The Message No One Wanted To Hear

Scripture: Matthew 16:21-26

From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead. 22 But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” 23 Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
 

INTRODUCTION

I want to preface this message with a couple of announcements [1] This is a message that no one is going to like. It will not be pleasant to the hearing or the heart. [2] This message contains the hard gospel: the gospel Jesus preached, Paul preached but few preach today. You will never hear a sermon like this in a seeker church. This message is not designed for consumer Christianity. The Disciple did not like this message and you are not going to like it either. God will hold you accountable if you refuse to listen simply because the subject matter is unpleasant.

 

I. THE REVELATION…

From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead. [verse 21]

Jesus took His disciples on a retreat to Caesarea Philippi so He could be alone with them. At this time in history, Caesarea Philippi was a pagan metropolis. It was a mega-center for pagan temples and had a strong Gentile influence. The Pharisees and Scribes would not dare go to such a place. Here Jesus gave His disciples the hard cold facts and He talks to them plainly so all can understand. Jesus is going to Jerusalem, He will be arrested, tried, convicted and executed. This was not what His disciples wanted to hear. Instead of getting revived, they got depressed. Peter, the leader, took it upon himself to correct Jesus…“Heaven forbid, Lord, this will never happen to you!”  So after making the GREAT CONFESSION in verse 16…“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Peter makes the GREAT GAFFE in verse 22…“Heaven forbid, Lord, this will never happen to you!” In a matter of seconds, Peter goes from inspiration to insubordination. Peter, being a Jew, believed strongly in the sovereignty of God and he had no conception of a God who submits to man. Peter had just confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God and Jesus had affirmed Peter to be correct. Peters view of God was that He transcends human suffering. In his mind, it was unthinkable that Jesus being God could suffer and it was certainly unacceptable to Peter and the twelve that Jesus would submit to a cross. So one minute Peter is a rock you can stand on and the next, he is a rock that you can stumble on. One minute he is blessed and praised by Jesus and the next he is sternly rebuked. One minute is a helper and then next, he is a hindrance.  A day that began so brightly has suddenly come under the dark shadow of a cross. The disciples are not thrilled with Jesus declaration that a cross awaits Him in Jerusalem, they are chilled. This cannot be: it is surreal.

 

II. THE REPRIMAND…

 But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”  [verse 23]

Just a word of advice: it is not a good idea to reprimand Jesus but Peter was simply following his human nature; he was thinking  like a man and unfortunately in this instance, like the devil. We all want to live pain-free lives. We all shun suffering and we certainly do whatever it takes to avoid a cross. Instinctively, we look for the easy way out and the safe way.  Up to this point, the disciples are under the impression they are following Israel’s next king. In one paragraph, Jesus destroyed this myth.

We can see here in this story the infinite gap between the way men think and the way God thinks. Peter was thinking about SUCCESS but Jesus was thinking about SUFFERING. Suffering always proceeds glory in God’s order. Peter was thinking about LIVING but Jesus was thinking about DYING. Peter was thinking about a CROWN but Jesus was thinking about a CROSS.

To bring this home, think of it like this…Jesus could have said to Peter, “You are not thinking like Me” and that was true. How many times a day, would Jesus reprimand us?…Jack, you are not thinking the way I think. Wow, the very thought convicts me. Was Peter wrong to correct Jesus? Yes! Was He wrong in his thinking? Yes but so are we. Jesus corrected Peter once, how many times would He correct us?

III. THE REALITY

If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? [v.24-26]

This painful revelation that Jesus would suffer and die was a downer. Jesus could speak history into being just as He spoke creation into being and the disciples knew His predictions were sure to happen. It was indeed a chilling moment: the kind we do not like. This is the setting for Jesus presentation of the real gospel, the one we seldom hear preached because it is not popular. Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it.” In other words–we must say “No” to our imperious sinful ego–which not only puts itself first but makes safety the primary issue. We must be willing to suffer the same indignities and humiliation that a condemned man has to suffer and this is exactly what none of the twelve have any desire to do. Jesus presents this in the form of an invitation…If anyone wants to be My follower…there is no force applied, no coercion.

Peter had no problem with Jesus being a King and no problem with Him being God. He was more than glad to confess this truth but the cross thing threw him for a loop. [1] First of all, Peter was repulsed at the Idea of Jesus bearing a cross and before he could adjust his thinking to the concept of a Suffering Messiah, Jesus hit him with a second shock wave….If you follow me, you will have your cross, your own personal cross…which in time, Peter does embrace. Peter knew what a cross meant: it meant death, slow, painful, agonizing death. The cross is a death by process where as beheading or hanging is instantaneous. Death on the cross is a long and lingering process. Jesus was simply driving the first nail. It would take the disciples years to come around to Jesus way of thinking but they would get there. So…

  1. There is a self to deny
  2. There is a cross to bear
  3. There is a life to lose

…and all three are very difficult for humans. We are selfish, we shun pain and suffering and we cling to life. After Jesus was finished with this challenge, I imagine the disciples were thinking, “What else will He come up with?” This is the gospel that will not go well in the seeker churches; actually, it is unappreciated in all churches.

