Where do you Stand?

Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again”. [8:31] Jesus is the Messiah and as such the culmination of his life is His death on the cross and His resurrection three day later. Without the passion there is no Christianity. Without the pain and suffering, the humiliation and degradation of the coming days, Christianity would be nothing more than a fad. Only His suffering and rejection by the people would fulfill Gods requirements. Only His blood on the cross would be an acceptable offering for our sins, for the worlds sins. Only then could we be forgiven and washed clean in the blood of the lamb. Without that suffering then there is no rejection of sin, no price is paid without the blood, remember at this time and in the context of those days, there had to be a blood offering to expiate sin. Not like today where you simply ask forgiveness. I am sorry God please forgive me. In those days only, the high priest could go into the Holy of Holy’s and only on very specific days and times. Jesus delivered us from far more than just our sins when he died on the cross. Without that sacrifice there could be no resurrection and without the resurrection there would be no conquering of death and no eternal life. The entire sequence of event had to follow exactly as God planned it or else there was no point in any of it.

The passion is in fact the very bedrock on which all Christianity is built. For without it there is no redemption, no salvation, no grace, no eternal life, no God, just a pointless morality lesson, not even a very good one. I mean what’s the point love God, love your neighbor and get crucified, no thank you, I’ll have the Vegas package instead, give me booze and dancing girls till I die, after all there’s only one life to live and it’s too short to spend it worrying about a nonexistent afterlife. Right? No…not right and Jesus knew that. Now try to explain that to twelve men who have followed you for three years, have lived with you, would die for, will die for you. Explain to them that you will be tortured, defiled, and murdered, but that it was necessary for not just their salvation but the worlds salvation and that even though you will die, three days from now you will rise again conquering death and begin a new covenant with mankind. That no longer would death hold any terror for God’s children, that redemption, salvation, and grace were there for the asking and no longer was it necessary to buy your way into heaven, because the price had already been paid, once and for all. Not an easy thing to do, especially with those twelve guys. I don’t know if you noticed or not but some of them are pretty stubborn, especially Peter. It must be a fisherman thing, after all you have to be stubborn to go out day after day and throw your nets in the water with only a 50/50 chance of catching enough to feed your family much less make a living. So, I understand Peter’s reluctance. I truly feel for Peter because Jesus really rebukes him harder than anyone else except Judas and even then, I am not so sure it would be better to have never been born than to be compared to Satan. I’ll leave that up to you. “He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” [8-32-33] Poor Peter, compared to Satan.

Is Jesus really calling Peter, Satan or is he comparing his attitude to that of the Adversary. What Peter is voicing is the mind of the worldly and it’s not really Peters fault. All of the disciples, the Pharisee and people in general were expecting the Messiah to herald a worldly kingdom. That he would be a King of the line of David and a new era would start with his coming. He would right all wrongs and kick out the Romans. Judaism would conquer all and everyone would live happily ever after. They were in fact expecting a fairy tale ending. When Jesus told them, to get that happily ever after ending he would first have to die, well that did not sit too well with Peter. Unfortunately, when Peter rebuked Jesus he was putting himself in direct confrontation with Jesus, the same place that Satan is coming from. So, he got the same response. Jesus rebuked Peter because Satan had already tempted Jesus with this very thing in the wilderness. Jesus had already accepted the cross, for without the cross there can be no crown. I feel for him because I often find myself in that position. If you notice Jesus turned his back on Peter and addressed the disciples when he rebuked Peter. And that’s something we need to ask ourselves are we following Jesus or are we trying to lead? Do you say thy will be done Lord and then go ahead and do whatever it was you had in mind, anyways? Do you turn your back on Jesus? Do you find yourself rebuking God, maybe just a simple, that’s not the way it should be statement? That’s the problem with society today, we try to impose our worldly view on the divine and that places us in direct opposition to God, and we should not be surprised to be counted as one of Satan’s when we do. When we pray for things that are in direct opposition to God’s word we need to consider who we are actually praying too. Is it God or the other fella? Are you setting your mind on the divine or are you more concerned with the things of this world? “He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. [8:34]

We must die to selves, that has always been the message of this passage as well as my personal favorite Matthew 10:38 and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. That means that we have to focus on the bigger picture on what we should be for God and not what we think God should be for us. We have to stop the petty bickering and get with the program because I assure you Satan can see the big picture and he’s perfectly happy with society as it is. The world is full of Sodom and Gomorrah’s. They have become the norm rather than the exception. The term “Just Do It!” may just be a slogan for a shoe but it also seems to be the worlds new attitude. If it feels good, “Just Do It!” We are most comfortable in this world and that’s understandable it’s what we know, but people we are going to spend a lot more of eternity in the divine realm and Jesus tells us what’s needed to accomplish that. “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? [8:35-37] The harder you try to live your life for yourself the more certain that you will lose it. No matter how hard you work for yourself, no matter how much wealth you accumulate, no matter how badly you want it, you will lose it in the end. You ever here that saying, “He who dies with the most toys wins” Yes. Well Malcolm Forbes said it, but it would be more accurate from a non-Christian perspective to say, “He who dies with the most toys, still dies”. Yet, we do not have to fear that, if we live for Jesus and the Gospel as it is, not as we think it should be, we need never fear death. And Jesus is showing us the way, but it’s on His terms not ours. For we have nothing to offer, we are God’s creation, everything we have is owed to God in the first place. If we were to get everything we ever wanted but it costed us eternity, what good is it? What point is there to living for self only to die.

I would rather die and live eternally serving God, than live a thousand years serving myself. But that’s not what society tells us today, “Just Do It, the only way to happiness is to live for self, and don’t you even dare mention God or Jesus. Why? Do you think it’s a coincidence that these are societal norms at this time in history? Have you ever wondered why the current media and politics have become ashamed of Jesus? Why “Political Correctness” has become the rallying cry of the other side. “Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” [8:38] There are no coincidences, the world is the way it is because Satan has a free hand in it and we have free will. So where do you stand? Who do you follow? Do you stand with the media, are you ashamed of the Son of Man? Will you die for him, will you deny yourselves and follow him? Will you rebuke Jesus in the name of expediency, or will you follow where he leads? The choice is yours, as it always has been your choice. As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

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