Printable PDF: 2-28-2021 Lent 2 Sermon
Pastor Mark R Jacobson ~ Lent 2 Sermon ~ February 28, 2021 ~ Mark 8:31-38
31He 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. 32He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But 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.” 34Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
THE CHRIST NECESSITIES
What would you consider the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities? In years gone by, I think those answers would include a car, cell phone, coffee, and a pool in summertime. In these last 12 months, I think we have learned again about the bare necessities: air to breathe, food to eat, water to drink, some sort of covering from weather elements, and at least some kind of human interaction are the bare necessities of life.
In the Gospel today Jesus introduces his disciples and us to what we might call the Christ necessities. The Christ necessities include everything that is truly necessary for Christ to be Christ and everything that is truly necessary for disciples of Jesus Christ to be disciples of Jesus Christ.
- For Himself
Today’s Gospel presents a major shift in the ministry of our Lord Jesus. From Chapter 1 of the Gospel of Mark through verse 30 of Chapter 8, Jesus had been teaching the wonderful Word of God and had been demonstrating his divine power through mighty miracles. And just a moment before our lesson, Jesus was asking his disciples about his google review. “Who do people say I am?” The disciples told Jesus what was on his Wikipedia page: “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” Those are positive comments, a pretty good review, but not as good as what the Apostle Peter says. Peter said, “You are the Christ!”
Peter was spot on with the identity of Jesus. The wonderful words of Jesus and his mighty miracles worked on Peter. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter knew Jesus was a prophet and more than a prophet, the Christ. Peter was spot on with his identity of Jesus, but Peter’s rebuke of Jesus demonstrates how Peter was spot off with his understanding of the work the Christ would do. Jesus clearly enumerates what the Christ came to do. Did you catch the list of the Christ necessities, the words that came after “must”? #1 Must suffer many things. #2 Must be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the law. #3 Must be killed.
Without these necessities Jesus would not be the Christ. Jesus had to suffer many things. These many sufferings will be spelled out in the coming chapters and will include the sins of his very own disciples, but look at the people Jesus includes here: the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the law. These people hated Jesus. These people also hated each other. They were religious rivals, but these religious rivals would be united in their effort to kill Jesus. And because they didn’t have the political power to kill Jesus, they needed the help of the Roman government. They hated the Roman government. These Jews prayed for the Christ to be like a second David and overthrow the Roman government, but they needed political permission in order to carry out their plan to kill Jesus. For Jesus to be the world’s Christ, it was necessary for the whole world to be in on his death, and that whole world would include Peter and the disciples, and that whole world would also include Pastor Jacobson and the members of Grace.
Are you familiar with that hymn, “Were You There?” “Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they crucified my Lord? OH, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” What would you have done if you were there? What would you have done differently than Peter? Peter, being Peter, spoke up. Peter even drew a sword in an effort to defend his Savior. Would you have died for your Savior, and even if you did, how would that have helped Christ be the Christ? I think Mel Gibson got it right in his movie, The Passion of the Christ. I’m not talking about the gory and gruesome death he depicted on the screen although that too was very moving. No, I think Mel Gibson got it right when it was Mel Gibson’s hands in the movie that drove the spikes in Jesus’ hands. If you were there, if we were all there, we could do nothing better than what we are doing right now. We’re not here to feel sorry for Jesus. We’re not here to wish things would have been different. We are here to listen to Jesus and to thank and praise Jesus that the Christ necessities were perfectly fulfilled as planned. These Christ necessities forgave our sins and opened the doors to heaven for us, and if we are to follow Jesus through those doors, we need to listen carefully to what Jesus teaches next.
- For Disciples
The Christ necessities for disciples: “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciples must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” At this time of year many people talk about denying themselves or giving up something for Lent. Maybe you have done that, but have you ever thought what giving up something FOR LENT really means? The word “Lent” is a shortened word for lengthen. During Lent we lengthen the time we spend with Jesus. So give up whatever you wish, but does your giving up or your denying of self, lengthen your time with Jesus? And is this quality time? Are you taking what Jesus says in his Word to heart? Are you merging your concerns and at times making a U-turn with your concerns so your prayers are flowing with the same traffic and as the concerns of God?
Martin Luther used to advise his students: “God does not want us to search for misfortune and to choose it ourselves. Walk in faith and love. If the cross comes, accept it. If it does not come, do not search for it.” Jesus did not pick out his cross like it was a Christmas tree. Jesus did not seek out his cross, but as Jesus denied himself and followed the holy will of his Heavenly Father, his cross certainly found him. Jesus teaches, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must…take up their cross.
The world puts a cross on us. The world loves evolution, not creation. The world loves many paths to any god you want, not the one way of Jesus to the only true God. The world loves whatever-floats-your-boat morality, not only a man and a woman united in marriage. The fallen world is a cross we must bear or we are not really Jesus’ disciples. The fallen church is a cross we must bear, too. We could talk about the false teachings of the teachers of the law here, but let’s talk about the failings of Peter. Peter was a cross Jesus had to bear. Pastor Jacobson is a cross you have to bear. I will never know you like Jesus knows you. And what you know of me will never measure up to the holiness of Jesus. I am a cross especially to those who have been commanded to honor their father, and I am a cross especially to the one has been commanded to be faithful to me as long as we both shall live. At times, I am a cross to you and so are other Christians. The world can put a cross on you. The church, this church, can put a cross on you. God can put a cross on you, too. Financial hardships and physical pain are not technically crosses because even unbelievers suffer in these ways, but when financial hardships and physical pain start to affect our faith then they, too, become crosses God puts on us for a loving purpose. What positive purpose can all these crosses possibly serve? These crosses of the world can teach us what it means to sing “Take the world, but give me Jesus!” The cross of the church can teach us: It’s not about the man in the pulpit. It’s about the message from God. The cross God puts on us can teach us: It’s not just about the here and now and living a few more years. It’s about keeping our faith and living forever and ever in heaven. Our individual crosses are necessary for us to keep following Jesus.
And to where does this following of Jesus lead us? The ultimate answer to that question of course is heaven, but there is also an immediate answer to that question. Jesus taught, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” As Christians we lose our life before we lose our life when we were baptized. As Christians we lose our life before we lose our life when we repent of our sins. As Christians we lose our life before we lose our life when we believe the gospel of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of ours sins and for the salvation of our souls. As Christians, we get a head start on eternal life when the gospel convinces us to live for Jesus and not for ourselves. That’s how Peter and the Apostles lived after Jesus ascended into heaven. They faced death on a regular basis as Jesus did and yet they continued to live and serve him without ever being afraid. That’s how we can live, too. We don’t have to worry about hitting another milestone birthday or about surviving another health scare or financial hardship. We have the Christ necessities. We have everything we need for the forgiveness of our sins and for the salvation of our souls. And as we grow through our crosses, we give a witness of Christ to this world and to our church. Amen.