Key Verse | Matthew 16:24-26

Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?"

Scripture | Matthew 16

The Pharisees and Sadducees Demand Signs

And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, 1 “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.

The Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees

When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11 How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock 2 I will build my church, and the gates of hell 3 shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed 4 in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! 5 This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance 6 to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life 7 will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”


[1] 16:2 Some manuscripts omit the following words to the end of verse 3
[2] 16:18 The Greek words for Peter and rock sound similar
[3] 16:18 Greek the gates of Hades
[4] 16:19 Or shall have been bound . . . shall have been loosed
[5] 16:22 Or “[May God be] merciful to you, Lord!”
[6] 16:23 Greek stumbling block
[7] 16:25 The same Greek word can mean either soul or life, depending on the context; twice in this verse and twice in verse 26

You've Got to Lose Your Life to Actually Find It

Devo | Matthew 16

We've all heard the saying, "Ignorance is bliss," but in Matthew 16 Jesus makes it abundantly clear that ignoring His plan for our lives in favor of selfish ambition will forfeit...

We've all heard the saying, "Ignorance is bliss," but in Matthew 16 Jesus makes it abundantly clear that ignoring His plan for our lives in favor of selfish ambition will forfeit our souls. On three separate occasions, we see Jesus pointing toward heaven to find real purpose as our human nature is revealed.

Right off the bat, we have the greedy and prideful Pharisees and Sadducees who didn't want to give up their power over the Jews. Instead of listening to the words Jesus spoke, they looked for a sign to bring Him down. Jesus immediately points out their surface-level thinking, saying that "no sign will be given to [them] except the sign of Jonah." He is referring to the sacrifice He will eventually make for us all and the resurrection that will validate it. 

Jesus then warns the disciples of the "leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees," speaking of their teaching. When the disciples think He's talking about a lack of bread, an earthly possession, Jesus is quick to correct and remind them that, while they are with Him, they will never be without.

Finally, after Peter recognizes Jesus as the Messiah, he turns and rebukes Him saying, "Never, Lord" to the idea that Jesus will be killed. In His love, Jesus immediately shows Peter the truth. 

Two thousand years later, I can still tend to be a Pharisee, stuck in a selfish mindset and oblivious to the Lord's teaching. Even when I recognize God's authority and domain in my life as Peter did, I can still be focused on myself and what I want, blinding me to His purpose in my life. Pride and selfish ambition can often distract me and keep me swimming in the shallow end, even as Jesus consistently challenges me to go deeper.

The answer: Place your trust in Jesus; He can see what we cannot, and His plan is undeniably better (Hebrews 8:6). Your brokenness proves over and over that you cannot navigate this world alone. It's somewhat counterintuitive, but when you lose your life for Jesus' sake then you will undoubtedly find it.

Discussion Questions

1. Aside from God, think of a person, place, thing, or idea that you've been fixated on and spent time pursuing this week. Do you feel that you found true fulfillment during that time? Is it possible you missed an opportunity to be God's disciple? Now think of how you could use that same situation and/or period of time to glorify God. How does that change things? Are the two ever mutually exclusive? (Matthew 6:19-21)

2. How does denying selfish ambitions bring you closer to God and allow you to be more of a blessing to others? (Philippians 2:3)

3. Do you ever question whether God's plan is right for you? Knowing the truth of Isaiah 55:8-9, what can you do in this season while your circumstances are being molded to fulfill your purpose in Him? (Romans 5:1-5)

Meet Matthew Gregory

Hi, JTJ family! My name is Matt. Growing up, I never knew the true love of God. After spending years apart from Him, living a prideful existence, and trying to find life in the things of this world, I reached the depths of emptiness and desperation. By His grace, I found a loving and enduring relationship with the Lord when I didn't deserve it. He renews my soul daily as I actively learn more about His nature. I am now a leader at Watermark's Equipped Disciple ministry and wake up every morning thankful for my new life in Him.

11 Comments available

Michael Scaman 7 months ago

Jesus previously spoke of Himself somehow being like ‘the sign of Jonah’ in Matthew 12 and now in Matthew 16

In between was a lot including the death of John the Baptist which would make Jesus rising on the 3rd day all the more significant.

Jesus calling Simon son of Jonah may have been literally true he was son of someone named Jonah but also a reminder he is glimpsing truth by faith.

Michael Scaman 7 months ago

Jesus first renames Simon as Peter as he glimpsed a bedrock truth of the gospel.

Jesus then renames him briefly as Satan, opposing God’s will, Peter still a work in progress.

As Jesus reveals He will suffer and die, the apostles are starting a running argument discussion as to who of them is the greatest. They are works in progress.

Hugh Stephenson 7 months ago


GM Matt. Awesome devo and for linking your title and Key Verse.

