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God’s Wisdom: The Cross

Mark 8:31-38

Pastor Dale Critchley

Lent 2
St. Paul's Lutheran Church  
Delaware, IA

Play MP3 of this sermon

Sun, Mar 12, 2006
Second Sunday in Lent

Standard LW 3-year Readings:
First: Gen. 28:10-17(18-22)
Epistle: Rom 5:1-11
Gospel: Mark 8:31-38
Psalm: Psalm 142


The text below is correctly formatted in the DOC file (see above left). The DOC file is easier to read, but the text is included below to allow for searching.

Children’s Sermon

Catechetical point: What is sin? Is it still sin if nobody finds out? (God always finds out.)

Message: What does God do about sin?

God’s Wisdom: The Cross

Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Text: (Mark 8:31-38) 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.” 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. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

This is the Word of our Lord. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

I. Introduction [Make sure microphone is set right!]

A. In order to understand today’s text, you must abandon everything the world has taught you

B. Set aside your personal experience

C. Unlearn all you have learned by your 5 senses

D. And sit at the feet of the Master and listen closely to His Words

1. Because when Jesus spoke, even those closest to Him didn’t understand

2. And since they didn’t listen closely enough, they couldn’t truly hear what He had to say to them

3. But now, [lower voice] listen closely, as He reveals reality not according to the world’s wisdom, but according to God’s wisdom

a) The hand of God made all things

b) And the eye of God sees all and knows all

c) His foolishness is greater than our greatest wisdom

d) And He has chosen to share that wisdom with you

e) So listen closely, lest you miss the secret

II. And He began to teach them that it was necessary that the Son of Man suffer much and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed and on the third day be raised.

A. Now imagine being the disciples

1. Jesus was at the height of His popularity

2. But that also meant that He was at the depth of the Sanhedrin’s hatred for Him

3. When He said this, it must’ve been shocking for them

a) Here, their leader informs them that He’s going to be killed

b) They were so upset that they didn’t even hear the part about being raised on the third day!

B. But the same happens to us

1. Look at the anxiety in your life

a) What are you worried about?

b) What keeps you up at night?

c) What causes that tension that causes you to snap at those you love?

d) What makes you feel defeated?

e) What hurts?

2. There’s no question

a) Whatever your cross is, it’s not easy to carry

b) Sometimes, you just feel like giving up

c) Or you can see no end to your trouble

d) That cross is just too heavy!

3. But didn’t you hear Jesus?

a) “And on the third day be raised again!”

b) Wipe the blood, sweat, and tears from your eyes

c) And open them to the new creation

(1) Because beyond the cross and the pain

(2) God has promised that you will find resurrection

III. And He was speaking the Word in boldness, and Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.

A. Peter couldn’t see the resurrection

B. He could only see the cross and Jesus’ resolve to go to Jerusalem to die

C. So in characteristic Peter fashion, He decides to give Jesus a pep talk—and fails miserably

1. “Jesus, don’t be pessimistic! You won’t be executed!”

2. But Peter’s rebuke/pep talk was the same thing Jesus had heard from the devil himself during His temptation in the wilderness

a) The devil tempted Jesus by saying, “Throw yourself down from the temple!” In doing so and surviving, He would be popular beyond imagination

b) Even the chief priests would’ve accepted Him!

c) There would be no cross for Him

D. But without the cross, there would be no resurrection

1. If Jesus didn’t die for us, He couldn’t rise for us

2. And if Jesus didn’t rise for us, then we would have no resurrection, either

3. The cross is necessary for the resurrection

IV. But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, "Go behind Me, Satan, since you are not thinking the things of God, but the things of man.

A. What sparked such an intense reaction, to call his closest friend, “Satan?”

B. “Turning around and seeing His disciples”

1. Jesus was faced with the temptation to go the easy way and avoid the cross

2. But then He turned around and saw those He’d come to save.

3. He loved them—and us.

4. And He knew that the whole world was counting on Him.

5. [Crescendo] “And there is no way I’m going to abandon these people I specifically came to rescue from hell!”

6. [LOUD] “How DARE you suggest that I turn my back on My beloved?!”





V. And calling the crowd to Him with His disciples, He said to them, "If anyone wants to follow after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me."

A. The world says, “Take the easy way.”

1. Go with what feels good!

2. God wants you to be happy!

3. Listen to your feelings!

4. Charity begins at home—with #1 right here!

B. But Jesus says to deny yourself

1. Deny: reject or turn away from—what Peter did to Jesus the night of His arrest

2. Forget about yourself and pick up your cross

3. Pick it up and follow Jesus, even if you don’t understand why you have to carry such a heavy burden

4. Because no matter how rough or heavy your burden, the empty tomb is on the other side

VI. "For whoever wishes to save his soul [/life] will lose it, but whoever loses his soul [/life] for My sake and the Gospel's will gain it. For what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his own soul [/life]?"

A. Love isn’t concerned with the self.

B. “My life, my soul—they’re fine in Jesus.”

1. “But yours is in trouble,

2. so forget about me—your needs come first.

3. And I will do whatever it takes to see to your needs and give up whatever I need to, even my life for you,

4. Because Jesus gave up His life for me.”

C. You don’t need to worry about yourself—God will take care of you

1. He already has

2. And He promised, “I will be with you always to the very close of the age.”

3. So instead, concern yourself with your neighbor’s care.

D. What good will it do you to focus on the things of this world?

1. Think about the things you call your own, the things you can trade for money

2. Think about the things you can’t see, but value nonetheless, like your reputation or personal comfort

3. Those things are all kindling for the fire that will consume all creation

4. Not really something to invest your life in

5. And even less to invest your soul in

a) Don’t deal in temporaries, whether joyful or troubling

b) Focus on the eternal to get your perspective

VII. "For what will a man give in exchange for his soul [/life]?"

A. Your life and soul are of infinite value

B. So much so that Jesus was willing to give up His infinite riches to save your life and soul

C. Yet what are you willing to swap for it?

D. Sadly, it doesn’t take much

1. An adrenaline rush

2. Physical pleasure

3. The respect of your peers

4. Feeding an addiction

5. What’s your price?

E. And why is your price lower than the infinite value your life and soul are worth?

VIII. "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My Words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."

A. If you choose the glory of this world over the cross, you will inherit this world

1. But this world will be destroyed

2. And you with it in hell for eternity

B. But Jesus instead “hold[s] now Thy cross before my closing eyes”

1. Yet in your cross, if you open the eyes of faith, you will find that Someone else is carrying your cross

2. And He has already gone to the cross for you so you don’t have to

3. And He was raised on the third day

4. And in His resurrection is the answer to your cross

5. And as you look past the cross, look with faith out of the empty tomb to eternal life in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Now the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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