Sermon — Pr. Tony Sikora — A Pebble in the Savior’s Sandals

Sermon Text: Matthew 16:21-28
August 31, 2014


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 /evening’s sermon is taken from St. Matthew’s gospel account the 16th chapter.

Beloved in the Lord,

Steadfast Sermons GraphicPeter the pebble has spoken.  He confessed Jesus as the Christ.  He got it right.  Hi fives all around.  Dance a jig around the campfire and let everyone kumbaya around the campfire.  Even the Savior Himself lends him His praise.  “Blessed are you Simon bar-jonah.”  Surely good times are coming.  The Christ is here.  The Messiah is with us and we know it, we know Him, He’s ours.  He’s on our side.  And with the Christ, the Son of the Living God on our side whatever could there to prevent our happiness?  Do you know what this means?  No more Roman armies.  No more disease.  No more hunger.  No more demon possession.  No more suffering, and no more death.  With Jesus on our side the world is set before us.

That’s what Peter really wants.  He wants the world set before him and Jesus is his means of attaining it.  Peter wants the easy road to happiness.  He wants what all of us want.  He wants what Old Adam wants.  He wants to be happy.  And who doesn’t want to be happy. Who doesn’t want to have fun?  Who doesn’t want to laugh and play and rollick in the world set before us? Who doesn’t want to gain the whole world and have Jesus right there as the one giving it to you? Jesus is the Christ!  The Son of the living God!  Right?

Well, “From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Mat 16:21 ESV)  Wait.  What?  The Christ, the Son of the Living God must suffer and be killed?  Peter did not see that coming.  The High Fives quickly cease.  The jig is up. The chorus abruptly ends.  No one’s swaying shoulder to shoulder around the campfire any longer.  Suffering and death are not fun.  Jesus tells His disciples He must suffer and He must be rejected and He must die.  That is not the foundation for a happy life.  Suffering and death are not fun.

Peter wants life to be happy.  You want life to be fun.  And our culture has wholeheartedly bought into such a worldview.  We want everything to be fun.  We want school to be fun. We want homework to be fun.  We want learning to be fun. We want to have fun jobs and fun marriages and families and fun parents making play with fun children.  Want every aspect of our lives to be fun even church, even Jesus.  We want fun Jesus not crucified Jesus.  Fun becomes our idol and entertainment becomes our means of grace.  This is why we chase after technology and bow before the video screens be they on our walls, in our pockets or hanging from the rafters of Christ’s church.  These entertain us and provide us with the illusion that what we are doing is fun when in reality what we are doing is dying as we surrender our humanity, our dignity in order to gain the whole world apart from the cross.

And when the illusion is made manifest, when the consequences of sin crash our party, when marriage begins to hurt, or children rebel, or cancer departs only after taking our loved one, or our job requires our sweat, or our education requires discipline, or we don’t seem to get much out of bible study, or worship seems same ole’ same ole, then we deny Christ and begin to appease Old Adam.  Rather than repent and follow and obey the Savior we prefer to go another way.  The chase is on again to find the fun wife, the fun husband, the fun family, the fun church, the fun life.  Thus we chase and we hunt and we abandon our post and we surrender our vows and we hurt the ones we said we loved.  We hurt the ones we promised never to hurt.  We sin against each other while trying to please ourselves and avoid the burden of love toward our neighbor.

Peter wanted a different Jesus, a different life, than the Father was giving him.  So do we.  And for that we must repent.  For such things are of Satan.  They are demonic. They are like pebbles in Jesus’ sandals; attempts to deter Him from Loving us with His whole heart by getting in His way.  Peter rebuked Jesus for His self-sacrifice.  So do we when we deny the cross He’s given us and seek to love ourselves and gain the whole world.  We reject what it means to be Christ. We reject what it means to be Christian, disciples of the Christ.

Jesus will not have such disciples.  He’ll have none of that because any of that is not following Jesus but following the devil, or the devil who makes himself into some sort of fun Jesus.  So Jesus calls Peter out.  He calls you out.   Jesus calls Peter, Satan.  He calls you to repentance and tells you how its going to be if you’re going to be following Jesus.

