Summary: We may not understand all of what Jesus says ~ or see where He’ll take us, as we continue to walk with Him; but, the point is, do we trust Him with our life and with our heart?

Walkin’ with Jesus:

Say What!?!

Scripture Text: Mark 8.31-38


Did you hear about the high school basketball team that showed exceptional sportsmanship? A couple of weeks ago, the two-teams suited-up to play. …The problem-was that one of the key-players couldn’t-go because his mother was in the hospital ~ …very-sick, with cancer.

The two teams suited-up, …ran into the gym, …and went through their pre-game warm-up-drills. Shortly after tip-off, …someone unexpected walked into the gym… It was the player whose-mother was in the hospital. He made his way to where his team was seated, …and he sat down on the bleachers behind his team’s bench. As-soon-as the coach saw him sitting-there, …he asked if he wanted to join them on the bench. “Coach,” he said, “I want to play!”

Now, here’s what you don’t know… Earlier that day, the boy’s mom died. The cancer had overwhelmed her weakened-body. The fight was over. She was gone. Her son was with her in the hospital, when she passed.

As the coach listened to his young-player tell what had happened that day ~ …all that he had been through, …with his mom passing-away, an’-everything ~ …the coach realized that to let the boy play just-might-be like-therapy for him. He told him to go to the locker-room and put on his uniform.

When the young man emerged from the locker room and took his place on the bench, …the coach tried to put him into the ball-game. There was a problem, though.

The problem-was, that since the-young-man was not-present at the beginning of the game, …his name-and-number were not in the official score-keeper’s books. And, …if the coach wanted to put the player into-the-game, …then it would mean a technical-foul. The other-team would receive two foul-shots and the ball.

The other-team’s-coach came over to the scorer’s-table, …to see what all-the-discussion was-about. The referee told the second-coach that the first team was being penalized with a technical-foul because they were inserting a player into the line-up who wasn’t on the roster. The second-coach then discovered why that player wasn’t on the roster ~ …that he had been with-his-mother in the hospital; …that she had passed away, due to cancer; …that he had come to the game to kind-of get-away-from the heaviness-and-the-heartache.

The second-coach told the referee that they didn’t have to call a technical foul. He said it was o.k.-with-him if the boy was added to the line-up. He didn’t want the first-team penalized for this-kind-of-situation. But, the referees refused! They said that, “the rules-are-the-rules.” If the young man was going to play, …then they had to call a technical-foul. And if they called a technical-foul, …then the second-team had-to-take two foul-shots!

The second-coach huddled-up his players. He looked at the-one who would-shoot the foul-shots. He said, “You know what you have to do?” Without a moment’s hesitation, …the foul-shooter nodded his head with an attitude of absolute-seriousness. He walked-out onto the court. All-alone, standing on the free-throw-line… The referee tossed him the ball for the first-of the technical-foul shots. Every-eye in the gym, trans-fixed on him. The player dribbled a couple-of-times, …looked up at the rim, as-if taking-aim, …and he released the ball. It traveled all of about ten feet!

Air ball! The crowd was perplexed. The player was non-phased. The referee grabbed-the-ball and tossed it to him for the second foul-shot of the technical. The player bounced the ball. Raised it, as-if taking aim, …and he released the ball. This-time, …the ball simply rolled out of his hands and fell innocently to-the-floor!

At-this, the crowd and the other-team realized what he had done. He had missed on purpose! 

In a world in-which sports-and-winning are idolized, …the players and the coaches on the hardwood that-night stood in-solidarity and in-compassion with the one-who-was hurting-and-grieving. Of-course, one team ended-up winning the game. But-afterward, both teams went-out-together and ate-pizza. And all the players learned that night, …that winning isn’t everything!


Our attitudes about winning and success, …and the stigmas-about-losing and what-appears-to-be failure, …these things fall-under-the-microscope of today’s passage.

