that sinneth, it shall die. Jesus had to suffer for us to be saved. He had never sinned himself, but taking our punishment in our stead, he bore our sins for us. He suffered the hurt that sin brings. That is love!
The first two letters of the word “gospel” are G-O. Go. It was Jesus going to Jerusalem. It was his going to suffer. He stepped in front of us and took our sins. He has already gone for us. We need him every day. It’s time to quit listening to ourselves and listed to Jesus. Today humanity is about self-gratification. The first thing we must do is step aside. I had to quit being Bob and trust the Lord. We have to place ourselves second to him. Who we are naturally by our Adam nature is a sinner. That will take us to hell. That’s why we must be born again. Jesus bore the scars head to toe as he suffered. He took it so that we could have the opportunity to set ourselves aside and trust him. Except we repent—turn from sin—we will not be saved. We can’t serve God and mammon. We can’t keep being a sinner. We must change. We must deny ourselves. We must take up the cross and follow him. It was not Jesus’ cross. It was somebody else’s. I’m that somebody else. You’re that somebody. He made our cross his cross so we wouldn’t have to go to hell. His actions did it.
How did he have to go? He had to be killed. He had to give up his last breath. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Our lives are precious to us. Would you give up your ability to live so another could? Would you give your beating heart to another? No. We wouldn’t. Jesus was willing to be killed to spare us eternal death. Every one of us killed him—our sins killed him. On the cross he cried it is finished and died. We can have a heart transplant because of Jesus. Our heart, once dead, is made alive in Jesus Christ.
I hate Jesus had to go this way, but he did it for us so we wouldn’t have to. I don’t have to worry about dying lost. You don’t either. I don’t have to worry about going to hell. You don’t either. You don’t if you’re saved. Jesus actions on our behalf require an action on our part.
How did he go? He was raised again the third day. That’s why we can come in our sins to him and get answers. He died, but he arose from the dead. His actions on our behalf are still going on as he intercedes with God for us each day.
You dial the phone number in Saltville where I grew up and you’ll get a message that the number is not in service. You call Jesus and he’s ready to answer. He has acted. Now you have to respond. How he must go teaches us how we must go. Deny self. Repent. Accept him into your heart. That’s how we have to go in response to how Jesus went.