Jesus is going to Jerusalem. That’s happening.  That’s happened.  He’s going to be rejected. If you follow Jesus you will be rejected.  Jesus is going to be rejected and He’s going to suffer.  His rejection results in violence.  Following Jesus into suffering means you will suffer.  That’s how its going to be.  Following Jesus isn’t fun.  Life as a Christian isn’t fun.  Not everything can be like vacation Bible school with cookies and juice and crafts and play time.

The world we live in is ruined.  Rather than embracing the ruins of this world Jesus calls us to something better, something greater, something far more good than the fun life promised by the devil.  He calls you to Himself, to His cross, His death and His resurrection.  There on the cross is the end of this world’s fun playtime.  There on the cross is the destruction of the devil’s illusions.  There is the end of the consequence of your sin.  That which ruined our world is itself ruined.  That which brought death is put to death. That which puffed up our hearts is pierced in the body of Jesus. Jesus goes to the cross for you and me and the whole world so that sin would no longer have dominion over us, so that the Law could not condemn us, so that God’s Wrath would be exhausted on one man for all men, women and children, so that death would lose its fangs and life would be redeemed.

The world we live in is ruined by sin but at the same time she is redeemed by the blood of Christ and eagerly awaits the return of her Lord on the last day.  Just as the Christ did not remain in the grave having been liberated from the wages of sin, so also the whole world.  The dawn of the resurrection is upon us.  New life is set before us.  Eden has been restored in our midst right here in this place.

Here in the Lord’s house is the reality of our new world, where fallen creatures like us gather together around the body and blood of the Risen Christ.  Here the Savior walks with us and talks with us and tells us we are His own, not in some emotional mystical manner but really and truly through His Word and His Sacrament.  No, the liturgy is not necessarily fun, but we are not here to pursue the fun, we are here to receive life, the life of Christ and to have it as our own. This life comes to us through Word and water and bread and wine and liturgy and hymnody and the blessed conversation and consolation of the brethren.  Here in this place we are not only made Christians through the word and sacraments but we are preserved as His Christians through the Word and Sacraments.

Here you learn what it means to be Christ’s disciple.  And where the Word is preached faithfully you are not deceived.  The illusions of the world around you are torn down, crucified to you and you to the world.  The waters of your baptism flow for your refreshment.  The consolation of absolution is given for your renewal.  The Sermon rings loud the love of Christ the life given through faith in Christ.  The supper nourishes you with the free forgiveness of sins and the resurrection of the body.  Paradise is set before your hearts this morning/evening because Jesus is set before you.

Therefore dear Christians when you follow Jesus as His disciple you follow Him where He has promised to be.  You first follow to the Lord’s house where your sins are forgiven and you are assured of your divine inheritance.  Receiving these by faith you follow Jesus into the world, into your vocations.  In the world and in your vocations you take up your cross and bear the burden of love to your neighbor.  Husbands you love your wives as Christ loved the Church.  Wives, loving your husbands you also submit as the church submits to Christ.  Both husbands and wives are called to deny themselves in reverence to Christ.  There is no promise from God you’ll have a “fun” marriage but following Christ there is the promise you will have a “blessed” marriage.  The same is true for any other vocation.  Deny yourself.  Love without measure.  Be concerned about the people around you, for their well being, their comfort, their edification, their health and their salvation.    Stop watching the screens and start watching each other.  Husbands take your eyes off those photoshopped women and look upon your wife.  Parents stop fooling with your phones and spend time with your children, read to them, talk with them, eat dinner with them.  You can’t do any of that if you’ve carted them off to have fun on their own.  And by all means rejoice in your work, knowing that your labors in the Lord are not in vain.

Beloved in the Lord, as a Christian, everything you do, you do in the Name of Jesus.  Your vocations happen in the Name of Jesus.  Therefore, let the Name of Jesus be exalted in your lives, your words, your manners, your jobs, your families, your whole being.  Be not a pebble in the sandals of the savior, but making the great confession rest your heart and soul upon the Rock who is Christ.  As the psalmist says,  “For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. (Psa 27:5 ESV).  That rock is Christ, Christ crucified and Christ risen.  Christ for the world. Christ for you.  AMEN!

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