Matthew 16:24
Then said Jesus to his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) Then said Jesus unto his disciples.—St. Mark adds that He “called the multitude with the disciples,” and St. Luke’s “he said unto all “implies something of the same kind. The teaching as to the unworldliness of His kingdom which the disciples so much needed was to be generalised in its widest possible extent. Those who were following Him, as many did, in idle wonder, or with the desire of earthly greatness, must do so knowing its conditions.

If any man will come after me.—The “will” is more than a mere auxiliary; “willeth,” “desireth” to come after.

Let him deny himself, and take up his cross.—Our common thoughts of “self-denial,” i.e., the denial to ourselves of some pleasure or profit, fall far short of the meaning of the Greek. The man is to deny his whole self, all his natural motives and impulses, so far as they come into conflict with the claims of Christ. If he does not so deny himself, he is in danger, as Peter was (it is significant that the same word is used in both instances), of denying his Lord. The self-denial here commanded has, accordingly, its highest type and pattern in the act by which the Son of God, in becoming man, “emptied Himself (see Note on Philippians 2:7) of all that constituted, if we may so speak, the “self” of His divine nature. The words “take up his cross,” which the disciples had heard before (see Note on Matthew 10:38), were now clothed with a new and more distinct meaning, by the words that spoke so clearly of the death of which the cross was to be the instrument.

Matthew 16:24. Then said Jesus unto his disciples — In Mark we read, When he had called the people unto him, and his disciples also, he said unto them; and in Luke, He said to them all, If any man will come after me Ει τις θελει, If any man be willing, no one is forced: but if any will be a Christian, it must be on the following terms. Let him deny himself — A rule that can never be too much observed: let him in all things deny his own will, however pleasing, and do the will of God, however painful. And take up his cross — Of the origin and meaning of this phrase, see note on Matthew 10:38. And we may here further learn, that after having undergone many afflictions and trials, the disciples of Christ may still look for more, which, when laid upon them, they must endeavour, by the grace of God, to sustain with equal patience, following their Master in the footsteps of his sufferings. This, indeed, is a very hard and difficult lesson, but at the same time it is absolutely necessary. Because if we grow impatient under sufferings, and endeavour to avoid the crosses which God is pleased to lay upon us, we shall displease God, grieve his Spirit, and bring ourselves under guilt and condemnation. And should we not consider all crosses, all things grievous to flesh and blood, as what they really are, as opportunities of embracing God’s will, at the expense of our own? and consequently as so many steps by which we may advance in holiness? We should make a swift progress in the spiritual life, if we were faithful in this practice. Crosses are so frequent, that whoever makes advantage of them will soon be a great gainer. Great crosses are occasions of great improvement: and the little ones which come daily, and even hourly, make up in number what they want in weight. We may, in these daily and hourly crosses, make effectual oblations of our will to God: which oblations, so frequently repeated, will soon amount to a great sum. Let us remember, then, (what can never be sufficiently inculcated,) that God is the author of all events: that none is so small or inconsiderable as to escape his notice and direction. Every event, therefore, declares to us the will of God, to which, thus declared, we should heartily submit. We should renounce our own to embrace it. We should approve and choose what his choice warrants as best for us. Herein should we exercise ourselves continually; this should be our practice all the day long. We should in humility accept the little crosses that are dispensed to us, as those that best suit our weakness. Let us bear these little things, at least, for God’s sake, and prefer his will to our own in matters of so small importance. And his goodness will accept these mean oblations; for he despiseth not the day of small things.16:24-28 A true disciple of Christ is one that does follow him in duty, and shall follow him to glory. He is one that walks in the same way Christ walked in, is led by his Spirit, and treads in his steps, whithersoever he goes. Let him deny himself. If self-denial be a hard lesson, it is no more than what our Master learned and practised, to redeem us, and to teach us. Let him take up his cross. The cross is here put for every trouble that befalls us. We are apt to think we could bear another's cross better than our own; but that is best which is appointed us, and we ought to make the best of it. We must not by our rashness and folly pull crosses down upon our own heads, but must take them up when they are in our way. If any man will have the name and credit of a disciple, let him follow Christ in the work and duty of a disciple. If all worldly things are worthless when compared with the life of the body, how forcible the same argument with respect to the soul and its state of never-ending happiness or misery! Thousands lose their souls for the most trifling gain, or the most worthless indulgence, nay, often from mere sloth and negligence. Whatever is the object for which men forsake Christ, that is the price at which Satan buys their souls. Yet one soul is worth more than all the world. This is Christ's judgment upon the matter; he knew the price of souls, for he redeemed them; nor would he underrate the world, for he made it. The dying transgressor cannot purchase one hour's respite to seek mercy for his perishing soul. Let us then learn rightly to value our souls, and Christ as the only Saviour of them.This discourse is also recorded in Mark 8:34-38; Mark 9:1; and Luke 9:23-27.