IV. THE REAL LIFE IN CHRIST

If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.

[verse 25]

Paul gives us some commentary on this in Colossians…. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory. [Colossians 3:3-4] But here me, the truth is–when the old sinful self is repudiated, put down firmly, great though the agony of soul may be, man’s true self, the “Real Life” that Paul mentions in Colossians 3:3 will emerge and for such a discovery, no price is too high. Jesus said, it is a gain that is greater than the whole world. It is the priceless pearl. The real life, the true you cannot be discovered unless the old is laid down. If we cling to the old, we will surely miss the new, just as the Jews clung to Judaism and missed Christ.  No one, upon discovering this life will have any desire to go back to the old. I have had the privilege of talking to several Messianic Jews and none them have ever indicated to me that they want to go back to Judaism.

CONCLUSION

  •  Christ was real…can we agree on this? He was true blue through and through. He could think out loud and not be embarrassed. There has never been a man more real than Jesus. He was perfectly real. No tinsel, no pretense, no guile, no deceit: Jesus was pure in mind and body.
  • Do you think it is His will for you and I to be real? I can imagine that we agree on this as well: He wants us to be real and deep down we want to be real. Here is the problem, the real YOU is hidden like a treasure. The real you is hidden in Christ underneath Adam. Eventually, the real you will be revealed. Jesus came to save us from hell and our sins but He also came to help us discover and uncover the real true self, not the selfish self but the noble self.
  • Do you dream of being selfish or noble? All this is good stuff and pleasant to the ear but the truth is, the real you can not arise, come out until there is a death to the old you. You cannot have a resurrection without a death. You cannot wake up until you go to sleep. This is the unpleasant part that the disciples did not want to hear.
  • No one got excited; there was no revival, no shouting or jumping pews. Jesus had delivered a message that no one wanted to hear. It was depressing to say the least. No one talks about the REVIVAL at Caesarea Philippi, because there was no REVIVAL. They were on the verge of a DEVIVAL and Jesus knew it, so He gave an invitation–If any of you want to be My follower…You must turn from your selfish way, take up your cross and follow me.”
  • The Spiritual Death that Jesus talked about is a process, thank God. We have a gentle and patient Savior. The first step in the process is to decide to follow. Do you want to follow Jesus knowing it means a cross? The cross is the bad news but you get to discover your real life in the process, that is the good news which makes the cross good news also.

 

 
Advertisements

Mother’s Day Gift

Luke 7:11-17

11 Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. 12 A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. 14 Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” 15 Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother. 16 Great fear swept the crowd, and they praised God, saying, “A mighty prophet has risen among us,” and “God has visited his people today.” 17 And the news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding countryside.

INTRODUCTION

Our world has changed drastically since the 1950’s when I was a child. My mother was a stay at home mom but that was true of practically mother in those days. Today this is true of an elite few. They say stay at home moms are on the rise, up to 29% in 2012 and according to PEW RESEARCH it reached its all time low in 1999 with 23% of moms working at home. This is encouraging but I find this statistic hard to believe. Most mothers I know work outside the home. Our kids grew up in the 8o’s and things have changed a lot in just that one generation. According to the United States Census Bureau, 7 out of 10 kids live with two parents and 6 out of 10 live with both biological parents but this includes those who are married and those who are cohabitating. At age twelve 55% of children live with biological parents according to the Census which I do not believe is accurate. If you walk across the road to our middle and high school, you will not be able to verify those numbers. It is more likely to be 60-65% not living with one or both biological parents. As a matter of fact, most kids do no have the same last name as the parent, grandparent or guardian they are living with. When our children were in school they would tell us about children who ask if they could live with us and did do some foster parenting with two high school students. By the way, I do not recommend that you take other children into your home without proper counseling and training. There are many things that have to be considered. Our youngest daughter said repeatedly that we were dysfunctional as a family so why would anyone want to move in with us. My wife cooked and we actually sat at a table and shared meals together. This was a dream to many of these kids. A dad that works and a mom who cooks and a family that eats together, wow! Before you have a hearty laugh, you might ought to find out how many moms cook for their children these days. I’m not talking about fast food or microwave food. Point is– things have really changed and some not for the better.

Today we want to talk about a mother for whom we have no name; all we know is she was a widow and had only one son and he was not very old. I’m going to guess he was a teenager. We are going to talk about this particular mother in hopes that it will be an encouragement to every mother.

