Daily Reading & Prayer

Matthew 16

June 18, 2024

Read: Matthew 16

Matthew 16:24-26 “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?’”


No one wants a hero who loses; every hero in our stories always wins. Superman saves the day, Batman triumphs, Captain America prevails, and Iron Man succeeds. We’re so used to the narrative of powerful victors that Jesus’ path of humility and suffering feels foreign. Like Peter, we want to declare, “You are the Christ!” and then insist, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” when Jesus speaks of suffering. Peter, like many, envisioned Jesus rising to power by overpowering his enemies, but that very mindset made Peter an obstacle to Jesus’ mission.

Jesus called his disciples to prepare to die with him, not by fighting bravely in battle for supremacy but by standing beside him as he was executed (Matthew 16:21). He expected to be slaughtered like a criminal, and anyone who joined him on this journey was effectively walking toward their own execution, carrying their cross. Jesus said, “If anyone wants to become my follower, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).

This call to self-denial and sacrifice looks like a dead-end journey. Jesus wants his followers to weigh the alternatives. Even if they gained all the wealth and power in the world, what would it profit them if they forfeited their soul? The challenge is to consider what is the better investment of their lives. Jesus' vision of restoring God’s reign on earth is far more valuable than any earthly gain.

Living where I do, identifying as a servant of King Jesus doesn't put my life in danger. I don’t expect to carry a cross to my crucifixion. But what will I spend my life on? Promoting the world-transforming news that Jesus is king is what drives me. What motivates you? Wealth? Recognition? Power? Life isn’t a game where the goal is to gain the whole world. Real life is found in surrendering to Jesus, the King who died so that we might live. His kingdom isn’t built by celebrities but by ordinary people like you and me, who have given up other agendas to live for this one true King.


What does it mean to follow a leader who chose apparent powerlessness? Reflect on areas of your life where you might be clinging to worldly definitions of success and power. What is it that motivates you each day?


Lord, reveal the areas in my life where I am clinging to worldly definitions of success and power. Help me to prioritize your kingdom above all else and to find my true life in surrendering to your will. May I be motivated by the desire to promote you and live out your good news to people around me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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