Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Koodosh Eatho - Sermon / Homily on Mark 8:27-38

Who Do You Say I Am

by Jerry Goebel, One Family Outreach

Mark 8:27-38

[Mk 8:27] Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?” [28] They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.” [29] And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter *answered and *said to Him, “You are the Christ.” [30] And He warned them to tell no one about Him.

[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. [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.”

[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. [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? [37] “For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? [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.” (NAS)

Mark 8:27-28

[Mk 8:27] Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?” [28] They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.” (NAS)

“Who do people say that I am?”

All of us first come to Jesus by what someone else says, models, or perhaps writes. It might be a parent, a teacher or even a friend who tells us the first words of everlasting life. Yet ultimately, we cannot rely on the faith or experience of others to provide for us a relationship with Christ. Ultimately, faith breaks down to the very individual question; “Who do you say I am?”

As Jesus prepared his disciples for the “ultimate question,” he asked them a preparatory question based on the experience of others; “Who do people say that I am?”

The answer given to Jesus shows three things:

1. The disciples really had been listening to what the people were saying;

2. The people had no clue who Jesus was and the disciples themselves were confused;

3. The disciples were only going to share the “good” stuff with Jesus, they seemed to have left out the “bad stuff” that was being said as well (many religious leaders had been calling Jesus Beelzebub or his servant).

It is not unusual that the people who had witnessed Jesus from a distance were confused about his role. He had broken upon the public scene by casting out demons, feeding the poor, healing the sick and crippled, and “preaching with authority.” Yet, like many of us, the people had quit believing that the really good news could happen in their lifetime.

So, instead of daring to call him Messiah—they thought:

1.He might be a prophet as foretold in the writings of Moses in Deuteronomy:

Deuteronomy 18:18

[Deut 18:18] “I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” (NAS)

2.They thought he might be the great prophet Elijah returned to earth [1 Kings 17-21 and 2 Kings 1-2]; for Elijah never died—he was lifted into the heavens in a whirlwind

II Kings 2:11

[II Kings 2:11] As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. (NIV)

3.Or, they thought—because of his incredible preaching—that Jesus must be John the Baptist returned from the dead and restored to health.

They could believe just about anything except that Jesus was actually the Messiah.

Many of us are like these people in so many respects. We believe in God—we might even believe in a loving God—but we fall short of believing that God would actually love us!

It is hard for us to grasp that the promise of fulfillment and joy promised in the Old and New Testaments could become fruitful and fulfilled in our lives. Many of us don’t believe that we can claim God’s power, his healing, and the fruits of His spirit. As a result, those fruits go un-tasted in our lives.

Yet, the Messiah was indeed among these people. All the prophecies and signs pointed right to Jesus and yet, these people missed him in the same way that a man might neglect a “dangerous curve ahead” sign on a windy highway and plow right over the embankment. Let’s not make the same mistake. Jesus is among us through his Holy Spirit and his power is vibrantly within our touch. We need to move beyond wondering, “Who people said he was,” and into, “Who he can be in our lives.”

We need to quit denying him and start applying him for we will not know the depth of his promises until we stand upon them!

Mark 8:29

[29] And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter *answered and *said to Him, “You are the Christ.” (NAS)

“But who do you say that I am?”

Finally Jesus asks his disciples the ultimate question and he expects an ultimate answer, an answer that cannot be responded to through the expressions of any others. Jesus asks the Apostles for their personal response, their own personal reply. He wants an, “I say…” not a, “Some say…”

This is our situation too. Christ will accept no second-hand testimony from us, no “hearsay.” Quotes from books and the platitudes of others, the beliefs of our parents or the fact that we attend church or hang around people who act “Christian,” none of that makes a difference because Jesus seeks nothing less than our personal response to his query:

“Who do YOU say I am?”

No other question will ever be as important to us as this one question:

“Who do YOU say I am?”

Each of us must weight the message personally and decide for ourselves whether heaven is attaining our nirvana (state of perfection) or entering into an intimate relationship with the one, holy, God, through the gift of His Son. Each of us must decide if this humble carpenter (who lived for a mere thirty-three years) and yet upset the sensibilities of the whole world is who he claims to be or a very convincing liar.

“Who do YOU say I am?”

Each of us must decide if God’s gift—his only begotten Son—was necessary for us to enter into heaven or just a nice gesture. Yet, what kind of father would give away his only child if there were any other way, any other possibility? If we could make it on our own, God’s sacrifice of Jesus would serve to be the cruelest act of a most vain god. That is what we are left with if we believe that Jesus was not insane.

“Who do YOU say I am?”

