Monday, February 26, 2018

Sermon February 24-25, 2018

Title: Who do you say that I am?
Text: Mark 8:27-38

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.

Jesus asks the disciples:

“Who do people say that I am?” And then wants to know, “but who do you say that I am?”

And we know that the disciples say that the people think that Jesus is “John the Baptist; [some] say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”

And this all climaxes with Peter speaking for the disciples when he says,

“You are the Christ.”

Following this confession by Peter of who Jesus is we see Jesus begin to teach them everything he is now prepared to do.

Jesus says that the Son of Man:

Must suffer
Must be rejected – by the elders, chief priests and scribes
Must be killed
And after three days must rise from the dead

As the one who made confession for the disciples, Peter, didn't really understand Jesus and his work for the salvation of the world at this time as his rebuke of Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 16:22, makes clear:

“Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”

This is met by Jesus’ full rebuke, which is focused not on Peter the man – just as his confession of faith was not revealed by flesh and blood but revealed by the Father in Heaven so too Jesus’ rebuke is not focused on Peter the man - but on Satan - the deceiver and the father of lies.

“Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

To be opposed to Christ … is to be in harmony with the devil.

To lose your life in Christ … is to save it!

Jesus says …

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.


When Pastor William Sangster was told he was dying of progressive muscular atrophy, he made four resolutions and faithfully kept them:

1. I will never complain;
2. I will keep the home bright;
3. I will count my blessings;
4. I will try to turn it to gain.

W. Wiersbe, Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, p. 215.

If we compare what Christ faced to these four resolutions we see that:

1. The Christ must suffer – but he never complained.
2. He was rejected by the many, but remained the light of the world.
3. He gave his life in death and for that we are all blessed.
4. He was raised from the dead, so that his sacrifice is our gain.

To lose your life in Christ is to save it!


Many of you have probable been watching the Olympics. The Winter Games from South Korea- Skiing, Hockey, Snowboarding and figure skating. You might know of Scott Hamilton as he was the 1984 Gold Medalist is in the Olympics and World Figure Skating Hall of Fame and has been announcing the skating competition for the last 25 years. This year he was demoted as happens to TV personalities. He said he was disappointed and felt sorry for himself … for about 10 minutes.

What you might not know is that Scott is a cancer survivor and a Christian.
He has survived, testicular cancer and brain cancer. His mother died of brain cancer so he is and has been connected to the disease for many years. As a child he was sickly and had a problem that stunted his growth that couldn’t be diagnosed. He was in and out of hospitals and stumbled on skating as a fluke.


[In 1997, at a career high, Hamilton was forced to leave the ice to undergo chemotherapy for testicular cancer."What was about to happen really changed my life forever," he shares. He survived cancer. “What's my purpose now? What do I need to do?"

It was at that moment in his life that he met his wife, Tracie, who brought him to church. "She took me to a minister, a man named Ken Durham. And the first thing he said to me, which was extraordinary was, he goes, 'You have to understand that Christianity is a faith of history. These things actually happened.' And I go, 'OK, that's a good starting-off point.'"

Hamilton and Tracie married and had a son. But another hardship came his way when he discovered he had a brain tumor. [He struggled with telling his wife but when he did,] she took his hands and started to pray. "And it was in that moment I knew where I was going to put everything... my trust, my faith, everything." Hamilton called it the most powerful moment in his life.

Hamilton learned that he was born with the brain tumor, which inhibited his growth as a young child. "That was the mysterious illness I had that they never diagnosed, that got me into skating. I choose to look at that brain tumor as the greatest gift I could've gotten because it made everything else possible."

Looking back, he adds, "I understand that through a strong relationship with Jesus you can endure anything. I just learned that the only true disability in life is a bad attitude."

"God is there to guide you through the tough spots. God was there every single time, every single time."]

For many, though, this is not a cross they wish to bear. We hope to avoid trial and conflict. Following Jesus as example is good but suffering or being hated and despised on account of Christ … we all would like to take a pass.

It is a common battle that pastors have to face too by remaining faithful to their call ... and this can be unpopular at times.

Jesus had given the disciples a summary of His work and he now gives a summary of the demands of true discipleship. He does not show here how one becomes a disciple - through the working of the Holy Spirit by faith in Christ and by the washing of regeneration in the word through baptism; but, here Jesus tells us how we show the evidence of this gift of faith in Christ by denying self; taking up the cross we must bear; and by following him.

It can be summarized as this.

“If anyone wants to save his life, have the full enjoyment of this life and all that it may offer in this world, he will lose the true life in Christ the Savior. But if anyone will regard this life, the world and all it has to offer, as nothing, give it all up for the sake of Jesus and His Gospel, he will find the true life, the true joy and [true] happiness in Him.”

Popular commentary of the Bible P.E. Kretzmann NT Vol. 1 pg. 209

To lose your life in Christ is to save it!


Most recently Scott Hamilton’s brain tumor returned.

[Hamilton said he would never forget what his wife, Tracie, said to him during a pep talk: “Joy is not the lack of suffering or fear, it’s how you choose to handle the suffering and fear.” It finally hit him that it was true.

So when the tumor returned for an encore in 2016, Hamilton decided to react differently. There was no “why me?” anymore.

“I figured I needed to go through this with joy,” he said. “It was just a muscle I needed to build, like the muscles I built skating.”

The tumor was still relatively small, so Hamilton didn’t need to rush into surgery. He tried to tackle the problem differently: He stopped eating sugar, red meat and other things he considered bad for his body. He started eating organic food and drinking only coffee or water with high pH. He hit the treadmill and the weight room.

When Hamilton went back to the doctor several months later, he learned that his tumor hadn’t grown. During his next checkup, he heard even better news.

The tumor had shrunk, by about half. Hamilton choked up when describing what happened next.
“Have you ever had one shrink without treatment before?” he said he asked the doctor. “And the doctor said, ‘Nope, never.’”

Hamilton asked, “So how can you explain this?”

The doctor said, “God.”]

As we faithfully serve as God has called us and shine the light of Christ in our vocations we lose our life for Christ’s sake and the gospel and ultimately save our lives for eternity.

May our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, who has redeemed you, and called you through the power of the Holy Spirit to faith, complete this blessed good work in you now and forever!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!


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