Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Mark’s gospel account (Mark 8:27-38) the eighth chapter.
Beloved in the Lord
Satan’s Words in Peter’s Voice (Saving your Life)
Satan, lusting to usurp our Lord’s kingdom, power and glory abandons the arid regions of the wilderness, where thorn and thistle thrive and wild beasts wander about looking for someone to devour. Instead the serpent takes his quest to the crowds, the highways and byways of God’s people, to rumors and gossip, to ideologies and philosophies. Men are always worried about what other men say, what other men think, what other men do. Men are always concerned with the things of men, more so than the things of God.
What is that men love more than anything? Humanity loves life, and not just a simple, humble life, but the heart of humanity lusts for a glorious life. Peter is no different. He loves his life and He loves Jesus. Jesus is the Messiah and the Messiah is destined for glory. But Peter, thinking the things of men, exchanges the right confession of Christ for the wrong idea of glory. The voice is Peter’s but the words are Satan’s. Peter would have no suffering Savior. “This shall never happen to you.” Peter says this out of love for Jesus. He loves Jesus. But loving Jesus isn’t faith. With these words Peter wholeheartedly longs for a different Jesus with different words and different works. Right now, he’s not loving what he’s hearing. So he must save Jesus from such humiliation. Saving Jesus from the cross Peter supposes he saves himself. And what does humanity want more than saving one’s life? Peter is a good humanist, a good supporter of Old Adam, and this morning he is the voice of Satan.
Restless Hearts Lust for Glory
Peter’s words are definitely Satanic, but they are also very much Peter’s. Satan isn’t forcing Peter. Peter knows what he’s saying and he knows what he’s doing. Satan is merely making suggestions, appealing to what is already the delight of his heart. What is true of Peter is also true of you.
No doubt you love Jesus. Loving Jesus is not the same thing as faith. Many on the last day will cry out, “Lord, Lord,” Surely they loved Him. But Jesus will respond, “I never knew you.” Love is not faith. Faith must cling to the Word and Works of Jesus, the right Word and the bloody works! Like Peter, we often don’t like what we’re hearing from Jesus. Our hearts delight in glory. Glory is achieved by power. Power is exercised with authority. Nothing is more contrary to our fallen hearts than when we pray, “for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory.” Doing so, we pray contrary ourselves.
Lusting for glory, as men, women and children are wont to do, our hearts quiver and become restless. Thus we find ourselves seeking how we might satisfy and fill what has been created for God alone. Rather than repent we indulge. Rather than suffer we act. Rather than turn away we run after. Old Adam is allowed to remain in control. Words calling him out, calling him to repentance are shunned, avoided, “This shall never happen to . . . me!” For you and I, still dwelling on this side of eternity, also still lust for glory and we seek the survival of our own lives, of our old Adam, our sinful self.
When old Adam is allowed to remain the heart also remains restless. There is no peace. There is no joy. There is only cravings and let downs, sin and disappointments, hurting and heartache. Oh, there may be “love,” but without faith, it is love for the wrong things, the wrong words and the wrong works. Without faith love doesn’t appease the conscience or the Lord. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Without faith, man’s quest for glory inevitably results in man’s quest against other men, women and most especially . . . children. The life humanity so desperately wants to save is so easily surrendered . . . or taken.
Jesus is come to Kill Sin at the Cross
When Jesus speaks He intends His words to bring forth faith in those who hear. Thus when Jesus speaks of His death these words are meant for faith. The devil, the world, and our sinful nature despise talk of death, suffering, rejection. Such things are inglorious, messy, sad, and painful. That’s exactly the point because such things are the result of sin. The wages of sin is death. You and I and all people are born into sin, we have Adam’s sin and therefore Adam’s curse. We’re going to die. Bearing such sin in our heart we put these into action. We dress them up, cover them over, tell one another it’s all about love, love for freedom, or love for expression, or love for creativity. But really it’s all about love for self.
Love for self is contrary to the things and mind of God. The things and mind of God are made manifest in the words and works of Jesus who loves you. The words and works of Jesus embrace the wages of our sin. According to Peter’s theology Jesus should run away from sin, death, suffering, and hell. But if Jesus runs away, avoids the cross then Peter goes to hell. You go to hell. The whole world goes to hell. How demonic is that? So Jesus refuses to listen to Peter or you or your friends or family, or your government or anyone who will attempt to keep Him from His good, right and salutary work. Jesus is come to save sinners. He is come to be for us and for the world the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
If you want Jesus to be anything other than that kind of Lamb, you want some other Jesus, you want the wrong Jesus. You’re in love with some guy named Jesus but not the Jesus of Scripture. The Jesus of the bible, the Jesus born of the Virgin Mary, goes to the cross to die for sins. He sheds His blood to cover over your iniquities, all of them, every single one of them not one of which is left out or forgotten. He dies because that’s what sin earns. He bleeds because without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. He does it, because you can’t. And He rises, because He can and He does and it is glorious!
Repentant Hearts receive Forgiveness
Therefore, repent beloved. You and I are just like Peter. We want the glory, the power and the kingdom. We want it without suffering. We want it without Jesus, most especially without Jesus’ suffering. Repent and receive the free forgiveness of sins which Jesus has obtained for you through His cross. Just as no sin is left uncovered by the blood of Jesus, neither is any sinner. Jesus is come for the world. Jesus is come for you. He’s come to save you, to forgive you, to give His own life as a ransom for yours.
This is the heart and mind and word and works of God without which no one can be saved. Thus the Lord calls you to repentance, to turn away from the lusts of your heart, the delightful indulgence in this world’s fleeting pleasures, and towards the seemingly common, unattractive, and boring word of the cross. Turn away and believe the Gospel, believe in Jesus. Hear His Word and let the Spirit work faith in your heart, that simple child-like trust that God became flesh and promises to be kind to you, to show you mercy, and fill that which was created for Him alone.
The heart knows no rest so long as it chases after the glories of this world. But when Old Adam is drowned in the waters of baptism the heart is made new. The death and resurrection of Jesus makes all things new. In Baptism He makes you new because His death and resurrection are poured over you and in you. He creates faith and promises to be your God, the crucified and risen God, the God who forgives and the God who restores and resurrects. He is yours and you are His.
The Cross in You (Losing your Life)
Beloved in the Lord, baptized into Christ, you are bathed with the Word and Works of Jesus. No more ought you to be concerned with the word and works of men, thinking as they do, doing as they ought not. NO! You have been crucified with Christ. The Life you now live you live by faith in the Son of God who loved you and gave Himself up for you. Your life is not your own but you, purchased and won by the blood of Christ, you are His. His life comes to you through the cross. There flows freely the mercy of God made flesh. His body adorns the altar. His blood fills the chalice. Water streams from His side to the font. His voice beckons to the Father and the Life He gives endures unto eternity. From faith flows love, love for God and His Son, and love for your neighbor. Glory is hidden beneath the cross. Faith clings to the Words and Works of Jesus. Love moves for other men, women, and especially children. Such things are of the mind of God . . . for you. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!
Pastor Tony Sikora
Hope Lutheran Church
De Witt, MI