May 8, 2023

In 2023, Peachtree Church is reading through the Gospel of Matthew and Paul’s Epistle to the Romans in conjunction with the sermon series New: Rediscovering the Story and Significance of Jesus. Devotionals are sent by email three days each week. Monday’s email includes additional background, history, and cultural information to help us better understand the texts. On Tuesday and Thursday you will receive a devotional based on one portion of the texts for this week.

Text for this week

Introduction to the Texts

Matthew 16 follows the story of Jesus feeding the four thousand in chapter 15. There, Jesus demonstrated his compassion for the crowd, not wanting to send them away hungry. After all, they had been with him for three days. What we find in Matthew 16 was a very different attitude. Jesus used harsh language to criticize the Pharisees and Sadducees. He highlighted their lack of discernment or perception when he said, “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” They were oblivious to the very signs Jesus had performed. They seemed to be missing who Jesus truly was and is.


Peter was no different in that he correctly identified Jesus as the Christ, only to be rebuked by Jesus a few verses later, showing he may not have fully understood what the Christ was meant to do—die on the cross. One thing is clear from this section in Matthew: if anyone is to follow in the ways of Jesus, if they genuinely want to understand who he is and have their lives shaped by him, they must deny themselves, take up their cross, and be willing to die for him and follow.


Dying for Jesus seems a little foreign for those of us living under the safety and protection of democracy. For others, dying for Jesus is a very present reality. That doesn’t mean that dying doesn’t play a role in our lives. It must. We should constantly try to die to ourselves from the world’s compulsions. We should be dying to our pride, our fleshly desires, and the compulsions of running our lives on our terms rather than according to God’s way. We must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily.

For Reflection

Where do you find yourself this day?


Is it time to give up trying your ways and methods and surrender and die to yourself?


Have you asked yourself if you are living a life surrendered to Him? Take time to reflect on your life and spend time journaling.


Lord, help us to die to ourselves so we might make room for a new life in you. Help us die to our hearts' desires and lead us onward in your ways. Amen.

Rev. Cody Jensen
Pastor for Become