Christ In Front, The World Behind

Christ In Front, The World Behind: Mark 8:31-9:1
Pastor John Nicholas
Sunday August 23, 2020

I am not sure who said this, but it is good to put into practice, “don’t listen to the pastor with an open mind, listen to the pastor with an open bible.” Therefore test what I am saying not by your feelings, but by the word of God.

As we begin the sermon today, we cannot forget how it ended last week. It was Jesus asking the disciples, as they walked to the villages of Caesarea Phillipi. Jesus walking and talking with his disciples. Just a conversation. A conversation that led to the answer of who Jesus was.

Why now, why this question here? Remember Mark is recording what Peter taught so it is not without reason. If we just look back in the narrative perhaps, we can see why, or at least find clues. Think with me if you will, and I know you have heard it before – what has He done – healed, cast out demons, calmed the sea, miraculously fed, and taught.

Who do they say I am, Jesus asked, and how do the disciples respond? The say that he is a prophet, specifically prophets who have passed away. Nonetheless, they are claiming that He is a prophet, why? Because He does things that mark one as a prophet. In other words the signs are there that Jesus has been ordained by God.

But Jesus continues, who do you say that I am? The ones who have been with Him over two years. Hearing the teaching and seeing the miracles. Who do you say that I am? And Peter responds – You are the Christ. Much different than the others. You are the anointed one, the Messiah.

What an answer. Peter claims, rightly, that Jesus is the one and true Messiah.

And that’s what leads us into the next section of scripture. A nice walk in the countryside is going to take a significantly different turn. A walk on the road will lead to a road that leads to the cross.

Mark 8:31-32 (NASB)
31 And He 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 scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.

On the heels of Peter’s answer Jesus begins to teach them. It is important for Him to do this now. Obviously (or maybe not so obvious) the messiah was one that would come to save Israel. They had no concept of what Jesus would say. It was certainly not in their wheelhouse what He would teach.
Jesus refers to himself as the son of man, the term from Daniel 7:13-14, the one coming from the ancient of days in glory. This is how Jesus is describing himself, but there is a change. At first it is not glory but a fulfillment of Isaiah 53, the suffering, the shame, the murder.

Daniel 7:13-14 (NASB)
The Son of Man Presented
13 “I kept looking in the night visions,
And be

hold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.

14 “And to Him was given dominion,
Glory and a kingdom,
That all the peoples, nations and men of every language
Might serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
Which will not pass away;
And His kingdom is one
Which will not be destroyed.

Imagine the shock to the hearers, the disciples, when they heard this. Jesus is the shepherd who is calling His sheep. And he has called them to hear what will happen. What God has ordained since the beginning. That part of the proto evangelion – Genesis 3:15, the bruising of the heel. That this is what it looks like that the seed of the woman, that His heel will be bruised. Rejected, tortured, killed. This equals the bruising as noted in Genesis.

Genesis 3:15 (NASB)
15 And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

How difficult it must have been for them to hear this. This man, this Jesus, the one whom they said what type of man is this that calms the sea, will be killed. Almost certainly they did not understand the rising again. Perhaps the shock of the death prevented them from hearing that he would rise again. Most certainly a resurrection after three days was not part of their understanding. They would have known about resurrection at the end of time but three days after the death? The temple restored in three days. Impossible.

And to add insult to injury Jesus is not making this easy. He is not candy coating it. He is speaking in a frank manner. So that it won’t be misunderstood. Not hidden. Not a parable. Not veiled. But plainly. This teaching is so important. The tough times are coming. Things which will test them in ways they don’t or can’t possibly know.

The shepherd will be struck and they will scatter. And He needs them to know. These witnesses to him. Those who will be the foundation of the church need to know how it is going to be. Teaching them the truth.

There is a time for the candy coating and this is not it. They must know the wicked evil that will befall him and they must know that this is all from God’s hand. That it must be so. And Jesus makes certain of this.

How shocking it must have been for them to hear this. They were unprepared and Jesus sought to prepare them with no chance of misunderstanding Him.

And they probably missed the victorious announcement of His resurrection.

32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.