It is not just a question of salvation; it is a question of present and unfathomable joy. If we say that Jesus is “the Christ” then we must move aside from the throne of our own life and let him rule. If he was the greatest offering of love that could be given to humanity, then we must embrace that love and live each day in the knowledge of just how much God loves us:

“Who do YOU say I am?”

John 3:16-17

[John 3:16] “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. [17] “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” (NAS)

“Who do YOU say I am?”

“You are the Christ.”

Finally, it was stated. Across the generations, for thousands of years, the name of the Anointed One [GSN5547 Christos] had been standing in the wings. The Anointed, the Messiah, the Christ! In truth, this Name had awaited its proclamation by man since the first breath of Creation:

John 1:1-4

[John 1:1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] He was in the beginning with God. [3] All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. [4] In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. (NAS)

Before God created man, God created salvation to win back the hearts of those who had fallen. And the name of salvation is Jesus the Anointed, the Messiah, the Christ!

Biblically, the act of anointing goes back to Aaron and his descendents who were designated by God to be his holy priests:

Exodus 28:41

[Exod 28:41] “And you shall put them on Aaron your brother and on his sons with him; and you shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve Me as priests.” (NAS)

Any person who was assigned a mission by God was anointed with special oil. This also applied to any material objects that were to be used solely for God’s purposes.

Exodus 40:9-15

[Exod 40:9] “Then you shall take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and shall consecrate it and all its furnishings; and it shall be holy. [10] “And you shall anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar; and the altar shall be most holy. [11] “And you shall anoint the laver and its stand, and consecrate it. [12] “Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the doorway of the tent of meeting and wash them with water. [13] “And you shall put the holy garments on Aaron and anoint him and consecrate him, that he may minister as a priest to Me. [14] “And you shall bring his sons and put tunics on them; [15] “And you shall anoint them even as you have anointed their father, that they may minister as priests to Me; and their anointing shall qualify them for a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations.” (NAS)

Anointing was reserved for people or objects that were consecrated [6942 qadash], which means to be pronounced or observed as ceremonially or morally clean. Consecration served to set apart, proclaim, purify, and sanctify an item or a person for a holy task.

Kings had been anointed, prophets and priests as well, all were consecrated for an ordained purpose. Yet, only one person in all of history would be anointed the Christ, the Messiah. And that was Jesus. Only Jesus was to be proclaimed the Christ, the Holy One of Israel.

Luke 1:30-33

[Luke 1:30] And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. [31] “And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. [32] “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; [33] and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end.” (NAS)

John 6:68-69

[John 6:68] Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. [69] “And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” (NAS)

And, what is the Gift of this Holy One of God; the Anointed of all time?

I John 4:15-18

[I Jn 4:15] Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. [16] And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. [17 By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.

[18] There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (NAS)

The gift of the Christ is none less than pure access to God; to stand blameless at the judgment and know perfected love. This was the gift of the Blessed One. This is the inheritance that the rightful heir of salvation passes on to all who “believe and love” in his name (character).

I John 5:1-2

[I Jn 5:1] Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and whoever loves the Father loves the {child} born of Him. [2] By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. (NAS)

Whoever believes, whoever loves, becomes a child of God. Love incomparable, love indescribable, love immeasurable; that is the blessing of the Appointed One of God.

Mark 8:30-31

[30] And He warned them to tell no one about Him.

[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.

He warned them to tell no one about Him

We frequently see Jesus warning people not to tell others about their healing; but—in this instance—Jesus tells the Apostles not to talk to others about their revelation. There is a marked difference. He told people to not talk about their healings because he didn’t want throngs of people seeking him for merely external purposes and thereby overriding his singular mission on earth. Such followers—when they appeared—saw Jesus only as a spectacle and his purpose was ignored and unheard by them. Look at this example from the first chapter of Mark:

Mark 1:44-45

[Mark 1:44] And He said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.” [45] But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news about, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere. (NAS)

So we can see our Lord’s purpose in trying to silence those whom he healed; but why would he silence those who had just discovered the truth about Jesus’ Messiahship? Jesus not only censured them; he castigated them forcefully! Mark uses the word “epitimao” [GSN2008] meaning to rebuke or admonish. Let’s look at two possible causes for Jesus’ emphatic rebuke:

1. They were so new to their revelation that they did not have the intimate knowledge of Jesus’ mission to back up their emotions. They still sought a conquering king not a suffering servant right up to the resurrection of Jesus.

2. Another reason becomes evident if we look at a reading from Mark 9. Here we see that the disciples were making personal statements about Jesus from the biases of their head and not by the grace of the Holy Spirit. As a result, they saw Jesus completely wrong:

Mark 9:9-10

[Mark 9:9] And as they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man should rise from the dead. [10] And they seized upon that statement, discussing with one another what rising from the dead might mean. (NAS)

Jesus knew that the proof of his claim was only a short time away. He was on the cusp of turning towards Jerusalem for the final time; his teaching was almost over. Very soon, the disciples would not just be able to say what they felt; but they would be able to testify to what they had seen and experienced. “Jesus was the Messiah. He was put to death and rose from the dead.”

