1. When is the last time you remember “putting your foot in your mouth”—either by saying something you wished you could immediately suck back in or by hitting “SEND” too quickly on a text? Describe how you handled the situation. (If the answer is too personal, feel free to edit your response.)



In this passage, Jesus is narrowing the circle of his life and ministry. He knows that his death is coming, so he’s spending time on what’s most important. Just a few verses earlier, Jesus asked his disciples how other people are describing him. Then he turned the focus and asked his disciples to identify who they think he is. Peter immediately jumps and declares, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus applauds his response by announcing that Peter is the rock upon whom Jesus will build his future church. But before Peter can even gloat, the story continues.


God’s Story

Have someone read aloud Matthew 16:21-28.


Finding My Story in God’s Story

  1. In your imagination, listen in from the edge of this group for a moment. Name TWO big ideas that you hear Jesus saying.


  1. Now put yourself into Peter’s sandals. How would you deal with going from “the Rock” to “Satan” in about 10 minutes?
    • Under my breath, I’d say, “Would you make up your mind?”
    • Start explaining myself to Jesus. I always talk when I’m embarrassed.
    • Try to figure out what the rest of the group is thinking about me.
    • Apologize to Jesus, for not understanding what he’s saying.
    • Other __________.


  1. In describing his own death, a cross (for executing criminals) defines how Jesus’ followers must live. What do you think Jesus means when talking of “saving” and “losing” our lives?
    • It’s bigger than I can understand.
    • I think he’s talking about getting my life priorities in line with his.
    • Maybe he’s talking about serving others.
    • I wonder if he means we will die if we follow him?
    • Other __________.


  1. As a great teacher, Jesus asks tough (often rhetorical) questions of his followers. What do you suppose his intent is here? And how would you respond?
    • He’s driving away wannabe followers—who needs this grief?
    • He’s making me count the cost and rethink my commitment to him.
    • He’s making me double down in my commitment to him.
    • He’s confusing me—how does one “gain the world” or “forfeit a soul”?
    • Other __________.


  1. Think about Jesus’ emphasis on allegiance to him, as stated above. Which parts of your life tend to contribute toward “gaining the whole world” and “forfeiting your soul?”
    • Comfort and stuff.
    • Family and friends.
    • Reputation and career.
    • Sports and media.
    • Other __________.


  1. If you could meet Jesus for 30 minutes today, over coffee, how do you think he would ask you to “deny yourself”—to better follow him?


  1. What action do you probably need to take this week, toward “denying yourself,” so you can follow Jesus more closely?


Our Story


  1. Go around the group and let members talk about ONE important feeling or insight you experienced during this session. If someone particularly helped you experience that feeling or gain that insight, thank them by name. (Pass on this question, if nothing comes to mind.)


  1. Go around the group one more time. This time, invite others to help you take your “denying self” action, this week.


  1. Close the group time by giving affirmation blessings to the person on your LEFT. Complete the following sentence: “(Name) I stand with you! Go in God’s strength, to take your next step in following Jesus this week.”