I. THE FIRST THING I WANT YOU TO NOTE IS HER GRIEF

When Jesus encounters this woman, she is crying. Her son has died mysteriously and they are on the way to the grave yard with the body. She is heart-broken. She has already suffered the loss of her husband which is underrated: Widows do not get the sympathy they deserve. Everyone in our society discounts the value of a man and the general consensus is: “Women are better off without them” but that is not how most widows feel. Have you noticed: “Good women have a tendency to love sorry men.” Sometimes we think they should be celebrating their freedom but in reality, they are literally grieving their loss. So she has lost a husband and now her only son and probably only child. This poor mother is devastated. Being a mother is not for sissies, it does involved pain. It begins with pain in giving birth but there is more to follow. Raising small children may seem relatively easy but just wait, children become teenagers and then you begin paying for your raising. The pain does not stop with high school graduation or even college or even employment. Sibling rivalries are real, very real and when there is more than one child, you are apt to deal with jealously and it is an ugly creature. Adult children can bring a lot of grief. I have spent time as a child sitting outside a locked door where my mother was grieving for my siblings that were grown.  A mother loves her children and grief is the price we pay for love. A mother who does not grieve does not care. I had to learn the hard way that there are exceptions to the rule and there are mothers who do not care about their children.

Several years ago [middle 90’s] I preached a sermon on MOTHER’s Day about appreciating your mother no matter what she had done. A young man heard the sermon and looked up his estranged mother who lived within 30 minutes of his home. She had abandon this boy when he was a small child and he really had no relationship with her but he worked up the nerve to call her and she told him, never to call again. By the time he got to my house, he was weeping out of control. It took me 20 minutes to find out what was going on. How could any mother do this to her own child? I do not know. In the same service sat another young man about the same age whose mother abandon him when he was a small child. She left him and his brother with their daddy who was not well and died when the boys were teenagers. They literally raised themselves. His mother was living with another man 12 miles away. It was a humbling experience. So, I know there are some sorry mothers out there but they are thank God, the exception to the rule. A loving mother is a grieving mother. Jesus was moved by this woman’s tears. Had she not cared deeply about her son Jesus might not have stopped but He was moved by her grief.

II. NOTICE SECONDLY: HER GIFT

You talk about a great Mother’s Day gift, Jesus gave her the best, He gave her what she wanted most–her son. I love this story. This kid laying on the stretcher looked dead to everyone except Jesus. It amazes me the difference between how Jesus sees people and how we see people. When Jesus saw the kid, He saw him asleep and in need of being awakened. How hard is it to wake some one up from even a deep sleep. I was sitting in my chair this week reading and went sound of sleep. My secretary had no idea and she stuck her head in my office to tell me that she was going to the other buildings and she spoke before she looked and I jumped a foot off the ground. I was asleep but she woke me up. It was hard, she simply spoke. My wife knows how to wake me up. My 18 month old granddaughter knows how to wake me up. If someone is a sleep, we don’t panic, we just wake them up. Jesus saw this young fellow as being asleep, that is the way He sees what we call “Dead Folks.” The Greek word used here means to get up, to rise, to be aroused from sleep. Jesus simply spoke to this young man and told him to get up which he did. The power of His word brought through the barrier of physical death and the boy responded. What a mother’s day gift! She got her son back. It is not always a new purse, a new car or a dozen roses that Mom wants. Sometimes the greatest gift is to get a child back.

III. LAST, NOTE THE GLORY

Mother’s have their share of grief; ask Mary Mother of Jesus. When Simeon saw Mary and Joseph with Jesus at the temple, he said, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all  people.  He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”  Simeon was right, Mary had her grief but in the end, she had her glory. In the kingdom of God suffering always leads to glory. The glory of this story is Jesus turned a funeral into a celebration of life. They were crying one minute and shouting the next. Jesus can turn our mourning into laughter, our sorrow into joy. He can turn our plain ordinariness into something with fantastic and exciting.

CONCLUSION

Colossians 3:1-4

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

Let me share a secret that the world knows nothing about and I have on fear in you informing them of this secret because they are not going to believe you. Your real life is hidden with Christ in God. No one sees the real you other than God. You don’t even see it yourself.  Paul said…”We have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!” Most people did not see the glory in Christ and they do not see it in you either but that doesn’t mean it is not there. I’ve never seen the leaning tower of Pisa but this does not mean that it is not there.

So I want you to remember what happened in this story…first there is the grief but in the end there is glory…Jesus has power of death…the woman gets the one thing she wants most, her son alive and well. Remember this: the devil [sin] gives the glory first and then comes the suffering but with Christ it is the opposite, the suffering comes first and then the glory.

The key question: Is Christ in you? [1] He is not in you by default. You did not get Christ with your first birth, you got Adam but not Christ. [2] He is not in you by proxy. He is not in you because your parents are believers. [3] He is not in you via Church Membership or Baptism. There is only one way that Christ will enter your life and that is by invitation. Have you invited Christ into your life to be your LORD and Savior. I have to be honest with you: He will forgive your sins but only if you repent of them. There is no precedent in scripture of Jesus rejecting anyone who came to HIM in humility, faith and repentance. You find one, email me the reference jack@danvillebaptist.org. I am not worried, you will not find one. Come to Christ today. Come humbly, trusting Him and repent of your sins. He will save you: He has promised to save you.

[Related verses for further study]

I John 3:1-3

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!