What Does Jesus Expect of Us? - 02 28 2021
Mark 8:27-38 (ESV)
Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ
27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way He asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told Him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And He strictly charged them to tell no one about Him.
Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection
31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And He said this plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But turning and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
34 And calling the crowd to Him with his disciples, He said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel's will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My Words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
Let me ask, what do you think of verse 35?
“For whoever would save his life will lose it. And whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's
will save it.”
This Very MOMENT OF TIME was the ‘Hinge’. It was the ‘Turning Point’ Of What Was Before and of What Was Coming After.
SEE - All that has been said and done Before this Moment, Was ONLY the Opening of the Race!
It was the ONLY the Preliminary Work, The Getting Warmed Up!
ALL OF THIS so far – Was ONLY the Preparation FOR … Peter’s Confession.
“You - Are - the - Christ!”
All that Had Occurred - Up to this point Was – Of - The - Kingdom.
And all that Followed Is – The - Cross.
Prior to this event, the disciples Days Have Been Filled with: Yes – Chaotic Events! And Life was Almost WILD LIKE! As Well As Full of JOYOUS ADVENTURES!
Oh YES - Wonderful Works of God had been performed – The Hungry were fed by the thousands, The Blind had Sight Restored, The Dumb Could Speak.
BUT - Can You Picture It? An Emotional Wave Was Just Everywhere! The Hopeless Had Hope; The Kicked Out of Society Were Accepted; The Lost Were FOUND; The Common, The Unchurched, The Churched, even in the Hierarchy of Jewish Leaders And Even into the Disciples, Everyone Had A Purpose In Jesus and They were All Offered a New Home in Him!
WHO IS THIS MAN?
This Question Kept Growing!
The Sick are Cured! AND Even the Winds as well as the Waves obey Him?
BUT - Isn’t He, JUST a carpenter from Nazareth?
Then - in the Quiet Company of his disciples, that Is WHEN the Issue Became REAL!
The Master ASKED, "Who do You think I am?"
And – You – know IF It Was not for Peter – That Question May Have Gone Unanswered.
But Peter Saved the Moment – AND SAID "You are the Christ"
Now - Just for a moment, let us Consider What this Confession Truly Meant For Them - Back Then Within Their Environment Where the Disciple’s Lived.
There was a TOTAL Mixture of Opinions going on Of What – ‘This Jesus’ Was All About.
With the disciples, there was a GROWTH of Continuance – Of a Deepness – Of A Conviction Within Them.
The Disciples Grew from Being the Typical – Everyday Type of Guys; To Even the Special and Hard to Find - Type of Guys; To the Specific - The Precise Being the Set-Apart From others type of guys!
And all-of-this GROWTH Was the Product of Their Choice of Having this Type of Close-Fellowship with Jesus.
And You Know, This Type of Statement Just Begs to be Asked: “Can We Too Have this type of Change within Our Own Lives?”
And that Answer is – YES! If We Choose it.
Last week – We talked about The Very Beginning of Jesus Ministry.
And at that Time, as we can guess, the disciples Would Have ONLY Seen,
Within Jesus, Of Him Just being like the “Ideal” Type of Man.
He was: A Man who had a Level of Great Humanity. He was a Teacher who had Extraordinary Insights as Well as Having the ability of Giving Great Spiritual Gifts. And He was a Man who had A Type of Personality That Drew People of All Kinds to Him.
But It Did Not Take Long BEFORE Disciple’s Opinions of - Who Jesus Was, Changed.
They began to See that He Possess A Mysterious Relation to the Entire Human Race.
His Love - Concern and Helpfulness, Reached out to Everyone
And His ‘Kingdom Idea’ Told of A ‘New Society’ Which was to Embrace All Humankind.
But there was Even - Much More.
The Longer these Disciples were with Him, The Deeper They Sensed - That in – His-Person, there was an Existence Which was SO Unique and SO FAR BEYOND ALL Ordinary Experiences.
