Bible Reference: Matthew 16:24-27

When Jesus gave His famous, and arguably His most challenging, exhortation to His disciples in Matthew 16, verses 24-27, He outlined what it would look like in a person’s life if they chose to follow Him.

One of MWSB’s visiting faculty, Pastor Peter Wetendorf from Conrad, Montana, would refer to this type of person as a true disciple and below he lists eight qualities that Jesus defines during His call in the passage.

Doesn’t live for themselves

The first quality that Jesus mentions is that a true disciple “denies himself” (v. 24). If someone wants to follow Jesus, they must have a willingness to surrender personal hopes, dreams, and desires. You can not follow Christ if you come to Him with your own agenda.

Indulges in sacrificial living

Secondly, Jesus tells us that true disciples “take up their cross” (v. 24). Jesus knew that He had come to eventually take up His own cross in order to save sinners, but He also knew that if someone wanted to follow Him, then they must follow Him into a life of sacrificing their own lives in order to enter into Christ’s life. A true disciple, then, is someone who consistently lives with the mindset that the true life they have in Christ is worth the loss of the earthly life they had without Him.

Sincerely follows Christ

As true disciples answer Jesus’ call to lay themselves and their own lives down, they also must step up and answer the call to pledge their allegiance to Christ—“follow me” (v. 24). Once true disciples have made the decision to surrender themselves and live sacrificially, their hearts are then ready to obediently follow Christ.

Commits to God’s inverted view of life

Anyone who wants to be a true disciple of Jesus must realize that most of His ways and plans for our lives are counterintuitive to how people would naturally live their lives without His intervention. For instance, Jesus says in the text that if you seek self-preservation, you will perish, but if you are willing to surrender your right to self-preserve in light of who Jesus is, then He will be the one to preserve you and give you true life (v. 25). This way of thinking is very inverted to the way we naturally think, so a true disciple must commit himself to believing Jesus’ words to be true.

Invests in things that matter

Every quality Jesus has listed so far has provided a radical calling for people who want to be true disciples, and Jesus does not slow down in verse 26 when He challenges those would-be disciples to consider His claim that there is literally nothing in the world, nor the sum of any or all things in the world, that compares to the value of the salvation of a human soul. True disciples have an ability to discern the difference in value between material possessions and the salvation of human souls and they then invest all that they have accordingly.

Perceives deception as real

Similar to the previous quality, Jesus mentions further in verse 26 that it is possible for people to “give” away (or “forfeit” gaining) salvation for their soul in order to receive something they perceive as greater than salvation. But what can be of more worth than salvation? The true disciple of Jesus Christ realizes that there are forces at work that are trying to deceive them as to what is most valuable in life and, because they are true disciples, they are able to stand strong in the face of deceptive temptations.

Lives in view of Christ’s return

In a world full of brokenness, evil, and suffering, all people, whether they follow Christ or not, are looking for the light of hope to come from somewhere or someone. Those who are not true disciples of Jesus Christ will spend their days searching for hope in many things, even good things at times, but eventually the hopes that all things on earth promise to us fade. The true disciple, however, knows that they have a hope that will prove its power on the day it is revealed—the hope of Christ’s return. True disciples have a quality of hopefulness because they know their Savior is coming back.

Expects to be held accountable

One of the ways people who live under the power of deception justify their life and decisions is by claiming that they will not be held accountable by a moral superior at the end of their life. True disciples of Jesus Christ, however, believe that not only is “the Son of Man is going to come” (v. 27), but when He does he will “repay each person according to what He has done” (v. 27).

Peter Wetendorf

Peter is the Senior Pastor of Conrad Mission Church in Conrad, MT where he has served for over twenty years. He has been an MWSB visiting faculty member for over 15 years. You can listen to his sermons here.