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Session 16

Who are you putting first in your life?

Read: Matthew 16

It might sound silly, but this children’s poem describes the mind of most humans.

I had a little tea party,

    One afternoon at three;

’Twas very small, three guests in all,

    Just I, myself and me.

Myself ate up the sandwiches,

    While I drank up the tea,

’Twas also I who ate the pie

    And passed the cake to me.

Like a tea party with I, myself, and me, our thought life is all one-sided: “More! Mine! No fair! What about me?”

The Jewish leaders were No. 1 in their own eyes, too. They exalted themselves as the greatest and most holy in the land (Matthew 16:11-12). Moreover, the Jewish leaders hated Jesus because He received the people's devotion, which they desperately desired.

The disciples were no different. They bickered constantly about who would be the greatest in Jesus’s kingdom (Matthew 18:1). Even Peter unintentionally tried to thwart God’s plan, reasoning Jesus could bypass the cross and establish His kingdom right then and there. In Peter’s mind, he could receive his place in the kingdom sooner, and everyone would see how awesome he was (Matthew 16:22-23).

The solution for everyone was the same. Jesus responded, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). It was an invitation to all requiring a decision to either follow Jesus or the Pharisees. Being subjects under Roman authority, the Jews knew the cross would mean pain, humiliation and certain death.

For us, denying ourselves means setting aside the will and rights to our own lives. Then, we submit ourselves completely to Jesus' will. The time for doing whatever we want has ended. The cross was Jesus' test of His obedience to His Father’s will. As Jesus followers, our test is the same. If we will not submit to God’s authority, are we really His disciples?

Reflect:

  • Jesus gave up His life in obedience to His Father in heaven. Are you willing to give everything to follow Jesus?
  • How would you describe your obedience to God today? Are you all in or are you still trying to hang onto your rights?
  • God’s invitation to follow Jesus is open to everyone. As Jesus' ambassador, is there someone in your life you can share His love with today?

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3

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5

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6

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7

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8

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9

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10

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11

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12

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13

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14

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15

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16

Who are you putting first in your life?

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17

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18

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19

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20

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21

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22

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23

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24

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28

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