No. 01. "Who Are They Saying I Am?"

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Bothwell & Clachan

Sept 17, 2006

Mark 8:27- 9:1

Message Series (A) - JESUS’ CURIOUS QUESTIONS FOR CONFUSED FOLLOWERS: Message No.1. - “Who Are They Saying I Am?" (The Turning Point of Jesus' Ministry) Mark 8:27- 9:1

Soon it will be time for many of you to return to “Aquire the Fire.” Some of you will be attending for the first time. Before you arrive in Hamilton for that rally at the end of October, I intend to touch on some of the events and teaching in Jesus life where he speaks specifically to the costs of being a Jesus follower. As you can see from the Bible reading, Today is one of those days.

However, I realize that all of you will not be making that journey. Especially those of you have diminished hearing from years of working on farm machinery and lawn tractors. You might not benefit because you will not be able to hear the loud, blasting Christian rock bands as they play. Just kidding.

With all of their cutting edge speakers and stage effects, ATF often seems like it is pushing the boundaries to get out the message. Perhaps you noticed that I too pushed a boundary today. Yes, I know it was tiny. Did you catch it. No? Well, I had Randy keep reading into the first verse of Chapter nine. Thats right, we did not stop at the end of Chapter eight. Pretty daring eh? How un-Canadian is that?

Speaking of daring, did you catch Canadian Astronaut Maclean out in Space, walking and using the Canadarm? Now that is daring. I heard him interviewed and he is still pumped about anything to do with space.You could call him a real “space disciple?”

On the other hand, from the higest highs to the lowest lows. Montreal school shooting. Our world needs Jesus! A radical “give me all youve got, Jesus”

1. You (You’re) Are The One - Mark 8:27-29

(a). Who are they saying I am?

“Who ARE they saying I am?”

He repeatedly quizzed his followers.

“Will the real Jesus, please stand up?”

Finally, “Hey, it is you! You’re the one they are all ‘looking” for.”

“You, You’re the one!”


But why is this the turning point? All along it was as if Jesus had kept hinting that he had a big, big surprise for the disciples. “Oh no, ‘can’t tell you yet.” But from now on each of the gospels show that Jesus now exclusively zeros in on the disciples and teaches them about his end and how it will effect them. He could do that, because as the Life Application Bible notes, These followers have now moved from curiosity to commitment, from admiration to adoration.

(b). Bono Proclaims the Divinity of Jesus - Mark 8:29

Bono, lead singer of the rock group U2, was asked if the claim of Jesus' divinity is farfetched.

No, it's not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius.

But actually Christ doesn't allow you that. He doesn't let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I'm not saying I'm a teacher. Don't call me teacher. I'm not saying I'm a prophet. I'm saying: "I'm the Messiah." I'm saying: "I am God incarnate." And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take…. But don't mention the "M" word! Because, you know, we're gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you're expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah….

So what you're left with is: either Christ was who he said he was—the Messiah—or a complete nutcase. I mean, we're talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson…. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had "King of the Jews" on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: Okay, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain!

The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that's farfetched.

Michka Assayas, Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas (Riverhead Books, 2005)

2 Yes, But Don’t Tell! - Mark 8 :30

Keep it Quiet

We can still hear the disciples whooping it up. “Whoopie! A Messiah, King-Deliver Kind of Guy. The Romans are out. We are in. Yes!”

“Well, no, and don’t you dare tell!” Expositors says Jesus threatened them, spoke in a menacing tone. He didn’t want a premature political revolution against Rome. He wanted time to give them more teaching. “Don’t tell ANYONE!”

Oh, And By the Way, I’m Going To Die - Mark 8:31

“Yes, I’m the special one people have been waiting for. And I’m going to go to Jerusalem. And then of courser they’ll kill me. Yup, I’m gonna get “the cross.” And I’m going to die, but its OK, because then I’ll come back to life!”

Pardon? “What’s that? Oh Yes, I’ll be dead about three days, give or take. And I’m afraid that all of the political and religious elite will turn against me. Oh Yes, I’m sure It’ll be the cross for me.”

3. Peter & Jesus Go Toe to Toe - Mark 8 :32-33

Over and over Jesus kept saying it as he tries to ram home the news.

(And I think its fair to say that the disciples were stunned). Go to Jerusalem? Die? What about us? Doesn’t he know that followers usually end up like their teachers. Are we going to die to?

Finally Peter can’t take it any more. He is up and shouting at Jesus what the rest had all been thinking: “No Way. Uhuh. It ain’t gonna happen, Jesus. Not the cross! That ugly, stinking way to die?”.

Now perhaps Jesus was thinking of the alternatives. That he could call ten thousand angels for help. That before things got too bad they could form a mosh pit by the Cross and Jesus could jump down and body surf to safety.

But before that fleeting thought could finish firing through his brain,

Jesus spun away from Peter, looked at the rest, and gave it right back. “Get away from me “Devil Boy.” You don’t have a clue what I’m about. Get back into your hell-hole.” Yes, its over the top, hyperbole, exageration. But it certainly got their attention.

4. Jesus Spells Out Our Role - Mark 8:34

Many of you saw the Billy Crystal movie about the three fellows in mid-life Crisis. It was in the news recently because one of the “40-something” actors in it, died suddenly from an unexected illness. In that movie the character played by Crystal says there is ONE thing inlife that we must figure out. When we learn that important one thing, life will have meaing.

