2012-09-09 Desiring Man’s Way or God’s Way | Mark 8:31-38; 9:1
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 said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” 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. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” 9:1 And he said to them, “I tell you the truth, there are some standing here who will not experience death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.”
Peter didn’t like it when Jesus told the twelve that he himself was going to suffer and be rejected and killed. And he said it straight up, so matter of fact, almost as if he wanted it to happen. Peter couldn’t let it stand. Perhaps Peter feared that if Jesus would suffer and be killed so would he and the rest of the twelve. So he began to challenge the Master, but Jesus cut him off.
Jesus looked at the rest of the twelve – he must have known they were thinking the same thing – when he stopped Peter who had been using the same authoritative tone that the serpent had used in the Garden long ago with Eve – challenging God’s authority. So Jesus said “Get behind me Satan?” “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of men.”
This passage reminds us that our desires – our wants – have consequences, that if we desire to follow Christ now, like him, we will suffer short-term pain, short-term rejection, and even physical death, but in return we will enjoy eternal life, eternal gain, and eternal honor.
However, if we prefer to deny Christ in order to preserve our natural lives and to gain what the world offers us now, we will suffer long-term loss, long-term rejection and eternal death.
[A matter of life and death
Save it – lose it
Lose it – save it]
We are told first that the consequences of our desires are a matter of life and death. If you want to save your life now, you’ll lose eternal life, but if you’re willing to lose your life now you’ll save it for eternity.
Jesus gathered the larger crowd of disciples because he wanted them all to hear what he was going to say, “Whoever desires to follow me must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the gospel will save it.”
If you are brought before the court because you are said to be a Christian and asked to confess or deny Christ, what will you do? That’s what is likely implied here. If you maintain your confession as a Christian, you will likely be imprisoned and sentenced to death, but if you deny Christ, you will be set free to enjoy your life – for now.
A matter of profit and loss
Self-gain – eternal loss = (Net loss)
Self-loss + eternal gain = Net profit
Second, he uses a commercial metaphor – profit and loss – to communicate the same message. He says if you gain the whole world but lose your soul for eternity in doing so, you will suffer a net loss because a person’s soul is more valuable than the world.
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Some people spend their whole lives climbing the corporate ladder for material gain, or seeking worldly fame to the neglect of their eternal souls. But if they were to amass enough wealth to buy everything in the world, or cause every person in the world to be their fan, and lose their soul in the process, they would end up a commercial loser because a person’s soul is more valuable than the whole world. They will suffer a net loss in the end.
A matter of honor and shame
Denial now – shame then
Confession now – honor then
Third, Jesus tells them that the consequences of their desires are a matter of honor and shame.
38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Those of you who are in school right now, are there still cool kids and un-cool kids? The cool kids are the ones who hang out together and make fun of the un-cool kids. They whisper among themselves, they point, they make jokes, they laugh at and sneer at the un-cool kids. They wouldn’t be caught dead hanging out with the un-cool kids. They seem to run the school and the playground. They seem to be in charge.
But in fact, they’re afraid – afraid to stand up for what they know is right – afraid to stand up for the weaker one, the poor one, the geeky one. They’re afraid of their own friends – the cool kids.
That’s what Jesus is talking about here. To be ashamed is to be afraid – to be reluctant, to lack courage – to stand up for the little person. Some people are afraid to stand up for Jesus. Their afraid of what their friends might think of them.
But a day is coming when the tables will be turned. One day he will no longer be small and weak and poor and ugly – when he comes again in power and glory as King of kings and Lord of lords. Then those who were in fear of what their friends would do to them, will be in fear of what he will do to them because he is no longer the suffering servant but the righteous judge.
It takes courage to confess your faith in Christ. Jesus wanted to assure his disciples that this day would come. So he promised them a foretaste of that glory. That’s what we find in 9:1,
9:1 And he said to them, “I tell you the truth, there are some standing here who will not experience death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.”
There are a number of theories about what Jesus was referring to, but the most plausible is that he was referring to the Transfiguration which would take place six days later. It is found in three of the four Gospel accounts immediately following this and was witnessed by only some of the apostles – Peter, James and John. In the Transfiguration Jesus gave them a foretaste of the glory that would be his when he comes again.
This experience was given to assure them that his promise to return in power and glory was true, that they need not be afraid to confess their faith in him now because when he comes again, they would not need to fear him because he would honor them for their obedience and trust in him.
Jesus’ desire was to please his Father. “I delight to do thy will, O my God,” and “Not my will by Thy will be done.” He was willing to lose his temporal life in order to gain for us eternal life. He was not afraid of what others would do to him, but was willing to stand up to the scribes and Pharisees and priests and Roman officials because he trusted his Father to deliver him from death and to honor him for his obedience. He endured the cross, despising (disregarding) the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:1)
This is what the disciples did….
What Paul did…
What Luther did…
What you can do because Jesus did it first.
…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising (disregarding) the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:1-2)