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Common Question--Uncommon Answer
Scripture: Mark 8:27-38; 9:1-13
Track 11 of 19 in the Encountering a Changing World series
Running time: 28 minutes, 08 seconds.
Watershed text: Jesus is the messiah. Transfiguration affirms this truth.

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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Sermon for Sunday, March 16, 2003
"Common Question - Uncommon Answer"
(Mark 8:27 - 9:13)
G. Charles Sackett

Growing up in southwestern Idaho, one of the things we heard a lot about, especially if anybody had the opportunity to go, which some of my friends did, was this place down in California that they called Disneyland. It was THE place. Well, I never did get the opportunity to go. Our family didn't take those kinds of vacations. That was not something within the realm of possibility for us but when I moved to the Midwest and discovered how close I was to Florida and that other place where the funny little mouse runs around, I decided I was going to take my children to Disney World. They were not going to miss out on the great pleasure that I had missed out on when I was a child. The only problem was, reality and imagination collided. I had incredibly high expectations. Now, no offense to those of you who are deeply in love with Disney World. I didn't like it! I was just sorely disappointed. It was not at all what I had dreamed it to be in those years of living in this keen anticipation. It had to be better than this! I mean I just as soon go to Six Flags.

I think it had to be something like that for those early disciples. And Peter represents them well. They have lived with not just a generation, but they have lived with centuries of anticipation of the coming of the Messiah. This one that God has promised from, well, from Adam all the way forward. They had been living in this keen anticipation in that there was going to come ONE who would somehow be the ONE sent from God; and, now here He was. Unfortunately, He wasn't what they expected.

If you look at this text in Mark, Chapter 8. We looked at it just briefly last week. One of the things you'll notice is Peter's ah, kind of shock, at what turns out to be reality, when, in his mind he has this image of what a creator is supposed to really be like. . . . .what a Messiah should become for them. We'll pick it up in Verse 27.

Jesus and His disciples went on to the villages of Caesare'a Philip'pi; and on the way He asked them, "Who do people say I am?" And they replied, "Some say you're John the Baptist; and others say, you're Eli'jah; and still others say you're one of the prophets." "But what about you, who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ." And Jesus warned them not to tell anyone.

He then 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 teachers of the law, and that He must be killed, and after three days rise again. And He spoke plainly about this. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But when Jesus turned and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan! You don't have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

And then he called the crowd to Him along with His disciples and He said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul? What can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of man will be ashamed of him when he comes in His Father's glory with the holy angels." And He said to them, "I tell you the truth, some of you who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power."

It's not a new question - Who do people think that I am? That showed up clear back in the 6th Chapter. It wasn't so much the question as it was just the anticipation. Some people think that Jeremiah has returned or Eli'jah has come or John the Baptist has come back from the dead.

The more important question is; What about you? It's still the more important question. What about you? Who, who do you think that I am? And Peter's response, I think, intended to represent the response that God was desiring from many, many people is, You're the Christ. Except, I think that he has in mind something other than what Jesus has in mind.

Do you notice Jesus comment after the rebuke? You don't have the things of God in mind, but rather the things of men. I'm suspicious! Though what's going on here, is that Peter, like all the other Jews in that era, believed that the Messiah was going to come and they were going to literally have the return of the land. They were going to have the return of prosperity. They were going to have the return of dominion, the King was going to be back on the throne. They were going to go back to being this strong, national kingdom.

And of course, Jesus fit that model perfectly, because, I mean, he could heal people that were ill. He could raise people from the dead. He could turn bread into multiple loaves. He could be everything that was needed for Israel to become strong again. But what He says is, I'm gonna die. And Peter's response is, essentially; NO, NO YOU're NOT. Messiah's don't die! That's not what

Messiahs do. Then there's this incredible statement; Get behind me, Satan! That's not good news! That had to be a harsh comment. I mean, I don't know how you could hear that in any way, other than feeling like you'd been slapped in the face. Adversary, not follower, but adversary. In that comment is this most critical little phrase; Get behind me. You see what's happening is that Peter is attempting to step out in front of Jesus and tell Him, this is the way you're supposed to do things. And Jesus says, NO. The place for a disciple is behind me. It's not new language to them and it will be repeated again in Verse 34.

Did you notice Verse 34? If you want to be my disciple, basically, he says. You will have to deny yourself and (the text says) follow me. Literally, the word is; come behind me.

