Bob's Sermon for Sunday, March 25, 2018

 

Please note: Robert’s Sermon series are copyrighted. They may not be reproduced in whole, or in part, without express written permission. A single copy may, however, be downloaded expressly for personal use.

                                  

 

 

“Do you know Jesus’ life-saving technique?”

         

Mark 8: 31-38

 

     (Mark 8: 31)He (Jesus) then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.

     (32) He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. (33) But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ he said. ‘You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’

     (34) Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (35) For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. (36) What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? (37) Or what can anyone give in exchange for his soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him/her when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.’

 

     Are you concerned about tomorrow? Does the future worry you?

 

     The British writer, Samuel Johnson, said: “Depend on it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” If you know your life will end in two weeks, on what would you focus the next 14 days?

·         Would you be anxious about the afterlife?

·         Would you change your behavior?    

Our text tells Jesus’ life-saving technique for today, tomorrow, and in the hereafter.

 

     But I warn you; Jesus’ method shocks most people. It terribly upset the Apostle Peter. It disturbed Peter so much he said nearly unbelievable things to Jesus. The additional things Jesus said to Peter should make us sit up and take notice.

 

     What caused these heated discussions and what did Jesus and Peter say?

 

     Remember, Jesus became a celebrity. His advance man, John the Baptist, helped make Jesus wildly popular. Jesus more than lived up to John’s early billing.

·         He taught like no one else before him;

·         He healed sick people;

·         With few resources, he fed thousands;

·         He made blind folks see;

·         Jesus raised people from the dead.

·         He dumbstruck smug religious gurus.

 

     Several men gave up lucrative professions to follow Jesus. At the time, the tiny country of Israel was ruled by foreigners. Most Jews hoped that this remarkable guy Jesus would free them and become a powerful ruler. They would take their country back and regain the glory their nation once enjoyed. Jesus’ apostles assumed they would be generals, diplomats—and enjoy power positions in the new regime. 

 

     Jesus shattered their ambitious and selfish dreams. He obliterated their world view and exploded their life aspirations. As verse 31 of our text reads: “He (Jesus) then began to teach them that (He) the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.”

 

When Jesus talked about rising from the dead, the Apostles seemed not to hear him. They did pick up on Jesus speaking “plainly about” suffering, rejection, and being killed. The word “plainly” in verse 31 informs us that Jesus spoke boldly and courageously. To most people, suffering, rejection, and death mean failure.

 

     The Apostles, as we do, wanted to be on the successful, winning side. We do not like affiliating with losers—whether ball teams, friends, or churches. That is why “Peter took him (Jesus) aside and began to rebuke him” (verse 32). The word “rebuke” means to command. Can you imagine commanding Jesus? Peter: “Don’t be talking like this Jesus!” We’ll beat these Roman and religious big-wigs. You’re not going to suffer and die!”

 

     The only wise thing Peter did was to take Jesus aside; the others surely read the body language, however, in Peter’s loud voice, and animated gestures. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter” (verse 33). Jesus’ rebuke was not just for Peter. When he spoke, “he turned and looked at his disciples.” The imperfect tense reveals that Jesus continually emphasized his rejection. Jesus wanted all of them to hear him.

    

     Some think that Jesus was always gentle and mild, never harsh, and he never said an unkind word. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. Jesus was not talking to Judas. Jesus directed this severe language at Peter, and he was not joking. 

 

      Does that shock you? If you wonder why he said this, Jesus explained the reason he called Peter Satan: “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” What did Jesus mean? The NT Scholar Donald W. Burdick suggested that Peter’s mind set was running contrary to God’s purposes.[1] 

 

     “God is not controlling your mind on this subject, Pete, the world is,” said Jesus. If we call ourselves, Christ’s people we need to know God’s concerns and purposes. We are not talking some esoteric, super-conscious, mind-set only a few attain. It has nothing to do with IQ, education, race, color, or nationality. Every adult with a mind has this option. The world likes to strut: “Show your stuff!” “If you’ve got it flaunt it!” “I know best; listen to me!” The numbers of “talking heads” are multiplying rapidly while they become noisier and more boastful.

 

     Here’s how the Bible describes godly mindset: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:[2] In verses one through five of Philippians chapter 2, three times Paul advised us to follow Jesus’ mindset. It is the same word found in our Mark text.[3]

 

     When we were kids, our parents taught us these qualities:

·         Do not be selfish and conceited;

·         Do not think only of yourself;

·         Think about others and help them.

“Mindset” means acting and thinking as Jesus did. How did Jesus act and think? The New Testament tells us and shows us. Have you been reading it so you will know? 

 

     Take it from a preacher with many decades of experience: Do not depend on any preacher, priest or church figure to tell you the full Word of God story. The only way to know is to read it yourself and think about its meaning. Recently on the news, a well-known preacher with a large following expressed the view the U.S. government should protect Christians so they can practice their faith. The largest protestant group in the country advocates this opinion.They do it because they never separate the Ten Commandments and Old Testament law from Jesus’ New Testament covenant. 

    

      Peter had a mindset similar to that. “We need power and control so we can do God’s will without government interference or any other hindrances.” That is not the mind of Christ. In our text, Jesus taught the very opposite. Governments and established religions would strongly oppose him, said Jesus. If we have his mindset, world powers and influential religions will combat us.