Let me try to Explain it this way.
They Felt that Through This – ‘Unseen Touching’ within their lives Which Came from a Product Through Jesus, That They Knew that they ALL might have as Well said, ‘Just to Know HIM – Is to Know God!’
This is Exactly - What Peter Brought Forward and into Focus when he said, "You are the Christ."
BUT - The Matter of: Who Is He? And Where Do We Go from Here? Is not Over Just Yet!
SEE - IF Jesus is the Christ, The-Promised-Savior of the-Human Race, then – What does this mean for us?
What is to be Expected of Those WHO Are His Closest Companions?
AND TO THAT – What Then - Is Our Task as Being Part of this Community of Christian Believers Today?
Jesus Expects us to see Christianity in the Light of His Person.
For many people today, ‘Religion’ – Means and Is To them Nothing More Than What Can They Get Out of It.
TODAY, there is a ‘Religion of Self-Centeredness’ and it is Being Published from So Many - So-Called Christian Pulpits as well as broadcasted to the Millions via our Televisions and Internet.
Maybe you have witness some of these. As for me, this is very upsetting.
They all Give a Sales Talk About expanding Your Confidence in your own self and for you to Seek Out and to Capture Your Fame Which is OWED to you and to Grab Ahold of Your Fortune as Your Reward and Prize!
And you know, even some of those who claim to be most "orthodox", Yes - Even they err in making the Fruits of Religion Something to Take for One's Own Personal Advantage.
BUT HERE IS THE THING: To TRULY Qualify as a Fellow Traveler with Christ, The Primary Demand from God is to Deny Self.
Remember Last Week Message Question? What is Your Faith Costing YOU? if there is NO COST Then what you have, Is It Really FAITH?
YOU SEE – Right After Peter’s Confession, Jesus said
“And calling the crowd to Him with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone would come after Me,
let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” Mark 8:34
NO ONE - can put ‘Self at the center’ of his or her Religion nor even within their Life and be a Christian! For Christianity can Never Be Separated from Christ Who Was and Is the Founder!
Christianity and Christ - Are IDENTICAL!
Let us take a moment and Just Look at a Few other ‘religions.’ The founders of Confucius, Buddha, And Mohammed, they might be able to say that they point towards the truth, or a Version there of. BUT ONLY JESUS CHRIST, He is the Only One Who Can Declare, "I am the Way, The Truth, And the Life."
SEE – It is Those Who Share in His company And in the Fellowship of His Spirit, They, we are the ones Who discovered, that it is In Him, that is Where the Truth is Alive and when They, or When We Accept This, They, or We Find, that it is Through Him, that is the Only Way - To Live!
Jesus expects us to carry His Type of Lifestyle into Our Own Calling.
One of the Unique Characteristics of Jesus' Lifestyle is the investing of His Life into the training of the 12 disciples. And to this Day, He Continues to do the same within You and Me.
The impact of His Mission Deeply Depends upon them/Us catching His Vision and Igniting within us All a similar Passion.
This was to be The Seed of the Church, such as, Peter Catching the Vision and Confessing Jesus as Lord. Wherever this was done – with sincerity, the Thinking of Yourself is Eliminated and the Lord of LIFE He becomes the focus of Your Commitment and of Your Devotion.
In Jesus’ Day, for Jesus, we see that His Expectations ran directly against the Interest of Self and Against the Power Structures of His Day. And I ask, Is there a Difference within our World Today? This is the main reason which Signed Jesus’ ticket for His eventual doom.
“Deny himself, loses his life for My sake and the Gospel's will save it.”
You know – that sounds tough but let me ask, what do we have here anyway?
The Chief Priests, they were determined upon saving their own Positions and Way of Life.
The Pharisees, they did not care a hoot for the poor and outcast but were concerned with all the legalistic details so that they could save their own hides.
The Zealots, they just wanted to Rule Over the Romans and to return to the ancestral power. So, they rejected any and every notion of a Spiritual Kingdom.