Let him, deny himself - That is, let him surrender to God his will, his affections, his body, and his soul. Let him not seek his own happiness as the supreme object, but be willing to renounce all, and lay down his life also, if required.

Take up his cross - See the notes at Matthew 10:38.

24. Then said Jesus unto his disciples—Mark (Mr 8:34) says, "When He had called the people unto Him, with His disciples also, He said unto them"—turning the rebuke of one into a warning to all.

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Mark hath the same, Mark 8:34, and Luke, Luke 9:23; only Mark saith, when he had called the people unto him with his disciples; Luke saith, he said to them all. He spake it to his disciples, but not privately, but before all the rest of the people, who at that time were present.

If any man will come after me; that is, if any man will be my disciple: so it is expounded by Luke 14:26,27, which is a text much of the same import with this, only what Matthew here calleth a denying of himself, Luke calleth hating. The disciples of others are called the followers of them.

Let him deny himself. To deny ourselves, is to put off our natural affections towards the good things of this life, let them be pleasures, profit, honours, relations, life, or any thing which would keep us from our obedience to the will of God. Thus Christ did: the apostle saith he pleased not himself. I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father which sent me, John 5:30 4:34,

and take up his cross; willingly and cheerfully bear those trials and afflictions which the providence of God brings him under for owning and standing to his profession, all which come under the name of the cross, with respect to Christ’s cross, on which he suffered.

And follow me: in his taking up the cross he shall but do as I shall do, following my example. Or else this may be looked upon as a third term of Christ’s discipleship, viz. yielding a universal obedience to the commandments of Christ, or living up as near as we can to the example of Christ, 1 Peter 1:15. This doctrine our Saviour preacheth to them upon occasion of Peter’s moving him to spare himself, by which he did but indulge his own carnal affection, without respect to the will of God as to what Christ was to suffer for the redemption of mankind. Then said Jesus unto his disciples,.... Knowing that they had all imbibed the same notion of a temporal kingdom, and were in expectation of worldly riches, honour, and pleasure; he took this opportunity of preaching the doctrine of the cross to them, and of letting them know, that they must prepare for persecutions, sufferings, and death; which they must expect to endure, as well as he, if they would be his disciples:

if any man will come after me: that is, be a disciple and follower of him, it being usual for the master to go before, and the disciple to follow after him: now let it be who it will, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, young or old, male or female, that have any inclination and desire, or have took up a resolution in the strength of grace, to be a disciple of Christ,

let him deny himself: let him deny sinful self, ungodliness, and worldly lusts; and part with them, and his former sinful companions, which were as a part of himself: let him deny righteous self, and renounce all his own works of righteousness, in the business of justification and salvation; let him deny himself the pleasures and profits of this world, when in competition with Christ; let him drop and banish all his notions and expectations of an earthly kingdom, and worldly grandeur, and think of nothing but reproach, persecution, and death, for the sake of his Lord and Master: and

take up his cross; cheerfully receive, and patiently bear, every affliction and evil, however shameful and painful it may be, which is appointed for him, and he is called unto; which is his peculiar cross, as every Christian has his own; to which he should quietly submit, and carry, with an entire resignation to the will of God, in imitation of his Lord:

and follow me; in the exercise of grace, as humility, zeal, patience, and self-denial; and in the discharge of every duty, moral, or evangelical; and through sufferings and death, to his kingdom and glory. The allusion is, to Christ's bearing his own cross, and Simeon's carrying it after him, which afterwards came to pass.

{10} Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

(10) No men do more harm to themselves, than they that love themselves more than God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 16:24 f. Comp. Mark 8:34 ff.; Luke 9:23 ff. As I must suffer, so also must all my followers!

ὀπίσω μου ἐλθεῖν] as in Matthew 4:19.

ἑαυτόν] i.e. His own natural self; τὸ ἑαυτοῦ θέλημα τὸ φιλήδονον, τὸ φιλόζωον, Euth. Zigabenus. To that which this θέλημα desires, He says: No!