Which led to the problem of Peter. How could this be? You could almost think yourself into Peter’s sandals. “what am I hearing? How can this be true? Jesus must be out of His mind?.” And he takes Jesus aside. Perhaps Peter sees the shock on the other disciples faces, their reaction to this. He quickly acts – Jesus come over here, we need to talk.

And Peter lays it on the line. You cannot say things like this. Look at what you are doing to them. Besides the fact that this cannot be true. We just saw you calm the sea. Calm the sea. What type of man is this? You controlled nature. How could these people torture and kill you. That cannot be true. You must stop saying these things.

But Peter has fallen into the opportune time of the devil. Remember when the satan tempted Jesus in the desert with all the things that appeal to man, material things, power. And Jesus resisted. Luke 4:13 tells us that the devil left until a more opportune time. And here it is. The more opportune time.

Luke 4:12-13 (NASB)
12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
13 When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.

Peter seizing on worldly thinking. Believing that the Messiah must come in a different matter seeks to take Jesus out of this thinking, off this road. The hodos, the road, the path, that Jesus is on. The road that He has always been on. The road to the cross.

33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and *said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

Jesus, not missing a beat, responds. He looks and sees all eyes are upon Him and Peter. The disciples looking, thinking, wondering what will happen? Was Jesus wrong, hopefully it’s not true and Peter corrected Him. But it was not to be because is was not the truth. Jesus addresses them all, rebuking Peter. Telling Peter that your thoughts are the thoughts of Satan. That your wishes are that of the world. Your ideas are those that would find agreement with the Prince of the Air. And you must stop and you must be corrected. This wrong headedness is not part of my mission. So get out of my way. I am on the road and that road leads to the rugged blood-stained cross.

Get behind me all who think in a worldly way

Get behind me all who think that man’s ways are better than my ways

Get behind me all who deny what God has done and what He is doing.

Jesus’ rebuke is quick, succinct, and final. Jesus has pointed out that anything that points away from the road to the cross is of the devil. The God/Man has shown who He is by His actions and His teaching and Peter dared to question the ways of God. Essentially saying there must be another way. It can’t be link this.

Look at the prophecy in Isaiah 53, it clearly states what must happen, the rejection, the torture, all before the miraculous resurrection. Look at the prophetic Psalm 41:4-9 – how all will turn against Him. Look at the further prophecy of Isaiah 50:4-7. Everything pointing to the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15.

Psalm 41:4-9 (NASB)
4 As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me;
Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.”

5 My enemies speak evil against me,
“When will he die, and his name perish?”

6 And when he comes to see me, he speaks falsehood;
His heart gathers wickedness to itself;
When he goes outside, he tells it.

7 All who hate me whisper together against me;
Against me they devise my hurt, saying,

8 “A wicked thing is poured out upon him,
That when he lies down, he will not rise up again.”

9 Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
Who ate my bread,
Has lifted up his heel against me.

Isaiah 50:4-7 (NASB)
4 The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples,
That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.

5 The Lord God has opened My ear;
And I was not disobedient
Nor did I turn back.

6 I gave My back to those who strike Me,
And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard;
I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.

7 For the Lord God helps Me,
Therefore, I am not disgraced;
Therefore, I have set My face like flint,
And I know that I will not be ashamed.

Genesis 3:15 (NASB)
15 And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

All part of God’s holy plan. Get behind me if you think that there is another, better way.

34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.

Peter with his tail between his legs and Jesus continues teaching. It would not be unusual that there would be followers of this itinerant rabbi and his disciples. As we are aware, they are in and around towns of various sizes. And with these people around and with His disciples He calls them to Himself. He tells them what it looks like to follow Him. Not just walking along the road, watching the miracles, hearing the words. But to actually follow Him. To actually follow the Christ. The words of Jesus are like a razor, a sword, through the crowd.

Jesus tells them that they must deny themselves. To deny those things that they think are right. To deny those things that are not of God. Those things that they want to hold onto. The big sins and the little ones too. Jesus message was always one of repentance and turning back to God. That means that the way that seems right to man is in opposition to what God calls them to.

That they must put to death their worldly thinking and living and set themselves on God. That those things that they desire in opposition to God are those things that will lead them to eternal damnation. You must not feed those things that are not of God.

