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February 24, 2006

Study of Mark: Mark 8:31-38

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. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 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." And he called to him the crowd with his disciples and said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life? 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." (Mark 8:31-38 ESV)

Peter didn't like what Jesus had to tell them. Actually, I would say that none of them did, but Peter was the one who was bold enough to actually say it out loud. They hadn't signed on to watch Him die, and probably die themselves. Peter was convinced that He was wrong.

Jesus wanted to make sure there was no mistake about how His mission would ultimately end, and what it would mean for them to follow Him. "Let him ... take up his cross and follow me." Right there, Jesus is telling them where He is going to end up, and where they are going to end up if they follow Him. The cross -- crucifixion. The most brutal means of death imaginable. That's what they had to look forward to.

That's not what they were planning on. They were planning on a revolution, the overthrow of Roman rule in Judea, and a new government in which they would be rulers. They weren't looking to become martyrs -- they'd seen enough of those.

This is where Jesus starts to teach them about the Gospel. This is where the disciples learn the message that they were going to take to the entire world. This is where they get the message that would change the world.

Jesus taught them many things before this. Things that are important for us to remember. But unless we take this Gospel to the world, we don't have the message that Jesus wants us to share. Too many people water the message down to "Be nice. Don't fight. Respect each other." And that is important for us to remember -- but it's not the Gospel.

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you -- unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
(1 Corinthians 15:1-8 ESV)

That's the Gospel. Christ killed, buried, and risen. The atoning sacrifice made for us, so that we can be reconciled with God. Without that truth, we have no message. There are preachers who don't have this message, and yet have thousands of followers. Their churches are packed every week, but they have nothing to offer. They preach goodness, but not the Good News. Their Christ had nothing to offer but platitudes. Their faith is empty; their success based only in what they accomplish here on earth.

Our goals must be greater. Our success based on eternity, and lives changed by the power of Christ risen. He is our only hope.

Posted by Warren Kelly at February 24, 2006 08:15 PM | TrackBack
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