Acts 2:22-36

[Acts 2:22] “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—[23] this {Man} delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put {Him} to death. [24] “And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. [25] “For David says of Him, ‘I was always beholding the Lord in my presence; for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken’”

[26] ‘Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will abide in hope; [27] Because Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay. [28] ‘Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; Thou wilt make me full of gladness with Thy presence.’”

[29] “Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. [30] “And so, because he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat {one} of his descendants upon his throne, [31] he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. [32] “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.”

[33] “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. [34] “For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, [35] Until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.’”

[36] “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” (NAS)

Is it possible that we can also run off making statements about God based upon our biases or head knowledge and not based upon the verified movement of the Holy Spirit? I fear that this is all too easy, perhaps even one of our greatest temptations. We ascribe our issues to Jesus, we project our prejudices upon him, we make him out to say what we want to hear pronounced. It is a discipline to learn to speak in the Spirit and not from human emotion. The result is that far too much damage is done when we don’t hold our thoughts until they are verified by prayer, fruits of the Spirit and the support of community.

I am trying to learn that when something pops in my mind that I should hold that thought and see if it becomes more concrete or just wisps away like vapor. If it is from the Holy Spirit, I find my words and thoughts becoming more concrete and almost like a flame that I cannot contain. My thoughts and feelings are too deceptive, but if I am supposed to say something, God will cleanse my mind and words to his purpose:

Isaiah 6:5-7

[Isa 6:5] Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

[6] Then one of the seraphim flew to me, with a burning coal in his hand which he had taken from the altar with tongs. [7] And he touched my mouth {with it} and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven.” (NAS)

We need to let the Holy Spirit affirm our words and then coax them out—almost reticently—from the depth of our being and not just the top of our heads.

The Son of Man must suffer

The word “suffer” is one of the most important concepts in the bible, both in the Old and New Testaments. In fact, we simply cannot understand Jesus if we do not understand suffering.

We suffer in this world because we have broken communion with God. In fact, the surest sign that we are distant from God is that we are too comfortable. For it is impossible for a truly Godly person to be unaware of the effects of sin in this broken world around us. We would have to purposely close our eyes to injustice, which is known as a Sin of Omission. It is the sin of Dives, the rich man, who walked by Lazarus everyday as the beggar suffered at the rich man’s gate [Luke 16:20-31]. Truly the greatest sin to God was the sin of leaders (political and religious) who slept in comfort while widows and children slept in poverty.

Yet the Christian’s suffering is always tempered by the foreknowledge of hope; we live in the expectation that we are suffering the pains of new birth in Christ:

Romans 8:17-28

[Ro 8:17] And if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

[18] For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. [19] For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. [20] For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope [21] that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. [22] For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. [23] And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. [24] For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? [25] But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

[26] In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; [27] and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

[28] And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (NAS)

Our suffering is not the mindless thrashing of a world drowning in hopelessness. Our suffering is identified instead by a word that is at the root of Christian growth; endurance:

II Timothy 2:11-12

[2Ti 2:11] It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; [12] If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us. (NAS)

This word, endure [GSN5278 hupomeno] is liberally sprinkled throughout the letters to the churches, used by nearly every writer. Indeed, one could legitimately say it was the theme of the early Church. They did not suffer; they endured hardship for the promise of salvation was already given them by the Christ.

Where is perseverance today? On one hand, I see much suffering among the most vulnerable today. A sense of helplessness, a sense of systemic abuse, a cry of advocacy and a sense of being forgotten by the very people who claim the compassionate one as their Lord (see Matthew 25:41-44).

On the other side, I see churches jacked up on emotional highs as if the Kingdom had already come. Who will stand in that gap? Who will stand between the hopeless suffering of the vulnerable and the elevated merriment of the comfortable?

Romans 12:15-16

We are called and ordained for this purpose to: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.”

That call is the biblical cry of persevering justice and enduring righteousness (which means to “make things right in God’s eyes”).

Yet we can persevere (suffer with purpose) because someone already suffered the greatest agony on our behalf. That one was the Paschal Lamb, the Suffering Servant. Indeed, the very word Mark uses in this verse—“for the Son of Man must suffer”—is Pascho [GSN3958]. It is the word from which we get pathos, tragedy, passion (in the sense of agony—as in the agony or passion of Jesus in the Garden of Olives).

Jesus was the Paschal Lamb, the blood sacrifice given for our sins. He suffered so that we could persevere. He took our agony; experienced our hell (total separation from God) that we might have the option of salvation rather than the condemnation of sin.