The disciples may have looked at Jesus with one-eye-brow raised, …and their foreheads all screwed-up, …and they just-might have said-to-Him: “Say what!?!”


I. Say What!?! ~ Must!

The first thing Jesus said, that caught their attention ~ …because it seemed to come outta-left-field ~ …the first-thing He said was that He “must”.

He said:

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected… and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.” (v. 31)

Death and crucifixion were pretty-common in New Testament times. The Romans used this-form of the death-penalty, …as-much-as a deterrent, …as they did for punishment. Crucifixion was public. Many times, the criminals were raised on crosses right-on-the-side of busy-roads. So-that everybody could gawk. And-so the crowds and passers-by could jeer-and-make-fun-of those hanging-there in agony.

It was cruel punishment ~ from a physical-stand-point. And those-of-you who’ve seen Mel Gibson’s, “The Passion” ~ …you really get-a-sense for how torturous, crucifixion was. But, it was also-cruel-punishment from an emotional-stand-point. You’re not-only condemned to die, …but, you’re also subjected to humiliating-treatment by strangers-and-neighbors ~ …even while you suffer.

Now-here’s-the-thing: The disciples must’ve-known that death was a possibility. The Romans used the death-penalty freely and frequently. And, they viewed anyone who gathered attention and popularity and crowds-of-people ~ …the Romans viewed those-kinds-of-people as “threats”… Threats to their grip-on-the-land; …threats to their hold-over-the-people; …threats to their position and power, authority and rule.

And-so, …as Jesus grew in popularity, …and as people flocked to hear-Him and see-Him, …the disciples must’ve-known that it was at-least-a-possibility that Jesus might be arrested and imprisoned, …perhaps, even, condemned-to-die.

But the thing that got-the-disciples’-goat, …the-thing that totally-tripped-them-up was that Jesus said “must”!

If Jesus had said-it a different-way, …they proably wouldn’t-have had-a-problem. If Jesus had-said, “Ya know, guys… things-happen; “…and this-deal may-not-turn-out the way you’re expecting. “Ya might-wanna think about the fact that I might end-up in-prison, …or-worse.”

But-Jesus didn’t say these-things might happen ~ “We’ll just have-to-see how the cards fall!” ~ No! He doesn’t say it ‘might’ happen… He says it must take-place! “I must suffer many things”. “I must be rejected”. “I must be killed”… Must, must, must! Jesus intended to go down that-path! He was saying that suffering, …and rejection, …and death ~ …these-things were the plan, …the goal, …the destiny that He was shootin’-for!

And they just-didn’t-get that! Why would He want-to-die? Why would He purposefully suffer? Why would they go through all-this-hoopla, …performing miracles, …feeding the crowds, …teaching the multitudes, …freeing those in bondage, …why would they do all-this-wonderful-stuff, if it was just-gonna-land-Jesus on a cross!?!

II. Say What!?! ~ I’m Wrong!?!

Peter spoke up. It was as though he couldn’t contain-it any-longer. The Bible says that Peter “rebuked” Jesus. The New Living Translation says that Peter “took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things.”… What things? ~ That He was going to suffer …and be rejected, …and die.

Reprimand… Rebuke… The Greek word there is: epitoman. It means: “rebuked, warned, gave orders, said sternly, sternly, strictly warned, warning.” There is a strong-tone to Peter’s words to Jesus. It’s like a parent, who reprimand’s his son for stepping on the gas-peddle to get-through the yellow-light that is turning red. It’s like a boss, who gets-onto-the-employee for doing a shoddy-job. It’s like a principal, who warns a student about the path her choices are taking her down. Peter reprimanded Jesus!

