Mark 8:31-38 Must

Second Sunday in Lent  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  16:13
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Mark 8:31-38 (Evangelical Heritage Version)

31Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things; be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the experts in the law; be killed; and after three days rise again. 32He was speaking plainly to them. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But after turning around and looking at his disciples, Jesus rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You do not have your mind set on the things of God, but the things of men.”

34He called the crowd and his disciples together and said to them, “If anyone wants to follow me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36After all, what good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul? 37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38In fact, whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Must

I.

What do you do when your friend seems to be in a self-destructive state of mind? Perhaps you stage an intervention.

That’s just what he thought he was doing. It seemed that his best friend had a death wish. Some of the things he was saying sounded reckless. It’s not a good attitude; it’s not a good look. He simply had to do what he could to head this off at the pass—to get his friend’s mind right.

Peter was the one staging the intervention. Jesus was his friend. The things Jesus was saying were reckless in the extreme. Words like “suffer,” “rejected,” and “killed” were all part of the current rhetoric of Jesus. People just don’t talk like that unless they are hoping for such results, do they?

Just before the words of our text, Peter boldly identified Jesus: “You are the Christ” (Mark 8:29, EHV). The Christ was another word for the Messiah. Both meant the One whom God had promised from ancient times. To be sure, when Peter thought of the Christ, he understood that Jesus would have some cleaning up to do. Perhaps some of that cleaning would seem radical; even that wouldn’t be unusual. After all, at God’s direction, some of the prophets of long ago had done some pretty bizarre things.

“Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him” (Mark 8:32, EHV). While Peter understood that God’s promised Messiah would have to do some pretty radical things to reform Jewish religious—and maybe even, he hoped, political life, this seeming death-wish on the part of Jesus—suffer, rejected, killed—was not lining up with Peter’s ideals. That’s why Peter chose to go the route of intervention.

In a sense, perhaps, it was all about Peter. Peter, and even the other eleven. You see, they had all hitched their wagons to Jesus. Their very livelihoods were now dependent on Jesus and how he was received by others and how he presented himself to others. Peter was confident, however, that his ideas about the Messiah were accurate.

“But after turning around and looking at his disciples, Jesus rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You do not have your mind set on the things of God, but the things of men’” (Mark 8:33, EHV). I wonder what kind of look that was. Was it anger? Was it scorn? Was it pity?

I know one thing; Satan was using Peter to try to get Jesus to abandon his all-important quest to free the world from the curse of sin. Jesus was already under constant attack from “the elders, the chief priests, and the experts in the law” (Mark 8:31, EHV). He had just told them he going to suffer even more vicious attacks from all these people.

What Peter’s words and actions show is that the Devil loves to use subversive means just as much as frontal assaults. We heard recently about Jesus’ temptations by Satan in the wilderness. Here Satan goes into stealth mode. Get the closest friends of Jesus to urge Jesus to do what he, Satan, wants.

Foiled again! Jesus recognizes Satan’s efforts, even coming out of the mouth of his own friend. “Get behind me, Satan!”

II.

Peter isn’t the only one who had his own ideas about who Jesus ought to be or what he ought to do. Peter’s view of what the Messiah “ought to” be wasn’t really so different from the crowds of people who followed Jesus everywhere he went. That view isn’t so different from today’s view of who and what Jesus ought to be.

The crowds who perpetually chased Jesus down thought the same thing Peter did: Messiah was going to be a political figure. They thought Jesus ought to deal with all the societal problems. Not just the Roman government that oppressed them, but poverty and hunger, violent crime, substance abuse, and prostitution. Many Christians still seek a Jesus political kingdom by attempting to legislate morality. If not that, then the feel that Jesus “ought to” deal with all the evil in the world. How can anyone be expected to worship a God who allows so many bad things to happen and so much evil to march around the globe seemingly unchecked?

Perhaps God isn’t powerful enough—or willing enough—to erase all the evil from the world. Maybe he is restricted to one territory, just like so many pagan people from Bible days believed. If it isn’t a lack of power to eradicate evil from the whole world, at least a loving God “ought to” be more generous to his followers. Why do believers have to suffer so much illness and heartbreak? Why should believers have to live in such poverty? Couldn’t God give all those who believe enough wealth to live in relative comfort and ease?