This is what was ordained. Jesus knew it. It was neither cloudy nor confusing to him that he would be rejected, abandoned, betrayed, and murdered by the very ones he was called to save. It had been exclaimed by God’s ordained prophets and written in tears and toil by the Psalmists, the Messiah is the paschal (suffering) servant of God.

Isaiah 42:1-9

1 “Behold, My servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one {in whom} My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. 2 “He will not cry out or raise {His voice,} nor make His voice heard in the street.

3 “A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. 4 “He will not be disheartened or crushed, until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.”

5 Thus says God the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and its offspring, who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk in it, 6 “I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, and I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations,

7 To open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, and those who dwell in darkness from the prison. 8 “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images.

9 “Behold, the former things have come to pass, now I declare new things; before they spring forth I proclaim {them} to you.” (NAS)

Isaiah 49:1-6

1 Listen to me, O islands, and pay attention, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me from the womb; from the body of My mother He named me. 2 And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand He has concealed me, and He has also made me a select arrow; He has hidden me in His quiver.

3 And He said to me, “You are My servant, Israel, in whom I will show My glory.” 4 But I said, “I have toiled in vain, I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely the justice {due} to me is with the LORD, and My reward with My God.”

5 And now says the LORD, who formed me from the womb to be His servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, in order that Israel might be gathered to Him (for I am honored in the sight of the LORD, and My God is My strength), 6 He says, “It is too small a thing that you should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make you a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (NAS)

Isaiah 50:4-9

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 shall not be ashamed.

8 He who vindicates me is near; who will contend with me? Let us stand up to each other; who has a case against me? Let him draw near to me. 9 Behold, the Lord GOD helps me; who is he who condemns me? Behold, they will all wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them. (NAS)

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

13 Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted. 14 Just as many were astonished at you, {My people,} so His appearance was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.

15 Thus He will sprinkle many nations, kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; for what had not been told them they will see, and what they had not heard they will understand.

Chapter 53

1 Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no {stately} form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

3 He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely our grief’s He himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being {fell} upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. 6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.

7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke {was due?}

9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. 10 But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting {Him} to grief; if He would render himself {as} a guilt offering, He will see {His} offspring, He will prolong {His} days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see {it} and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors. (NAS)

Even the last words and moments of Jesus had been proclaimed a thousand years before they were uttered on a splintered cross board on a hill overlooking Jerusalem.

Psalm 22:1-31

1 My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. 2 O my God, I cry by day, but Thou dost not answer; and by night, but I have no rest.

3 Yet Thou art holy, O Thou who art enthroned upon the praises of Israel. 4 In Thee our fathers trusted; they trusted, and Thou didst deliver them.

5 To Thee they cried out, and were delivered; in Thee they trusted, and were not disappointed. 6 But I am a worm, and not a man, a reproach of men, and despised by the people.

7 All who see me sneer at me; they separate with the lip, they wag the head, {saying,} 8 “Commit {yourself} to the LORD; let Him deliver him; let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.”

9 Yet Thou art He who didst bring me forth from the womb; Thou didst make me trust {when} upon my mother’s breasts. 10 Upon Thee I was cast from birth; Thou hast been my God from my mother’s womb.

11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near; for there is none to help. 12 Many bulls have surrounded me; strong {bulls} of Bashan have encircled me.

13 They open wide their mouth at me, as a ravening and a roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it is melted within me.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and Thou dost lay me in the dust of death. 16 For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet.

17 I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; 18 They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

19 But Thou, O LORD, be not far off; O Thou my help, hasten to my assistance. 20 Deliver my soul from the sword, My only {life} from the power of the dog.

21 Save me from the lion’s mouth; and from the horns of the wild oxen Thou dost answer me. 22 I will tell of Thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise Thee.

23 You who fear the LORD, praise Him; all you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, and stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel. 24 For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither has He hidden His face from him; but when he cried to Him for help, He heard.

25 From Thee {comes} my praise in the great assembly; I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him. 26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek Him will praise the LORD. Let your heart live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will worship before Thee. 28 For the kingdom is the LORD’S, and He rules over the nations.

29 All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship, all those who go down to the dust will bow before Him, even he who cannot keep his soul alive. 30 Posterity will serve Him; it will be told of the LORD to the {coming} generation.

31 They will come and will declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has performed {it.} (NAS)

All of these readings pointed to one thing: “The Son of Man must suffer…”

From the beginning of creation, God knew (and therefore Jesus knew) what role the Son would play in eternity. He knew that, given free will, we would sin. He knew that the wage of sin is death. Yet he created us anyway because his love was simply that expansive. We were not created to fail, we were created for salvation and our salvation is dependent on the One who suffered willingly for our sins.