This verse that points to death.

And He then points them to the preferred method of killing of non-citizen criminals by the Romans, the stauros – the cross. This is the example. Hands and feet pierced by iron nails. Hanging affixed to pieces of wood until suffocation kills you. Jesus says that this is what you must do to follow Him. That their lives are not their own. They belong to God, whether they believe it or not.

This is not pointing to bearing through a minor irritation or a burden of some sort but to suffer for the name of Christ. To endure, to the end, for Him. To die to ones desires and look to Him. And submitting to His authority.

All told by Jesus in the shocking words of the cross. The imagery and the horror that it all points to.

35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?

Jesus’ teaching is so clear and precise. To die to self is to live. To go to the cross and die is to actually live. To follow Jesus instead of the world, instead of your own desires, is to find life eternal. This is the dichotomy, to try and save the life here only ends in death but to fix ones eyes on Christ (the bronze serpent) is to actually save your life.

Sin has brought death into the world and God is holy and righteous in condemning all sinners to death in hell. Jesus is pointing to Himself as the means of salvation, as the only means of salvation, and that to believe in Him as Lord and savior will lead to eternal life. That they will experience the resurrection also.

But to die without the fulfillment of the law in Him is to be eternally lost. To deny Him is to suffer forever.

Repent and believe the Gospel.

Repent and believe the good news.

Repent and turn to Jesus as your salvation, that is what He is saying. And to do this is to live in manner worthy of Him.

To follow and believe God’s inerrant word.

That to gain all that there is in world is to forfeit your life. Much like the rich young ruler. He outwardly followed the law, but inwardly there was no change. Trusting in the riches, the shiny objects of the world, live in any manner you want, is to die.

37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

How could the disciples and people there answer this question? What could they possibly say? What could one offer for their eternal life? Look at my good works, even though I have violated God’s holy law since birth? Look at Job 35:7 – what can you possible give to God that is not already His?

Job 35:7 (NASB)
7 “If you are righteous, what do you give to Him,
Or what does He receive from your hand?

Jesus wants them to see what was just said, that it is through denial of self and looking to Christ that one lives.

There is no way to buy your life through good works. It is only through the finished work of Christ on the cross and risen that one finds life.

38 For 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.”

Isaiah 52:7 (NASB)
7 How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

And bringing it around from His rhetorical question He warns the issue with denying Him. If you deny the one who fulfilled the law there is no hope left for you. For He is the one who completed the law that the people cannot complete. And therefore, to deny him is to find oneself under the judgment of the law.

This is the natural consequence of v35 where to lose ones life is to gain life eternal, however, to gain the life of the world is to suffer eternally. The man who has put his hope in the things of rust and moths will die a second death.

35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

The horror that will befall those who deny Christ. To stand before the judgment seat of God and to be denied. Resurrected to the corruptible body for the eternal punishment. Whoa to those who deny the God/Man.

The Transfiguration
1 And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

Jesus finishes, and although this is the beginning of chapter nine it should be considered the end of chapter 8. Looking to those who are around Him, and the disciples specifically, some will see the majesty of Christ, the son of man of Daniel 7:13-14, before they die.

This is a difficult passage. One recorded from the teaching of Peter by Mark. There are a number of theories, some think it points to the second coming, some think it points to the transfiguration (that John W will cover next week) and some think it points to the resurrection and the ascension. This latter one is that which I ascribe to.

One cannot help but think this is pointing to the risen Christ, the ascended Christ whom they saw. All but Judas, the one who betrayed Him. The miracle of the resurrection, the glorified Christ seen with the marks of the new covenant, and the ascension to His throne. These all point to power that is shown in Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 1:19-23), and they witnessed it. And Stephen saw Him there standing at the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:55-56).

Ephesians 1:19-23 (NASB)
19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might
20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,
23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Acts 7:55-56 (NASB)
55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;
56 and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

Let’s not kid ourselves. These passages have a lot of difficult things. Not to understand, but to hear. They are passages that deal not only with God’s plan but also the eternal consequences of finding yourself on the outside.