But this is the word that showed up clear back in Mark, Chapter 1. Remember several weeks ago. Here's the question. Come, follow me. Well the text literally says; come, get behind me. Cause, frankly, that's the only place a genuine disciple can occupy, is the place behind the ONE who is the leader.

Here's the bottom line. To be a disciple, is to do things Jesus way. That's what this text is trying to help us understand. If you want to be a disciple, you have to do things Jesus way. If you're going to follow him, then you have to let him direct where you're going. And that's not what Peter wants to do. What Peter wants to do is get up in front and he wants to determine where we're going and Jesus says NO. If you want to be my disciple, you have to step in behind me and follow me.

Now there's some incredible serious implications in that text that would be, I think, a terrible mistake for us to miss.

Look at Verses 34 and 35. He calls the crowd with His disciples and says, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it."

Very simple statement. Deny yourself. Not particularly, strongly an American thing to do. Ah-huh, we're not in to self-denial. We're in to indulgence. We're in to consumer. We like "STUFF". We're not into self-denial. All you gotta do is just pick up any magazine or watch any paid advertisement on television and they're going to tell you how to solve all of your problems without having to deny yourself. Take this pill, buy this machine, do this routine. Huhhhhhh. Then you pick up a real magazine like, well, like my favorite; Runners World. You know what they tell you about fitness and condition? Eat less, run more. Well, that sounds like work. Eat less, run more. Well, if I'm gonna do that, eat less; I have to deny myself. I think I like the paid advertisement that says: Take this pill and you can eat everything you want. Because see, we're just not in to self-denial. Well, that's just not what we like to do. We want to indulge ourselves. Jesus says, If you want to follow me, you're going to have to learn to deny yourself. Not a particularly pleasant kind of implication.

But it's a little better than the next one. Cause the next one is, not only deny yourself but He says, take up your cross. I don't happen to have one, but if I did I'd show it to you. You know, one of those pretty gold ones. Maybe one up here. I can't get my wife to submit to that. I've been thinking, no I really haven't - - -

When I was in Poland a few years ago, my interpreter asked if I would like, on the day that we were going down to a church where I was going to be preaching on Sunday, after I had finished my class Saturday, if I would want to go and see Auschwitz. That was kind of a strange question. Want to go, probably was not the best way to term it. But I really did have an interest in going. I had no idea of where it was, but I'm telling you the truth, it's still a mystery to me. But I'm telling you the honest truth, about a mile before we got there, I knew we were there. I didn't understand it. I mean, I didn't know where it was. I was just in the countryside of southern Poland, but something in the air, something about it was just eerie and we drove around the corner and there it was. This large wall with wire, razor wire around the top and there was just this looming sense of death. You know, you could never drive down that road and not think about that. That's all that wall meant. That wall meant that somewhere in the vicinity of six million Jews, I don't know how many million gypsies and how many hundreds of thousands of others died in camps just like that.

See, when Jesus said, take up your cross, that's exactly what He had in mind. It's like the old west. When you saw a gallows on the side of the road, you knew what that meant. Somebody died. It was never a piece of jewelry. It was never a gimp leg. It was never being married to the wrong person. It was never just your cross to bear, that you had this burden you had to carry all of your life. The only thing Jesus ever meant when he said, take up your cross was this. You have to die to yourself. If you want to be my disciple, you have to join me in my death. You remember where He's going? Because the next thing He says is what? Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me. Well, what had He just said. I'm gonna go to Jerusalem and what's going to happen to me? I'm gonna die. Come, follow me.

And then he asks this crazy question; What will a man give for his soul? He makes this crazy paradox. If you want to save your life, lose it. If you want to live, die. There's nothing popular, by the way, about the Christian message in a consumer culture, that wants everything to go its way. That wants to have its pick off of the menu, because there is no pick off of this menu. This menu is simply one item and one item only. You want to follow me, you have to die to yourself, take up your cross and follow. And if you lose your life, you'll gain it. But that's the only way that you'll gain it. And Mark inserts, I think for the sake of future generations, not just me, but for the sake of the gospel. Because he understands that there will be eras coming when Jesus will not be present directly, but people will still be called to die for Him and thereby gain their life.

And as you know, there are more Christians killed in the twentieth century, than in the previous nineteen centuries put together. And it will only get worse in this century, not better.

So Jesus says, if we want to follow, then we're going to die to our self. That's the first implication. Versus 36 and 37 give you the second implication. That not only do we have to die to our self, but we have to determine our price.