Now, Peter must’ve thought-pretty-highly of his-thoughts, in order to climb-up-the-ladder to talk-down-to-Jesus like-that. A reprimand almost-always comes from an authority-figure. It comes from one who knows-better. It comes from one who’s in a position to-judge between what’s right vs. what’s wrong. But, it’s unheard-of that a disciple would talk-to-his master, …his rabbi in-this-way. But, Peter did. You might-say that he’s impulsive. You might-say that he’s bull-headed… or arrogant, to-talk this-way to Jesus! You might-say that he jumps-to-conclusions, too-quickly. But, say-what-you-will, Peter opened-his-mouth and what-he-said was proof that He and Jesus weren’t-on-the-same-page!

And-then Jesus rebuked Peter! He reprimanded him, …scolded him, …gave-Peter a verbal slap-on-the-wrist. …Actually, called Peter, “Satan”! Not-that Peter suddenly was-all-dressed in red, …with horns, a pitch-fork, and a long-pointy-tail. But, in-the-sense-that Peter was suddenly-becoming a tempter ~ …trying to divert Jesus from the path that the Heavenly-Father had called Him to travel-upon.

Do you remember in Luke’s story of the 40-days of temptation-in-the-wilderness, …do you remember that Luke says, at-the-end of those-temptations, …Luke says the devil left Jesus “until an opportune time” ~ …Do you remember-that?

In all the temptations, …the devil was trying to-get-Jesus to-become a different-kind-of-Savior; …he was trying to get Jesus off-the-path that God wanted Him to travel; …he was tempting Jesus to compromise His commitment to God’s will.

And here-Peter-is, …doing the same-thing! “Suffering isn’t for you! “Rejection!?! ~ No-way! The crowds love-ya-man! “Death! ~ Come-on! What’s that gonna accomplish!?! “We’re gonna-be winners, Jesus. “Now, let’s stop all-this-silly-talk about losing… You need to get your head on-straight!”

You know that this is the point in the sermon when the pastor goes from preaching to-meddling! We’re not-all-that-different from Peter! It doesn’t do-us any-good to crawl-up-on-a-perch, …and cast stones at Peter for being so full-of-himself, …that He would reprimand Jesus! ~ …How dare he!?!... How dare he think that he knew-better than Jesus!?!

But… How often do we do the same-kinda-thing!?! How often do we argue with God about some-something ~ …thinking that what He says is ridiculous, …or impossible; How often do we tell God how to answer our prayers; …and how to solve situations; …and what-He-should be focused-on!?!

I-know!... It’s-crazy how comfy Peter’s sandals fit-on-our-feet! I don’t like it! I don’t like seeing this in myself. And I suspect that you don’t like-it-either! How dare we be so presumptuous as to tell the Lord how it is, ..or how it’s gonna be, …or inform Him of what the best course-of-action would be for our lives, …and that what He asks of us would not be wise, …or good, …or the best-thing for us! It’s-crazy to think that we would know better than Him! It’s like an infant telling a parent that it’s really o.k. to eat pop-corn and drink soda for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s like a student telling the teacher that it’s not-a-good-idea to make them work so hard to memorize the alphabet. It’s like a Christian deciding that spending-money on a new-car, and the cable bill, and lottery tickets is more important than being generous toward God-and-others; …or another Christian deciding that even-though God says you have been given gifts-and-talents, …still-yet, deciding that you don’t have anything to offer in service or in ministry! Isn’t it crazy how we do all this ~ …telling God what’s-what? Peter’s sandals slip-on so comfortably on our stinky-feet!

Now-listen, …I’m not trying to put you on a guilt-trip, …or make-it-sound as though I’ve got-this-whole-thing figured-out and you-all are such-goof-balls! What I’m saying is that Peter represents all of us ~ …for it’s because of our fallen-human-nature that sometimes… many-times we just-don’t-get-it! We think we know best. We think we’ve got a better-handle on-things. We think that we’ve got to help the Lord get-in-touch with the program! But, if we stop-and-listen, …this just-might-be what-we-hear: “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

“Oh-God, forgive-us our-arrogance! “Forgive-us for assuming that we know better than You! “Forgive-me for my attitudes ~ whenever I argue with You …or ignore Your Spirit’s leading, “…or explain-away what Scripture teaches me about life-and-living! “Give me ears-to-hear, and a heart that receives Your reprimand and Your restoring grace!”