Mark 8:32-33

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

Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him

It is not hard to understand Peter; he is just like most of us. We think we have a handle on the eternal and want to take over for God. Then, we fail miserably…

1. Jesus walks on water, so Peter expects to do the same thing on his own power (and fails miserably until the Lord picks him up);

2. During the transfiguration, Peter thinks he is fit to advise Moses, Elijah, and Jesus (and then cowers before the presence of God like an “animal digging into the dirt”);

3. When the Lord states that Peter will deny him three times, Peter says, “Never!” (And then he does it).

4. When the Lord lowers a sheet with food (that is unclean to a Jew) and commands Peter to eat it, Peter tells the Lord, “Never!” (And then eats it).

5. In this reading, Peter considers himself worthy of “rebuking” Jesus to dissuade the Lord from his ordained role as the “paschal” sacrifice.

Which Peter am I—today?

1. Am I the one who thinks he can do the miraculous without God’s help?

2. Am I the one who catches a brief glimpse of God’s glory and wants to keep it to myself?

3. Am I the one who thinks I am too strong to fall without Christ’s assistance?

4. Am I the one who won’t break with my own habits and traditions to include others?

5. Am I the one who refuses to follow Jesus into tough circumstances? Into sacrifice? Into the toughest parts of discipleship where the world might even be hostile to God’s plan?

Which Peter am I today?

It’s quite possible that—by the end of the day—I will probably have had the opportunity to play every role of Peter and to fail on every account.

Yet what is most important about Peter (and how we should be most like him) is that Peter is like a “boomerang for Jesus.” He never quits coming back, even when it is hardest and most embarrassing. Look at this incredible interchange between Boomerang Peter and the Lord after the Christ’s resurrection:

John 21:15-17

[John 21:15] So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, {son} of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.”

[16] He said to him again a second time, “Simon, {son} of John, do you love me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.”

[17] He said to him the third time, “Simon, {son} of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “tend My sheep.” (NAS)

There are so many subtleties to this story but that is for another time. What we do need to look at in this passage is how hard it must have been for Peter to be questioned and probed so deeply by Jesus. Jesus was reminding Peter of his pride and folly—but only to reveal to Peter the depth of our Lord’s love.

Yes, Peter failed. But Peter returned, Peter kept trying, and Jesus knew that Peter wouldn’t quit trying—while he also knew that Peter would fail again… and yet, again.

Thus, Christ commissions Peter with an unimaginable challenge and responsibility:

John 21:18-19

John 21:18] “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself, and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to {go.”}

[19] Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow me!” (NAS)

Peter carried out that charge. Failing again at times—but always “boomeranging” to serve the Lord and the infant church. Traditional tells us that Peter was crucified upside down in Rome, while first being forced to watch his wife Miriam’s crucifixion for two days. It is said that all the time that she was dying, he was chained to a nearby post and his greatest encouragement was to cry out, “Remember the Lord.”

Here is the Rock that Jesus planted. Here is a man that the church depended upon because of his passion to follow Christ—even to his own cross.

However, we must add one last caveat. Even as he receives this valiant commission, Peter is already blowing it again:

John 21:20-22

[John 21:20] Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following {them;} the one who also had leaned back on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” [21] Peter therefore seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?”

[22] Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what {is that} to you? You follow Me!” (NAS)

Once again Jesus rebukes Peter, the Peter who failed, the Peter who tries again: Boomerang Peter. “It’s not YOUR concern what others do—YOU follow me!”

Did Jesus state this with a smile hiding just behind the sternness of his command? Did he think; “Peter—my rock and my rockhead?”

We must also remember that here is a man who wouldn’t lie. The Gospel that we have from Mark—a gospel that became the bedrock of both Matthew and Luke—is a gospel from Peter’s own lips to Mark’s youthful ears. Peter didn’t sugar coat his failures. He wanted Mark to tell the world that Christ was perfect while Peter was not.

Most of us have a résumé that focuses on our strengths and points away from our weaknesses. Peter wanted the world to clearly hear; “I was head-strong, weak, and hindered my Lord at every turn; yet, Jesus loved me through all that to make me the man that I am today.”

Now, that’s the type of preaching people need to hear from the pulpit! So, which Peter am I—today? The belligerent Peter advising God? The weak Peter hiding in the courtyard? The terrified Peter wallowing in self-pity by the dung-heap? Or, am I ready to be the Peter who leads by sheer honesty, returning to the Lord each time he fails, yet unafraid to admit: “Christ perfected me in spite of my inadequacy.”

“Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

Could any words have ever cut a heart as deep as this sentence publicly spoken by Jesus to the man who would become “the rock of the church?”