 

     We follow Jesus; we do not worry about societal or governmental permission or approval. As his disciples, we deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow him. Jesus’ goal was never to change society and/or governments. His mindset was to obey God, and ours should be to become like him: “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (35) For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.’”

 

     Are you following God’s will as Christ modelled or do the world’s views dominate you? The world constantly opposes Christ’s way. The contrast is clear. Note the morals advocated on any network; match them with Romans 1 & 1 Corinthians 6. In fact compare the lifestyles promoted by most major “Christian” religious leaders and what Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6 state.

 

     Do you follow the media’s ethics or God’s? Is your mind on “the concerns of God” or “merely human concerns”? Jesus calls us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow him. We do this regardless of persecution or disapproval. The Greek scholar, Schlier, gives this fuller explanation of “deny”: “I must not confess myself and my own being, nor cling to myself, but abandon myself in a radical renunciation of myself, and not merely of my sins. I must no longer seek to establish my life of myself, but resolutely accept death and allow myself to be established by Christ in discipleship.”[4]

  

     We like to magnify our importance. We treasure pictures that make us look accomplished, professional, astute, smart, sophisticated, wise, and attractive. The Facebook folks make millions accommodating this vanity.

 

      Not long ago while I was reading Mark 3, something caught my eye for the first time. Verses 13-15 describe how Jesus called folks up on a mountainside and appointed the Twelve to be with him, to preach and to cast out demons: Jesus nicknamed the first three Apostles: “Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”).   [5] Peter, James, and John were in Jesus’ inner circle.

 

     They and the rest of the Twelve shared the same tendency. They constantly argued about who was the greatest.[6] They thought more of themselves than they should have (see Romans 12:3). James and John were sons of Zebedee. Zebedee means “gift of God.” The Gospels tell us James and John were ambitious and quick tempered. Those qualities are not the mindset of Christ—not gifts of God (Zebedee).

 

     Jesus gave James and John an Aramaic nickname, Boanerges. Mark says the name means: “sons of thunder.” It could be: “angry shouters.” To keep them humble and remind them of their actions, Jesus gave them their nickname: “sons of thunder,” “angry shouters.” And what about Simon, whom he named Peter? In Hebrew, Simon (Simeon) means “to hear.” In the gospels, Peter was known more for speaking than he was listening. On the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter did a lot of talking. As Peter, James and John were on the mountain, Moses and Elijah appeared and were talking with Jesus.

 

     “Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’  He (Peter) did not know what to say, they were so frightened.” Do you recall what God said from out of the cloud? “Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: ‘This is my Son, whom I love. Listen (hear) to him!’”

 

The Mark 3 and 9 texts and other evidence make me think Jesus nicknamed Simon as Peter because he talked lots and he listened like a rock. As folks used to say, he was “stone deaf.” Theologians have overstated the case for Peter being the rock on which the church is built in Matthew 16:18. The word Peter is “Petros”; the rock on which the church is built is “petra.”[7] Peter’s name appears about 160 times in the New Testament and is always Petros or a form of it. The word rock (petra) appears about 15 times, sometimes applying to Jesus, his tomb, or the rocky soil where seed was sown in Jesus’ Matthew 13 parable. Rock is always petra or a form of it; petros is always Peter’s name.[8] 

 

     Do you recall Jesus’ prediction to Peter after the Apostle declared; “Even if all fall away, I will not.”?[9] Jesus told Peter that before the rooster crowed twice, Peter would deny him three times. The night of Jesus’ betrayal, Peter did a lot of talking and denying that he even knew Christ. When that rooster crowed the next morning, it must have been as if Jesus said to him: “Peter, you talk too much!” We must all stop talking so much, listen to what the Lord tells us in His Word, and follow Jesus where he leads.

 

     Jesus’ mindset also requires humility. (37) Or what can anyone give in exchange for his soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him/her when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.’” Be assured, in the Judgment, God will ask us: “Did you speak to others about my Son and what he did for you or were you ashamed of Him?” 

 

     Jesus mindset requires two other qualities:

A)    We must honor God,

B)     Give thanks to Him:   

 “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”[10]

 

 We do not brag about our church. We thankfully and humbly acknowledge God in Christ before our families, our friends, our associates, and even potential enemies.

 

·         Will you begin faithfully reading God’s Word this week?

·         Will you be thanking God and honoring Him?

·         Will you talk to your friends and loved ones about His Son and invite them to join you in praising God at worship next Sunday?

 

     God bless you and give you courage and strength in Christ to meet whatever happens tomorrow, the next two weeks, and beyond!

 

 


[1] The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, NT ed. Everett F Harrison, Moody Press, Chicago, 1962, p. 1005.

[2] Philippians 2:3-5 NIV

[3] Φρονέω (pronounced phroneo) with accent on the “e”

[4] Heinrich Schlier, TDNT Vol 1, p 471

[5] Mark 3:16, 17 NIV

[6] They even argued this subject at the Last Supper: Luke 22:24-30

[7] Matthew 16: 13-20 “Petros” is masculine and “petra” is either neuter or feminine. In Greek the endings of nouns and adjectives change by gender, number and according to whether they are nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, etc.  

[8] You can verify these facts using Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible or a comparable reference work.     

[9] Mark 14:27-31

[10] Romans 1: 21 NIV

 

Bob Blair

PO Box176

Cleghorn, IA 51014

 

 

 

Back To Home