In contrast, here Jesus looked his followers and said: “there are three things. Get these three thingsright and you will have a meaningful, significant life. Jesus’ three famous three demands: Deny Yourself, Take up your Cross & follow me.

(a).Setting Our Upper Limit - Mark 8:34-38

One pastor tells the story of his father taking me to an auction sale. He told me, "Don't scratch your nose at the wrong time, son." He also said, "Always remember this: Whenever you go to an auction sale, make sure you know your upper limit price." That's ingrained in me.

The great danger for us is that we walk into the Christian life knowing clearly our upper limit price. Jesus does not allow us to set that. "If you save your life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for my sake and the gospel's, you will keep it," said Jesus.

Our calling is to a life of unconditional obedience where the price is unknown.

Colin Smith, pastor of Arlington Heights Evangelical Free Church, Arlington Heights, Illinois; Preaching Today #204

(b). Deny Yourself, Take up your Cross & follow me.

  • (i) A negative command. Deny yourself. Not just self-denial, but not rejecting Jesus. Instead reject or deny anything that would threaten your relationship with him.

Our personal whims are no longer to be the main organizing principle of our lives.

  • (ii) A positive command. Pick up your cross. Decide now that you are already willing to pay the price, to do whatever it takes to follow Jesus.

That may mean deciding not to be the most popular kid in school if it means going against what you know Jesus wants of you. That may mean your decisions and attitudes will be misunderstood out in the community. Cross-bearing, as a willingness to suffer and die for the Lord's sake, can take many forms.

  • (iii) Decide to try to stay close to Jesus, as you follow him through life.

“W.W.J.D.” is still a good motto for life.

(c). Wiersbe’s Summary points

  • (i) .We become children of God by trusting Christ and confessing Him to be the Son of God (1 John 4:1–3) who died for us on the cross and rose again (Rom. 10:9–10).
  • (ii). (But) We become disciples of Jesus Christ by surrendering our all to Him, taking up our cross, and following Him. If we live for ourselves, we lose our lives and He is ashamed of us; but if we live for Christ, we save our lives and glorify Him (John 12:23–28).

(Life Application Bible Note) We should be willing to lose our lives for the sake of the gospel, not because our lives are useless but because nothing—not even life itself—can compare to what we gain with Christ.

  • (iii). Many people spend all their energy seeking pleasure.

(But) Discipleship saves us from the tragedy of a wasted life. Yes, there is suffering in taking up a cross to follow Jesus; but that suffering always leads to glory.

5. The Costs and the Rewards - Mark 8:35 – 9:1

Jesus constantly turns the world’s perspective upside down with this paradoxial talk of first and last, saving and losing.

Brad Pitt on the American Dream - Mark 8:36-37

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, celebrity Brad Pitt reflected on his lead role in the movie Fight Club, which is about a man who has the American dream and yet remains unsatisfied:

Pitt: Man, I know all these things are supposed to seem important to us—the car, the condo, our version of success—but if that's the case, why is the general feeling out there reflecting more impotence and isolation and desperation and loneliness? If you ask me, I say toss all this—we gotta find something else. Because all I know is that at this point in time, we are heading for a dead end, a numbing of the soul, a complete atrophy of the spiritual being. And I don't want that.

Rolling Stone: So if we're heading toward this kind of existential dead end in society, what do you think should happen?

Pitt: Hey, man, I don't have those answers yet. The emphasis now is on success and personal gain. [smiles] I'm sitting in it, and I'm telling you, that's not it. I'm the guy who's got everything. I know. But I'm telling you, once you've got everything, then you're just left with yourself. I've said it before and I'll say it again: it doesn't help you sleep any better, and you don't wake up any better because of it.

Rolling Stone (10-28-99); submitted by Bill White, Paramount, California

Life is worth more than the world itself, Jesus says giving one’s life in this world to gain it in the world to come is a wise transaction

6. Conclusions- Two Questions

(a) Are you Embarrassed about God - Mark 8:38

In a Rolling Stone interview, Tanya Donelly, lead singer of Grammy-nominated alternative rock band Belly, notes, "For some reason, God is embarrassing to people. It doesn't embarrass somebody to talk about how they got completely bombed the night before and puked all over themselves, but God is a really embarrassing subject, and that's kind of strange." - (Janice Dunn, "Crowning Moment," Rolling Stone (4-20-95), pp. 47-48; submitted by Melissa Parks)

(b) Are you a "Rabbit Hole" Christian - Mark 8:38

Many believers are "rabbit hole" Christians. In the morning they pop out of their safe Christian homes, hold their breath at work, scurry home to their families and then off to their Bible studies, and finally end the day praying for the unbelievers they safely avoided all day. - (Jan Johnson in Moody Monthly (Nov. 1987). Christianity Today, Vol. 32, no. 8)

  • Larry Richards in his Teachers Commentary concludes: A person who rejects discipleship will never know what he or she might have become if his or her life had been turned over to Jesus. Only if we commit ourselves fully to Him, and make the disciples’ daily choice of obedience, can we discover the new life relationship which Jesus makes possible for us!
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