The accusation is that Peter has set his mind [GSN5426 phroneo] or “placed his affections” on the comforts of this world. How can we, as humans, blame him? This was just after the conclusion of the public ministry of Jesus. Our Lord had taken his closest disciples aside for final teaching and preparation. They basically “had him to themselves” for a brief, but precious moment in time. And, Peter didn’t want to give that up.

How often do we see that in our churches too? “This is my pew.” “This is the way we worship.” “We don’t want those people in our congregation.”

Don’t we like to keep God to ourselves as well?

Yet, the words of Jesus could not in any terms be more condemning. The part that wants to keep Jesus to ourselves, the part that wants to keep others out, the part that doesn’t want to reach out to the vulnerable and welcome them in—that is no less than Satan alive in us!

Could the words be stronger? Not likely!

Jesus doesn’t call Pontius, Satan. He doesn’t call Herod, Satan (a fox maybe—but not Satan). Jesus doesn’t call Caiaphas or Annas (the high priests), Satan. He calls one of his own Apostles, Satan.

One of his closest! One of his most faithful! One of his strongest! The very one to whom was given the words pronouncing Jesus as Messiah. That is the one whom Jesus is calls; “Satan!”

It is plain to see that whenever followers place their own needs or comforts first, or whenever we desire to keep Christ to ourselves and not give him as freely to others as he gave himself to us, then we too run the risk of the greatest condemnation. “Get thee behind me, Satan.”

Let us never put ourselves in front of Jesus or in between Jesus and those he has died for lest we too hear the words of eternal terror: “Get thee behind me, Satan.”

Mark 8:34-35

[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. [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. (NAS)

“He must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me”

There could be no harder words for a worldly person to understand than these words of absolute self-denial. To know Jesus, one has to deny [GSN533 aparneomai] self and instead lift up [GSN142 airo] the cross: The lowest form of criminal death known to the people of Jesus’ time. Jesus tells us that the “self” must die a humiliating death in order for us to fully know him.

And the cross! The apostles must have been stunned. We, modern Christians, have a reference point to discuss “the cross”; we’ve been steeped in it, we’ve heard it preached in our congregations and wear the symbol around our necks like it is an adornment. However, the poor apostles had no reference to the cross save one:

Deuteronomy 21:22-23

[22] “And if a man has committed a sin worthy of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, [23] his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance. (NAS)

It was a horrible reference; a reference that anyone who died on the cross (on the tree) was accursed by God. How could this be the banner and the mission that Jesus was pointing them towards?

To us it would be like saying that we must be so willing to testify to Christ that we would be willing to be hanged or serve a life sentence for our witness. Indeed, I have grown cautious of the gravity of the word “witness” ever since I learned that the root word of witness and testimony is martyr [GSN3141 marturia]. It means to be willing to die for one’s testimony. Of course, this was something all of the twelve were willing to do. They all did eventually die horrible deaths or live out lives in forced exile.

Our faith calls us daily to leave behind patterns of selfishness and even prudence. It calls us to radical obedience that may lead to a loss of prestige, job, and income and yes, even our lives. Throughout the ages and most predominantly in our world today; Christian witnesses (martyrs) who have taken their roles as advocates for Christ in the form of the vulnerable have lost all of these worldly things in their service of God.

In fact—in light of what Jesus said—we should be most concerned if our faith is not tested, if our lives and beliefs are not questioned or our hearts devoid of passion for those denied justice.

In these days, as in Christ’s days, the time for pleasant conversation about the subtleties of religious doctrines is not an option to us. Injustice is entrenched in many of our institutions; ideologies about the poor have usurped compassion and Satan is stealing every soul he can get his claws into. This is a time when Christ calls every proclaiming believer to; “Deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”

Whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

This revolutionary statement turns all of modern psychology and most of our religions completely on their ear. Joy, Christ tells us, is not to be found in self-service, self-searching, or self-focus. No, our Lord reveals joy is found in self-sacrifice for a heavenly purpose: “to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God [Micah 6:8].”

How antithetical to the gurus of our pop culture who speak about “happiness through ‘having more,’” or even the pseudo-eastern philosophy that peace is found through diminishing turmoil and that inner stillness is a life ideal. Is that where the lives of prophets, apostles and martyrs end up? Is “nirvana” and “personal harmony” a worthy goal of a follower of Christ? Not if I read this statement of Christ correctly. If I have any sense of Christ’s statement there is no “me” at the center of salvation; there is only Jesus and the “Good News.”

Drawing close to Christ means; “I must decrease and he must increase [John 3:30].” It means “less me and more him”; until it is finally “no me and all him.” Then, I will know the inner truth about salvation; the joy of absolute service, of absolutely being able to give myself away, the joy of loving God recklessly and loving my neighbor radically.