Years ago at a re:gen leaders training we were counseled to start each day with that key verse. Additionally, it was suggested we do so, “from a position of humility”. Consciously getting on my knees as I recite that verse helps a great deal in centering me as I recite that verse/prayer.

Q2 – Of the many things I have learned the hard way – among the most valuable and most difficult is denying self and serving others. The desire to do so is virtually never there. Yet virtually every single time I am joyful after doing so.

So…Matthew 16.

Starting in 2013 I began a deep dive into understanding God’s nature and character through studying the Bible. As part of that journey, I was encouraged to adopt one or more life verses.

Hugh Stephenson 7 months ago


I started with Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust…”. Without trust the rest is impossible.

Then Philippians 4:6-7. “Do not be anxious…” Anxiety and fear had haunted me continually since I was a boy.

Ah yes, then, Matthew 11:28-30. “Come to me… I will give you rest…”. I had made my journey so hard and difficult that the idea of “Come … and I will give you rest.” Was indescribably appealing.

Then, Jesus in the Garden - Luke 22:42, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me…”


The entire past, present and future hung in the air for that moment.

Then, “Nevertheless…”

This verse haunted me.

I came to understand that it was because Jesus knew His Father so well that he did not want to be separated from Him for even an instant. He was severely tempted to completely forgo the cross and the salvation of uncountable billions.

Hugh Stephenson 7 months ago



Is there a more powerful moment and word in all of history?

Yet, after many years and many verses I have settled on Matthew 16:15 as my life verse.


Because unless I know who Jesus is absolutely nothing else is possible.

No trust.

No relief from fear and anxiety.

No rest.

No obedience.

No salvation.

And the threat of the gates of Hell will truly be a reality.

Links for great edification on the gates of Hell–2

Jermaine Harrison 7 months ago

Good word Matthew (and Matthew)! Like Peter in verse 22, too often my top priority is “How will this situation work out for my good, comfort, or ease?” When I should rather be considering how God might be at work for His glory, His purposes, and good that I might not readily see.

Greg Jones 7 months ago


His shipmates make vows and sacrifices to Jonah’s God in a calm darkness Jonah1:15-16.

A light shines on Nineveh, Jonah builds a shaded shelter. Nineveh’s light was a discomfort for Jonah, Jonah4:5.

A day storm comes, Jonah speaks Jonah4:8,

Another thing concerning temptation I notice is how Jesus taught us to pray.

His prayer was

“lead us not into temptation”Matthew6:13a.

“So he left them and departed” Matthew16:4b.

He leaves, his disciples follow him.

“but deliver us from the evil one.”Matthew6:13b.

“But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!”Matthew16:28

Jonah looks upon Nineveh, middle of a day storm, and declares it was better for him to die. Jesus is with Peter bar Jonah, (in a calm darkness) declaring it is better for himself to die.

Jesus wants his disciples to understand him better later.

Greg Jones 7 months ago


In the wilderness the first temptation was to produce a sign.

“if you are…turn stones to bread.”

Jesus’ rebuttal,

“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew4:3-4.

I notice some things in the verses1-4. One the temptation to show a sign. Two how Jesus describes the S&P’s ability to read a sign. They read a red sky in the evening as calm in the darkness, and they read a red sky in the morning as a storm in the light.

In the first, the sky is red comforting but calm darkness is overcoming light. In the other, light will overcome darkness but the predictable red sky storm is feared.

This generation will only receive the sign of Jonah.

Jesus wants the Pharisees to understand him better later.

A storm at night changes the direction of Jonah, Jonah1:4.

Sue Bohlin 7 months ago

Thanks, Matthew!

I am enjoying the NASB this year, and I especially appreciate the accuracy in the verb tenses of v. 19, “whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” This means that things happen in heaven first and then are reflected on earth. Today for the first time, I linked this verse to the line from the Lord’s prayer, “on earth as it in heaven.”

In a coffee shop this weekend, I saw a sticker on a girl’s laptop that said, “In Denton as it is in heaven.” I had to ask her about it, because my son’s church has on their website home page, “In San Francisco as it is in heaven.”

Turns out that’s a meme of its own.

So my response: “Lord, in my life as it is in heaven.”

Michael Scaman 6 months ago

The Pharisees asked for a sign from heaven. That’s problematic because the law says not to believe someone who misleads you away form God even if they show a sign from heaven.

The reality if John did no miracles at all and Jesus considered John the greatest prophet till then.

Signs aren’t everything and maybe most meaningful combined with other thing like consistent with the work and fruit.

Linda Green 6 months ago

Thanks for encouraging us today! Yay for Equipped Disciple- your key verse is in one of the later studies. Was struck by this reference to the cross that Jesus makes in Matthew 16: 24-25. Am thinking the disciples were puzzled by Jesus’ reference to the cross, until they looked back after the Resurrection!

Love Toby Mac’s song about Matthew 16:26 “Lose my soul”

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