ἀράτω τ. στ.] let him not shrink from the pain of a violent death such as He Himself will be called upon to endure. Comp. note on Matthew 10:38.

καὶ ἀκολ. μοι] that is, after he has taken up his cross. What goes before indicates the precise kind of following which Jesus requires. John 21:19. According to the context, it is not a question of moral following generally (καὶ πᾶσαν τὴν ἄλλην ἀρετὴν ἐπιδεικνύσθω, Theophylact, comp. Euth. Zigabenus, Chrysostom). But, by way of illustrating the idea of self-denial, Theophylact appropriately refers to the example of Paul, Galatians 2:20.

Matthew 16:25. See note on Matthew 10:30.Matthew 16:24-28. General instruction on the subject of the two interests.24. take up his cross] St Luke adds “daily.” The expression, ch. Matthew 10:38, differs slightly, “he that taketh not his cross,” where see note.

24–28. Self-renouncement required in Christ’s followers. Their Reward. Mark 8:34 to Mark 9:1; Luke 9:23-27Matthew 16:24. Θέλει, κ.τ.λ., wishes, etc.) No one is compelled; but if he wishes to do so, he must submit to the conditions.—ὀπίσω Μου ἐλθεῖν, to come after Me) This denotes the state and profession, as ἀκολουθείτω (let him follow) does the duty, of a disciple.[766]—ἀπαρνησάσθω, let him abnegate, or utterly deny) Weigh well the force of the word in ch. Matthew 26:70. To abnegate is to renounce oneself. Thus, in Titus 2:12, we have the simple word ἀρνεῖσθαι, to deny; in Luke 14:33, ἀποτάσσεσθαι, to set apart from himself—to bid farewell to, or forsake. These expressions are contrasted with ὁμολογία confession, or accordant profession; see Hebrews 10:23.[767]—καὶ ἀκολουθείτω Μοι, and follow Me) that he may be where I am.

[766] “Id denotat statum et professionem; sequatur, officium” For a person may go after or behind another without following in his steps. In the one case, he appears and professes to walk in his steps; in the other, he really does so: the one implies profession—the other involves practice.—(I. B.)

[767] Peter disowns himself, when he suffers himself to do that which he had done in the disowning of Christ. When the human feelings of Peter desire this or that thing, Peter retorts—I do not know Peter any longer; there is no relationship at all between me and him, nor is it evident to me what the man means or intends. Whoever has gained such power against himself, to him the Cross is anything but irksome, and there is nothing sweeter than the following of Christ.—V. g.Verse 24. - St. Mark tells us that Jesus called the multitude unto him together with the disciples, as about to say something of universal application. The connection between this paragraph and what has preceded is well put by St. Chrysostom. Then. "When? when St. Peter said, 'Be it far from thee: this shall not be unto thee,' and was told, 'Get thee behind me, Satan.' For Christ was by no means satisfied with the mere rebuke of Peter, but, willing more abundantly to show both the extravagance of Peter's words and the future benefit of his Passion, he saith, 'Thy word to me is, "Be it far from thee: this shall not be unto thee;" but my word to thee is, "Not only is it hurtful to thee to impede me and to be displeased at my Passion, but it will be impossible for thee even to be saved, unless thou thyself too be continually prepared for death."' Thus, lest they should think his suffering unworthy of him, not by the former words only, but by those that were coming, he teaches them the gain thereof." If any man will (θέλει, wills to) come after me. To come after Christ is to be his follower and disciple, and the Lord here declares what will be the life of such a one (see a parallel passage, Matthew 10:38, 39). Jesus mentions three points which belong to the character of a true disciple. The first is self-denial. Let him deny himself. There is no better test of reality and earnestness in the religious life than this. (See a sermon of Newman's on this subject, vol. 1. serm. 5.) If a man follows Jesus, it must be by his own free will, and he must voluntarily renounce everything that might hinder his discipleship, denying himself even in things lawful that he may approach the likeness of his Master. Take up his cross. This is the second point. St. Luke adds, "daily." He must not only be resigned to bear what is brought upon him - suffering, shame, and death, which he cannot escape, but be eager to endure it, meet it with a solemn joy, be glad that he is counted worthy of it. Follow me. The third point. He must be energetic and active, not passive only and resigned, but with all zeal tracking his Master's footsteps, which lead on the way of sorrows. Here too is comfort; he is not called to a task as yet untried; Christ has gone before, and in his strength he may be strong.
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