When Peter had identified Jesus as the Christ, right before our text, “[Jesus] warned them not to tell anyone about him” (Mark 8:30, EHV). When he had to call Peter “Satan,” we find out why. Jesus doesn’t want false information perpetuated. There was so much misinformation and disinformation about who he was. There was so much misinformation and disinformation about what Messiah was supposed to do when he came. “Don’t talk about me to people until you understand fully what I really came to do.”

III.

No sooner had Jesus told them not to spread the message about him just yet than he launched into an explanation of the real information.

“Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things; be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the experts in the law; be killed; and after three days rise again. 32He was speaking plainly to them” (Mark 8:31-32, EHV). Must. This was not the ranting and raving of a self-delusional, reckless man bent on his own destruction. This was not something to be stopped by an intervention.

Sin is serious. Sin separates a person from God. That includes all kinds of moral evils that we talk about all the time. It includes the evils in the world that we wish the Messiah-figure would deal with and eliminate, at least in our corner of the world. It includes all kinds of immorality in our own lives that we often don’t like to admit to. It also includes the thoughts we have that we wish God would be what we want him to be or do what we want him to do.

All these sins, and every other misdeed you can think of, separates each one of us from God. Every one of these sins demands a payment. Every sin must be paid for. To pay for them, God established his plan of salvation. Rather than a lamb offered up on Israel’s altar at the temple, the One called the perfect, innocent, Lamb of God—Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ—would be the sacrifice God required. He would be rejected by all those important figures in society; he would suffer and die for the sins of the whole world.

But Jesus also taught them that he would rise again. That would be the proof that the Heavenly Father was satisfied with his sacrifice for the sins of the world. All of it must happen in this way.

It was the only option. There were no others. Jesus would even ask about other options when he was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, hours before his execution. “If there is some other way, Father, that this can all be done, take this cup of suffering away from me. But if not, then so be it.”

After he prayed in this way, Luke says: “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him” (Luke 22:43, EHV). The cup was not taken away, but he was strengthened to carry on and complete the mission to save world.

Suffering, rejection, and being killed must be what took place for our salvation. Jesus knew all that was to come, even as he warned the disciples in today’s Gospel about it.

IV.

Having fought off the temptations of Satan again, this time coming out of the mouth of his friend Peter, “[Jesus] called the crowd and his disciples together and said to them, ‘If anyone wants to follow me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me’” (Mark 8:34, EHV).

I think Christians kind of, sort of understand that, don’t they? Even the Apostle Paul had a thorn in the flesh. He asked God to take away whatever it was, but the pain or the problem never went away. We know the same is true for us. There will be sicknesses that have to be endured. Everyone has to deal with the loss of loved ones sooner or later. There are money pressures and relationship pressures and many others. All these are crosses we must bear, aren’t they?

That isn’t exactly what Jesus means. “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it” (Mark 8:35, EHV). The real crosses Christians have to face in life are the crosses that come from simply being a Christian; “for Jesus’ sake,” and “for the sake of the gospel.” Jesus says many times that those who believe in him, those who follow him, can expect persecution because of Jesus’ name.

“In fact, whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38, EHV). Were Peter’s words earlier the words of a man who was ashamed of Jesus; of what Jesus said being Messiah meant that he would have to do? I asked before what kind of look was it that Jesus gave as he sternly rebuked Peter. I guess I can’t really imagine. Jesus, obviously, knew how much Peter still had to learn and how far he had to come before he would really be ready to boldly preach Christ and him crucified and risen for the sins of the world. But Jesus also knew that Peter would, eventually, be that bold preacher of the gospel.

Keep learning and growing. Don’t be ashamed of Jesus and his gospel, which must be heard by many more.

“After all, what good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul? 37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37, EHV). Some dream of being rich. It’s the greed that lotteries are built on. The thought of being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want, without anyone ever telling you no, is an intoxicating idea. But even wealth beyond that of Elon Musk is not as valuable as your soul. The momentary pleasures you would receive from being richer than the richest man aren’t worth having if it meant you had traded your soul for eternal death in hell.

Jesus told them he must suffer, be rejected, be killed, and rise again. Thank God he was willing to do all that for you and me. We have heard it. We believe it. Now he calls us to take up our cross and follow him, without shame and without fear. He will always be with us. Amen.

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