You See - All these Parties along with their Reasons, they were eating at the Very Heart of the nation.
Jesus felt it to be necessary, for the sake of his own people, to live out to the fullest the only lifestyle which could reform and save the human spirit as well As to be an everlasting example before the world.
"He who would save his life shall lose it ... For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul.” v. 36
And this He Still Expects this from everyone, and YES – This Includes You, and me.
Jesus expects us, by sharing In His Life, to reach an understanding of ‘What Our Life Ought to Be.
It was the late William Barclay who wrote, "God gave us life to spend and not to keep."
There are life hoarders whose eyes are always on personal comfort, worldly status, and financial security. These people build-up around themselves these Walls of protection to keep every Challenge and Trouble – OUT!
You know – Sometimes, we Can Get So Close but Still Miss the Boat.
Let me share a moment from my past.
This day was going to be a – Go Shopping Day but we were going to swing through our daughter’s place on our way. There seemed to be a chill in the air so the thought of drinking hot chocolate while we traveled seemed good to me. Cheryl always has our powder goods in big glass chairs. This way they stay dry, keeps bugs out and they look nice as well. So, I heated my water, grabbed the hot chocolate mix, and stirred my delicious drink. But Something Was Wrong! My Hot Chocolate tasted flat, weak, and watery. When we arrived at our daughter’s place, she offered more mix for me. Maybe I did not put in enough. But even that did not help.
See, It was not until we got back home when I realized that instead of putting in the Hot Chocolate Mix, I put in the Nestle Quik Mix instead. So, you see if we do not have our eyesight on God, we can mess it all up.
And that is what is happening to those who Try to Guard their Lives with using Only Their Efforts.
These Types of People Live their Lives Which are FILLED with Stagnant Waters of Inactivity, Sluggishness, And Ultimately – leading to ETERNAL Death. And This Is So Sad - Because they are totally unaware that, despite of their attempts of Keeping and Saving their Lives, in All REALITY, they are losing the very Life which they have.
But IF they were to turn away from their Protective Security Plan and IF They would let their Lives, their Talents, and Their Assets Actually - Let it all loose into, and Maybe – onto the World of human need, God would take over.
And we always talk about HOW God Gives Back in HIS Math, Through God, they in turn, would grow dividends of Self-Fulfillment, Personal Enrichment, and even Inner Satisfaction which no one else can give.
Today, in our world of Science, Space, And Medicine, we have a collected Group of Experts who Have Such A Passion for What They Do that they take Risks, they Work to Exhaustion, and Many Live on the Edge of Burnout, all because – They Understand where They Are Putting Their-Values-In-Life!
All of These Hard-Working Men and Women, they Live a Life of Passion and a Hunger to pioneer the next Miracle Answer which can fight against and destroy Disease, And Poverty, within this universe.
These men and women, Daily - Say "No" To Every Type of Temptation which is Telling them to Just Give It Up, and To Quit.
BUT - Now I Ask You; What of Christianity as Well As of the Servants of its Faith?
Jesus just told us: "He who would save his life shall lose it; and whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it."
Do we have within the world of this Christian Faith, DO We Have the Same Investment In Our Time, Our Talents, And all just Like That Of the Secular Scientists Have?
Is Our Christian Heart –
Is Our Christian Passion – The SAME as What We see within the Analysts? Within the Inventors? And Even within the Researchers?
Jesus Compels us, He Requires us, He Needs us to Gain that sense of purpose which can Only Come through Our Commitment of Actually – ‘BEING’ of what God wants for His world.
We need to learn from Jesus as we see Him Today, ‘Crossing that Center-Line of His Ministry’, leaving the Beginning Behind as We begin to Carry His Mission to Calvary.
T. R. Glover once said, “God could do no better than to be like Christ."
From Christ, we Gain a Clear Perception of the purpose for which we were born.
And, with that, we receive the Vision as Well As the Resources To Fulfill God’s Calling.