III. Say What!?! ~ Me Too!?!

Maybe the reason Peter argued with Jesus is because he knew that to be a disciple means to-be-a-follower. And maybe Peter argued with Jesus about this-whole-thing about suffering and rejection and death, …maybe Peter argued with Jesus because he knew that if-that-was Jesus’ path, …then it-would-probably-be his path, too! In fact, the Bible scholar, Tom Wright, has argued that as you read Mark’s Gospel,

Following Jesus is… Mark’s definition of what being a Christian means; and Jesus is not leading us on a pleasant afternoon hike, but on a walk into danger and risk. Or did we suppose that the kingdom of God would mean merely a few minor adjustments in our ordinary lives?”

One of the things that we’ve got to get through our heads ~ …when it comes to walking with Jesus ~ is that we aren’t always gonna understand everything! It’s not a matter of comprehension; it’s a matter of trust. Trust-and-obedience is not based-on understanding, …they’re based-on faith.

When God asks us to do something, …we don’t wait until we fully understand how it’s all going to play out. We don’t withhold our ‘yes’ until it all makes sense. We don’t hold-back until we can see the end-game. No, we trust Him; …we trust His heart; …we trust His plan. It may lead us through the fire; …it may take us through the flood; …it may involve suffering; …it may entail hardship ~ …but, if-it’s-part of His plan, …then He will use those experiences for good!

“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.”


We may not understand all of what Jesus says ~ …or see where He’ll take us, as we continue to walk with Him ~ …but, the point is, do we trust Him with our life and with our heart?

We don’t have to see two-or-three miles down the road; …we don’t have to have all the details of how things will-unfold; …we don’t have-to-have a turn-by-turn printout from MapQuest… All we need to know is that God invites us to walk with Him ~ …and what-that-means is-that so-long-as we faithfully put one-foot in-front of the other, …we will be with Him at each twist and turn in the road. Whatever comes our way, we’ll be with Him. And because of that, we can face hardship and suffering, loss and persecution… All we need to know is that God invites us to walk with Him.

A beloved cartoon-character, Charlie Brown. once said, “Winning ain’t everything, but losing ain’t nothing!”

A cross may look no-good. Picking-up a cross may look-like losing. Carrying-a-cross may seem-like the worst-possible-deals.

But, as-followers-of-Jesus, …this is what we’re called to do. And-if-we-do… If we put other before ourselves, …if our lives are devoted to serving, rather-than being served, …if we live humbly and patiently, not arrogantly or demandingly, …in-a-word, if we’ll follow-Jesus and pick up the cross of love, …we just-may-find that this cross is not a loser.

Charlie Brown is half-right… Winning isn’t everything… But-losing isn’t-always-nothin’! Jesus showed-us that victory comes through the cross! ~ As-strange-as that-may-seem!

I don’t-know what “cross” Jesus is inviting you to-pick-up ~ …loving some-annoying neighbor, …denying yourself some-worldly pleasure, …surrendering your personal dream, in-order-to follow God’s-plan, forgiving someone who’s wronged-you, …humbling yourself, …seeking God more-than you currently-are ~ …I don’t-know what “cross” Jesus is inviting you to pick-up. But, it’s-in-losing our lives …and surrendering to God …and following Jesus: …this is how our lives are saved!...

It may not be a popular message ~ …and we may be just-like-Peter, …and want to argue with Jesus over-this-deal ~ …but, Jesus bids-us to take-up our-cross. Do what it takes to follow Him. Live for the kingdom-of-God, …not for yourself; …Follow Jesus, …not your dreams; …Seek-ye-first the kingdom of God, …not the empty promises of a broken-world!

“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.”