When Jesus says to Peter “get behind me Satan” it is a conviction of Peter’s will. He is thinking in worldly terms. He is desiring worldly outcomes. To save life, not to lose it. When Jesus says this to Peter he is convicting Peter, not Satan.

Sometimes, maybe all the time, we attribute the bad things we do/think to satan. Much like Adam and Eve we blame shift. We say things like, ‘the devil has been working on me’, ‘I’m under attack’, even ‘the devil made me do it.’ Don’t blame shift, we are responsible for our choices. And when I choose to sin it isn’t that I did it because I had no choice, I did it because I wanted to. In other words the devil didn’t make me, I made me.

Jesus is pointing to an issue that we have, just because God is merciful we think that He owes us mercy. When in reality God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy and He is totally just in doing so.

Looking at the scripture and saying this is God’s word and I don’t have the option of picking and choosing what I like.

To be found without Christ is to be lost eternally. To be judged eternally. To be punished eternally. All for the ephemeral nature of our earthly pleasures. To seek man’s ways instead of God’s. To say, “did God really say that? That can’t be true, this just feels right, God must be wrong.”

So many statements of self-denial in the scripture and many of us chose to live lives in direct opposition to this. Lives that seek our own enjoyments as the ultimate goal. Doing what makes us feel good. Seeking the next rush of dopamine.

And those that chose the world over Christ will be confronted with it in the end. The sum total of their choices to seek to live a life that sought to please themselves will be their undoing. It will be the reward that they receive. A reward of eternal separation and suffering. Hear and know that there is no party in hell. There is no time of being able to enjoy you favorite sins. It is the eternal and unending judgment of God’s wrath upon those who denied the Son. Those who denied the one who took on sin so that others would be saved.

The talk of denial of self, of losing one’s life, can be shocking and confusing. What does it all mean to deny oneself, to pick up a cross, to lose our life here?
Paul gives us the picture in a few places. Romans 11:36-12:2 is a good place to start. Paul points out in v36 that everything is of and by God. The key takeaway is that God has done all these things including saving sinful man. And he then uses the word ‘therefore’, or ‘I appeal to you, therefore’ in the beginning of v1. In other words, because of who God is and what God has done we should do what follows the ‘therefore’. And what do we find? That we are to present our bodies as living and holy sacrifices as a means of worship to our Creator.

Romans 11:36-12:2 (NASB)
36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
Dedicated Service
1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Living sacrifices, not dead on top of a burning pyre as a false sacrifice to a false god. But a living sacrifice to a living God. A life that points to God. A living sacrifice like the Israelites were called to be, when they were called to be a kingdom of priests. We are called to be living and holy sacrifices, set apart in comparison to the world. Living in a way that glorifies God. Living in a way that shows that our who are allegiance belongs to. One that says the things of the world are not all that there is. That this world is part of God’s creation and that God is who we belong to.

We can find in Romans 1 the opposite of what a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to God looks like. V21-23 it tells us that they exchanged His glory for that of the creation. And as a result God gave them over to degrading passions. V26-27 Women and men exchanging their natural functions for the unnatural. And since they denied God v28-32 tells us the consequences, how they not only do these things which lead to eternal death but they approve all who do the same.

What does a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable look like. In short, it is the opposite of Romans 1. It is a life that is saved by Christ, filled by the Holy Spirit, of seeking to be sanctified (made holy) more and more, and to suffer for Him. It is also found in Galatians 5:16-26 where we are told by Paul to live by the Spirit. Look at the list, the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16-26 (NASB)
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,
21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

This is what it looks like to be that living and holy sacrifice. To live as the ekklesia, the called out ones. The ones called by Christ to live through, by, and for Him. The fruit of the Spirit is what we should see evident in our lives.

Romans 12:2 tells us how we do that, by not conforming to the world but by renewing our minds. We seek to conform to God’s will by the guidance of the Holy Spirit which will always testify to Christ. Through Guidance in the word which is Truth given by God.

We seek these things through the means of grace, prayer, reading God’s word, communion, and baptism. Through these means we are renewing our minds and conforming to Christ. Putting the world’s desires behind us.

This is how we live a life as one that is a living and holy sacrifice, not as a boxer who beats the air or a runner who wins a perishable trophy but as those elect by God glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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