An introduction to four Bible studies for new or re-committed Christians who want to grow in their relationship with Jesus.
Your Journey to the Cross: Study 3
The previous study clarified that following Jesus not only affects your relationship with God; it also has an impact on your entire network of family, friends, and relationships with others, especially in a community of faith.
Review your last Bible study using the questions below. Then learn more in this study about the core mission of Jesus and the implications for your life.
DEBRIEF & INTERPRET
- How did you feel about fully committing your life to Jesus since the last study? What thoughts about following Jesus came to mind?
- What did you enjoy about your daily spiritual “exercise”? What was challenging? How did you experience God?
- Did you get a chance to try a stretch goal from last week? Which one? If not, what were some barriers?
HEAR THE WORD
Read Matthew 16:21-27.
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
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? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.”
- What surprises you about this story? What do you like about it?
- How does Jesus view his impending death? Why is Peter confused about the role of suffering in Jesus’ life?
- What does Jesus say about suffering and what it means to follow him? What does he promise to those who choose him over gaining the world?
- How do you feel about following Jesus and denying yourself?
- For the rest of your life as a Jesus-follower, you are invited to deny yourself and take up your cross. What does this look like to you? What is good about this?
Lord, please help me to understand what it means to follow you even if I might have to suffer. Show me how to take up your cross, deny myself, and follow you wherever you want me to go.
"Taking up your cross" can be a difficult concept to grasp. We naturally crave immediate gratification and comfort. God’s call on your life includes yielding, serving, loving others, and even giving up your dreams to him. God will give you a new purpose. Your challenge this week is to take a small step toward taking up your cross by being generous in a costly way.
Money is something that has a hold on many people. Pick one of these ways to demonstrate generosity:
- Give your favorite shirt to a friend or charity.
- Give money to a charity you believe in.
- Treat someone to a meal and get to know each other better.
You can help your non-Christian friends take a look at the self-sacrificing love of Jesus for themselves.
Start a Bible discussion with them and ask them to share what they think about Jesus.
Over a meal, tell your friends how you are growing in your faith and invite them to grow with you.
The fourth study explores Your Lifelong Adventure in learning to follow Jesus and how you can invite others to grow spiritually.