A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on September 27, 2009 by Pastor Dale Raether Who Do YOU Say I Am? Mark 8:27-35How many of you post messages on each other’s Face Book?  I don’t.  Technology isn’t my first love.  Fortunately my second love likes technology, and so she’s doing Face Book for our congregation.  If you’d like to check it out, go to our website, www.newhope.net.  Anyway, what do you think would happen if you posted this question on your Face Book or just started asking people, “Who do you say Jesus is?”  Some might say, “He’s the Son of God”, which is a good answer, but sometimes it might surprise you to hear them say that, because of the way they live.  Others might say He was a good man and great prophet, which is actually what most people in Jesus’ day thought.  They had seen His miracles.  They knew He was from God.  Yet Jesus didn’t meet their expectations of a Savior, and so they assumed He was just a fore-runner, and that the real Savior was still coming.   Does Jesus meet your expectations?  Perhaps not, if you’re having lots of doubts and disappointments over how your life is going.  But Jesus wants to clear up those feelings, and that’s why He asked His disciples and now is asking us, “Who Do You Say I am?  1.  Scripture shows us what to expect.  2.  We can expect the cross.   The time and location of our text are important.  They weren’t in Israel anymore.  They were north and were standing in front an idol temple King Herod had made for the god Pan.  This was the same Herod, who had rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem and, when Jesus was born, had tried to kill Him.  So, why did Jesus take His disciples here?  Two reasons!  Soon He would be commissioning them to preach the Gospel to all nations, and they needed to see first-hand what they were up against.   Also, by this time God’s people had rejected Jesus, and He needed quiet time with the disciples to get them ready for Holy Week.            We read in our text, “Jesus asked, "Who do people say I am?"  They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets."” The people had rejected Jesus as the Savior, because they expected the Savior to make their life easier.  They thought He would get rid of those pesky Romans and give them good weather and crops, so they all could be rich.  They also believed that the Savior would do these things, when enough people were good enough by keeping the Jews Laws and traditions.  Jesus’ message was just the opposite.  He warned them about the sin that lives in everyone’s heart.  He also made it clear that He was not going be to making this world a heaven on earth.    We read on in our text, “"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ." – Mark 8:29 ” The disciples had not rejected Jesus as the Savior, but they were still hung up on Him making this life easier.  Well, if they couldn’t expect that of Jesus, what could they expect?  God said in Genesis, “I will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." – Genesis 3:15” The Savior would crush Satan’s power over man by letting Himself be injected with the poison of guilt and death in everyone’s place.  The second thing we can all expect from the Savior is truth.  He will say what man needs to hear, and yet He will do so in love as a brother.  Moses wrote in Deuteronomy, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. – Deuteronomy 18:15” One more thing we can all expect from the Savior is protection for our souls.  In Zechariah we read, “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. – Zechariah 9:9” Notice what the Savior brings.  He brings salvation, which is life with God beginning now and then perfectly in heaven.  But here our life with God is always imperfect, and often there’s nothing glorious about it all.  We can expect that because the Savor would be a lowly king, riding on a donkey.      So, is forgiveness, truth, and life with God what you’re expecting from Jesus?  If it is, you won’t be disappointed; and then every other blessing He gives is just incidentals.  Unfortunately, we often get hung on those incidentals, and then care little about forgiveness, truth, and life with God.  That’s what the disciples were doing too. We read, “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.  He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." – Mark 8:31-33 Jesus called Peter “Satan” because Peter was echoing the same temptation Satan used in the wilderness.  Satan had told Jesus not to try to win people over God’s way, the way of the cross, but to do it the easy way by just showing off His power.  That way doesn’t works.  It didn’t work in Jesus’ day.  He had been performing all those miracles and they still wouldn’t accept Him.  Or, think back to the days of Moses.  God showed Himself through a pillar of fire, and what did the people do?  They built golden calf.  I suspect if God showed himself this way today, people would worry about what this was doing to global warming. So, then, if God’s power and glory can’t win over anyone’s heart, what will?  Well, sin is real.  God’s sentence on the sinner is real.  However, the Son’s satisfying this sentence in behalf of everyone – that’s what wins our hearts over to Him.  Furthermore this peace with the Father Jesus won is real – as real as His resurrection on the third day.  So, who do you say Jesus is?  He is God the Son, the Second person of the Trinity.  But this is more than an intellectual question and answer.  He is also your brother and Savior, and therefore you may be certain that even if your life is all doubts and disappointments, and your very faith is going up and down like yo-yo, yet He went to the cross for you.  And someday you too will live in His eternal, heavenly Kingdom.   If you can say these things about Jesus, you are among the richest people in the world.  In fact if this was possible, how much of the world’s power, glory and wealth would you take in exchange for giving up Jesus?  Even if we got it all, it’d still be a lousy deal!  And so, when we get upset with God because things here aren’t easier, let’s ask ourselves again, “Who do we say Jesus is?”  And then since He offered His back to those who beat Him and His cheeks to those who pulled out His beard for us, let’s rely on Him even in the darkest of times. Isn’t it a shame that more people aren’t enjoying the peace we have?  Doesn’t it hurt to watch so many self-destruct, knowing that when they’re done self-destructing they’re going to be eternally separated from God?  Yet how do we win them over to Jesus?  The same way Jesus won us over to Himself.   We read in our text, “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” – Mark 8:34 Jesus won us over through the shame and weakness of His cross.  So also we can win others to Jesus through the shame and weakness of His Word.  Now, I’m speaking here as the world sees His Word.  But even we, Christians, at times may feel that the Word is shameful and weak, because so many are scoffing at it, or no matter how many times or how clearly we say it, we can’t get through to others.  Well, don’t quit!  Just as Jesus set His face like flint to go to Jerusalem, let’s set our face like flint to say what needs to be said.   But won’t some people get mad at us if we do that?  They might, and we might even have to withdraw for awhile as Jesus withdrew from Israel.  Yet if this happens, that’s a cross we’ll have to bear.  But don’t be afraid to bear it.  Again, look at the example of Jesus.  He called one of His closest friends and a future pillar of His church, “Satan”, because that’s what Peter needed to hear at that point.  Now, we should never glory in using strong language.  Yet when we really believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven, and we really believe that He reveals Himself through His Word, how can we not get passionate, when Jesus and His Word is being attacked?   How can we not say, “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men”?   Now, we might wonder how Peter could take this from Jesus, when so many others in His day weren’t taking it and turned away from Jesus?  Peter could take it, because through the Word and by the Holy Spirit he also knew Jesus’ love for him.  God grant that others today may also see the sincerity of our love, because in a way that’s what earns us the right to say those things that need to be said.  All the more, then, it’s important, that if we believe what we say about Jesus, that we show our faith with our deeds.     However, what if we haven’t been, or what if it’s been hit and miss?  Then go back to who Jesus is.  He is God’s Son, who brings us forgiveness and spiritual life.  And while our life of faith and the things we accomplish here may be no more glorious than Jesus’ bloody cross on Good Friday, yet let’s continue to follow Him.  Let’s keep setting the world straight that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God and His Word is truth!  And finally let’s never stop praying for the Holy Spirit’s blessings upon all that we say – to His glory!  Amen.

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