Did you hear that, Verse 36: What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul? What can a man give in exchange for his soul? For what price will you exchange your soul? Somebody said once that we all have a price. That everything is for sale. Now I don't know whether that's true or not. I suspect I don't own anything that's not for sale if the price is right. But you remember a few years ago they made that really dumb movie; I never did see it but there's this dumb movie about a guy who wants to buy another man's wife for a million dollars and they actually wrestle this thing out and make the decision that he's going to let her go for one night for a million dollars. Everybody has a price. That's the point I think the movie was trying to make. The question is; what is your price? At what point do you sell out? At what point is it too much to pay to be a Christian? At what point does following Jesus get to be too expensive? Some peoples price is not too high, by the way. I don't mean that offensively. It's just that some people will pay a pretty simple price. It's called, I want to be happy. I'm not happy right now, so I'll do what I want to do to be happy. Throw away my marriage, give up the church, behave like my friends want to behave, even though I know it's wrong, simply because I want to be happy. And happiness is the price they would pay to give up their faith. Some people will pay an incredibly simple price just to have friends. They'll give up their value system. They'll give up their faith (face??) just in order to have the person in school or at work, ,who seems to be the popular person, be their friend. Being their friend means I have to act less like a Christian or not a Christian at all, then I'm willing to pay that kind of price.

Jesus wants to know. At what price would you sell your soul? What are you worth? If you want God's answer from that, just back up and look at the Cross! Because He'll tell you how much He thinks you're worth. Enough to send His Son to die for you.

Well then in Verse 38 He says: If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of man will be ashamed of him when he comes in His Father's glory with the holy angels. Not only do we determine our price, we have to take a stand. We have to decide if we're going to stand for Him. Peter, in just a few weeks is going to be faced with this very same kind of situation when he's going to be asked to stand and not be ashamed. And you know what he's going to say; I don't know what you're talking about, I don't know Him. I never knew Him. No, not me. You got me mistaken for somebody else. It wasn't me. I've been there! I don't know if you've ever been there. I've been there!

My daughter had left a bunch of stuff out at the high school after a track meet and she had to go to work, and so, she sent me back to the school to pick up her stuff. And as I was pulling into the circle drive at Lincoln High School I realized that I had a home made Christian tee shirt on. I mean, something really DORKY and said something really profound, like, Jesus Loves You. It was one of those projects at school that one of the students was doing and I got caught in the middle of having to wear this all day. Now, I don't normally wear Christian tee shirts, even of quality, much less DORKY ones. I got out of the car. I looked at my shirt and I asked myself this question. Do I really want to face the track coach wearing this? It was not a long conversation, because I have a very short attention span and I can't keep myself interested very long. But the conversation basically was, am I going to offend my teacher if I wear this? Will I break down the connection that I'm trying to build with him so that I can witness to him at some point? Is this a good thing, a bad thing? I ended up taking it off.

And for the last, oh I don't know, ten years, I've been asking myself; Did I take it off because I didn't want to offend him or did I take it off because I was ashamed to wear it? I don't know the answer to the question. I still don't to this day. What I know is, that it is a temptation almost every day of my life to have to make a decision; am I going to be ashamed of Jesus? Am I going to be ashamed to associate with other Christians? Am I going to be ashamed to use Christian vocabulary in the workplace? Am I going to be ashamed to let everybody know what I do for a living? See, I have ways of getting around that. Maybe you haven't figured that out yet. See, it's really kind of nice to say I'm a Professor. A Professor of what? Communication. What I really do is teach preaching. But preaching sounds really religious. Ever have that temptation? To not just wanna fess up and say; what do I do on Sunday mornings? I go to Church. The challenge is to decide; am I willing to take a stand? Am I willing to identify with the Church? You see the bottom line is really very simple. Being a disciple means doing things Jesus way.

And sometimes, frankly, that's hard. Cause His way is not necessarily easy. And I think Peter understands that. I don't think this is something you should look down at Peter for. I just think he understands. This was not what he bargained for. Reality and imagination have collided in a way that has caused him intense difficulty. And he's wrestling. Am I going to follow or not? Do I really believe this?

And there is this awful statement in the 2nd Verse of Chapter 9. Six days later. We get nothing! Peter is called Satan and then silence. God doesn't speak for six days! Can you imagine what it was like for Peter to sit around and wonder what's going on?? You've had those moments haven't you? Sitting in a hallway at a hospital, waiting for the news to come from the room - this is awful - I mean, there's waiting and then there's waiting, you know. Six days of silence!