There are five terms that will help us better focus on the meaning of this critical phrase in the Christian belief:

1. “If anyone wishes”

The term “to wish” [GSN2309 thelo] has a sort of happenstance quality to it that is out-of-place in the context of this statement. Far more appropriate are the terms “to desire” or “to will” than “to wish.” Following Christ is not a whim; it is a determination. Are we willing—even, do we desire—to have our inner most pride and sin crucified for the sake of Jesus and his Good News?

2. “Whoever loses”

To lose [GSN622 apollumi] one’s life is much less intimidating than the predominant uses of this term. Apollumi [GSN622] is translated as “to lose” ten times in the KJV. Alternatively, it is translated as “to utterly destroy” seventeen times and “to perish” fourteen times. The implication is not of one who sort of wanders away from his sensibilities one morning. Rather, it is more like a determined person who intentionally sets out on a course that will more than likely cost him everything.

3. “His life”

Christ was talking about even more than giving up our lives [GSN5590. psuche]; he wanted us to give him our hearts, souls, and minds. That’s the fullest meaning of this word. A Christian may never be called to physically give his life for Christ; but we are always called upon to give our hearts, souls, and minds to him. Paul tells us in 1st Corinthians 13 that one could even give his life for the poor, but; “[1 Cor 13:3] If I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”

God wants our love, passion, and thoughts—our hearts, souls, and minds. Does that sound like a “weekend commitment?” How much of our faith makes it even out of the parking lot on Sunday morning? How many of us are so enamored by the call of Christ to the Gospel that we leave worship Sunday morning and find ourselves in service Sunday night?

4. “For My sake and the gospel’s”

For My sake [NT:1752a Heneka] means “because of me” or “on account of me.” Jesus tells us that if we lose our life because we stand for him then we will gain the eternal prize. However, he also tells us that if we lose our lives on account of the gospel [NT:2098 Euaggelion] we will gain complete intimacy with the Father.

It is not an either/or; either be ready and willing to die for Jesus or for the gospel that he proclaimed. It is an “and”; be ready and willing to die for Jesus and the gospel that he proclaimed. We give our lives to Jesus and we give our lives to the gospel. However, the gospel that Jesus professed was not just sitting in a church and listening to someone preach comforting news to us. It does not even mean going out and thumping on people’s foreheads with a twelve-pound, gold-embossed, study bible. Jesus was very specific about how he wanted the good news to be preached:

Luke 4:18-19

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of our Lord.”

Repeatedly, we find that Jesus tells us that we cannot be comfortable just using his name like a prayer mantra or putting a fish symbol on the back of our Hummer. No, to be a follower of Christ means that the poor call us Good News.

5. “Will save it”

To save [GSN4982 sozo] is to be brought safely through trials, to be restored means to be brought to full restoration after being victimized or returned to our people after being kidnapped. One interpretation of salvation even likens it to a pony released in a ripened pasture.

To the Follower of Christ, salvation is all that and more. It is restoration, wholeness, and the delight of fresh pastures at the end of great trials. Yet, above all else, it is relationship: To be one with God and to set injustice right for those wronged. These concepts are some of the oldest beliefs in our bible. It is the bias of God!

The Follower of Christ purposely sets off in a direction that may cost him his life—but that matters not—for he’s already given his heart. Death is a small consequence to someone who loves extravagantly, it is living outside of that passion, which to the beloved, is worse than death.

Mark 8:36-37

[36] “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? [37] “For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

What does it profit?

This begs an interesting question for each of us. Not just, “What does it profit?” But, “What is profit [GSN5623 opheleo] to a Follower of the Way?” Or, “What would we give in exchange for our soul (again the word is psuche [GSN5590]?”

Unfortunately the erosion of a person’s life is rarely a singular decision. It is a series of choices, each one paving the way for increasing distance from God over time. Sin creeps into life until one day, what was once obviously wrong, is now viewed as a slight oversight or minor indiscretion. The line of good and evil becomes a faded grey and wrong becomes relatively correct “given the circumstances.” This is how most souls are given away. We fall asleep at the castle gate and wake to find new guards around us: the wrong guards, the other guy’s guards, and we’re caught wondering; “How in the world did we get here?”

Mark 8:38

[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.” (NAS)

Ashamed of Me

Ashamed [GSN1870 epaischunomai] is a vivid word in Greek. It has two roots [GSN1909 epi] and [GSN153 aischunomai] which literally mean to be appallingly embarrassed by a disfigurement. To be ashamed of Christ is an especially poignant sin given the disfigurement, public abuse, and the mockery Jesus went through for us.

