Summary: Everybody wants to be a winner. But Jesus calls on His followers to be losers! This sermon examines what Jesus means by this paradoxical truth, and other issues Jesus addresses.
#36 Be a Loser!
February 7, 2021
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TEXT: Please turn in your Bibles to Mark 8:27.
Winning the lottery isn’t an assured ticket to the good life, as these previous winners can attest:
• Jack Whittaker, a West Virginia businessman, won $315 million in the Powerball lottery in 2002, the largest jackpot ever from a single ticket in American history at that time. – After being robbed of $545,000 in cash while at a strip club, Whittaker’s granddaughter and daughter were later found dead, and he was sued by Caesars Atlantic City casino for bouncing $1.5 million in checks to cover gambling losses.
• Billy Bob Harrell, a preacher who stocked shelves at Home Depot struck it rich in 1997, winning $31 million in the Texas lottery. – 20 months later, after divorcing his wife and buying a half-dozen homes for relatives, he committed suicide with a shotgun.
• In 1996 Jeffrey Dampier and his wife won $20 million in the Illinois lottery and used the money to buy relatives homes and to start a gourmet popcorn shop in Florida. – Nine years later, Dampier was kidnapped and killed by his sister-in-law and her boyfriend who targeted him for money.
Winning fame or fortune sometimes means losing in life.
In your mind, answer this question: “__[BLANK] is for losers.”
• Someone who drives a BMW might say: “Fords are for losers.”
• A burly football player might say: “Soccer is for losers.”
• A foodie might say: “Frozen pizza is for losers.”
Now if you like one of those things, even if those comments were offered in jest, you might not let others know it because no one wants to be thought of as a loser. That’s why people try to keep up with the latest fashions and technology, or at least do their best to fake that they’re keeping up, because no one wants to be thought of as a loser.
Today’s Bible text teaches that being a loser isn’t a bad thing in the Christian life. In fact, it’s essential! That’s because God’s best life for you is for losers, and for losers only. That’s the surprising claim Jesus makes in our text this morning. But there’s much more Jesus teaches in this text too, so let’s take a closer look at it.
I. NOTICE FIRST, A LIFE-CHANGING CONFESSION IN MARK 8:27-30 – “...Jesus and his disciples went out into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ 28 And they answered, ‘John the Baptist, but some say, Elijah, and others, one of the prophets.’ 29 And he said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ And Peter answered and said to him, ‘You are the Christ.’ 30 And he warned them not to tell anyone about him.”
On the way to Caesarea Philippi, Jesus paused to ask the disciples two questions. Jesus often used questions as springboards for new teaching. His first question was general: “Who do PEOPLE say that I am.”
The disciples echo the predominant views of the day.
• Some said he was JOHN THE BAPTIST. – This was absurd, of course, since John the Baptist lived contemporaneously with Jesus, but it was out there on Facebook and Twitter: So it must have been true, right?
• Some claimed Jesus was Elijah back from the dead.” – Elijah was considered the greatest of the prophets and it was believed Elijah would play a key role in the establishment of the Messiah’s kingdom, so this one might have made some sense.
• Finally, the disciples said, “Some say you’re one of the prophets.”
To identify Jesus with these people was to rank Him among the stellar figures in Israel’s history, which gives us an idea of how esteemed Jesus was in the popular imagination. Yet these comparisons are wholly inadequate. To compare Jesus to any of these luminaries—or as many say today that He was the greatest teacher who ever lived—sounds like an honor, but such comparisons ultimately deny Jesus’ uniqueness and puts Him on the level of mere humans. The authority and power Jesus shows throughout the gospels do not allow us to define Him in any way other than as the unique Son of God—God in human flesh.
But Jesus wasn’t so much interested in who the MULTITUDES thought Jesus was, but in what THEY—His disciples—thought. Jesus offered his first question to prime them, because it’s usually easier to give someone else’s opinions than to venture your own opinion.