Matthew seems to have the most vivid remembrance of the words of Christ in this instance:

Matt 10:32-40

[Matt 10:32] “Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. [33] “But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”

[34] “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. [35] “For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; [36] and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.”

[37] “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. [38] “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”

[39] “He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it. [40] “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” (NAS)

In a world where we are cautioned, “don’t speak about politics or religion,” these words of Christ can cause a great deal of discomfort. For this reading basically states, “If we don’t speak of Christ, he won’t speak of us.” To confess [GSN3670 homologeo] Christ, is to publicly acknowledge him (like a homily or a sermon). It means that “one man speaks out” or to “speak with a singular focus.” We know that the singular focus of Jesus was to restore us to our loving Father. Do we speak with focused singularity—whether or not anyone else agrees with us? Will we stand in court and argue the dignity of the most forgotten child even when the rest of the world condemns him or her? That’s what Jesus does for us through the Holy Spirit.

Many churches consider evangelism (being the Gospel to the poor) as an option—or a yearly drive to recruit new members or bring back old ones. However, that has little (if anything) to do with real evangelism. Evangelism [GSN2097 euaggelizo] means to “announce the good news,” to “declare grand tidings,” to be “an angel in the streets,” or to “be an official representative of the king carrying his message throughout his kingdom.” The messenger doesn’t adapt the king’s message just because the town folk don’t like it. He is not responsible to them; he is responsible to the king.

These were the tasks that were at the heart of what Jesus was called to the earth to do:

Mark 1:38

[38] And He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, in order that I may preach there also; for that is what I came out for.” (NAS)

Luke 4:18

[18] “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden. (NAS)

And it is at the heart of what Jesus sends us out to do:

Matthew 10:7-8

[7] “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ [8] “Heal {the} sick, raise {the} dead, cleanse {the} lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give.” (NAS)

Mark 3:14-15

[14] And He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach, [15] and to have authority to cast out the demons. (NAS)

Mark 16:15-18

[15] And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. [16] “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. [17] “And these signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; [18] they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly {poison,} it shall not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (NAS)

Preaching the Gospel—Evangelizing—is neither optional nor seasonal; it is fundamental to the heart of our relationship with God. We “are not allowed” to either keep the Good News to ourselves or change the King’s message to appeal to the crowd.

2 Timothy 4:3-5

[3] For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but {wanting} to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; [4] and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths. [5] But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (NAS)

We are commissioned—yes, even ordained—to speak the Good News of Christ “in season and out” (meaning when it feels comfortable and when it doesn’t).

2 Timothy 4:1-2

[1] I solemnly charge {you} in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: [2] preach the word; be ready in season {and} out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. (NAS)

However this is not necessarily a commission to stand on street corners and harass passer’s-by. This is a commission to make the Gospel a living, breathing, part of all of our relationships, the core of who we are and whatever we do. Remember the wonderful statement attributed to Francis of Assisi; “Preach the Gospel at all times; if necessary use words.”

Our preaching takes effect in the way that we listen to others, as we work besides others, as we do dishes with our loved ones or random acts of hospitality (courtesy)—even when we drive out of the parking lot on Sunday morning. Our preaching takes place in a healing ministry of relationships with the vulnerable and forgotten, it occurs as we make ourselves available for the Holy Spirit to move through us in compassion, generosity, and acts of mercy.

The greatest compliments might come in statements like:

· “When I am with you, I feel like a totally different person, you make me feel like I am significant; that I matter and can make a difference, that I am not just a victim of life.”

· How can you be so passionate about what you do—and yet, so at peace?”

· How can you be so calm under so much turmoil? Can you teach me how to be like that?”

These comments will usually come from people who observe God working through you in the lives of the vulnerable. They see God’s light and power flowing out of your heart and they are attracted to its vibrancy.

Even at the moment of death, I have seen nurses and staff members who were drawn to the faith of people who were obviously embraced in the Creator’s presence.

Will it be said of us; that compassion was our loudest pronouncement and those in need called us “good news?” Will we accept the commission of the early church to love like Christ loved?

Philippians 2:1-5

[1] If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, [2] make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. [3] Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; [4] do not {merely} look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. [5] Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. (NAS)

Colossians 3:12-17

[12] And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; [13] bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

[14] And beyond all these things {put on} love, which is the perfect bond of unity. [15] And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.

[16] Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms {and} hymns {and} spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. [17] And whatever you do in word or deed, {do} all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (NAS)

“Lord, let the Good News be exemplified in our actions, and compassion be the power we portray; that justice and mercy might become the hallmarks of our life and love be the passion of our days.”

Copyright © 2005 Jerry Goebel, All Rights Reserved. Used with permission

See Also:

Sermons and Bible Commentaries for the Koodosh Eatho Sunday

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