Summary: A sermon about following Jesus.
I had a hard time writing this sermon.
I spent a lot of time reading.
I didn’t go out much this past week-- during breaks--at the continuing education event Clair and I were at in Pigeon Forge.
Instead, I wrestled with this Scripture.
On Wednesday evening, I finally thought I had an idea…
…and then, there was a knock on our hotel room door.
A friend of ours, another pastor at the conference, was stopping by to talk.
When he asked me what I was doing I said, “working on my sermon for Sunday.”
“Not getting very far,” he mused as he looked at the title of the sermon, the Scripture passage written below it and then…
…a blank screen on a laptop computer.
As the week moved on, I wondered more and more as to why I was having such a hard time writing this sermon.
I mean, it’s pretty straight forward.
Jesus and His disciples have been together for some time now.
They have traveled with Him throughout Galilee and have watched as He has healed the diseased, the disabled, and so many troubled people.
He has told parables, fed thousands of people with just a few scraps of food, walked on water and stood up to the criticism of the religious leaders.
Finally, the day came for Jesus to “pop the question.”
He asked His disciples: “Who do people say that I am?”
“What’s word on the street?”
And, not surprisingly, not much has changed from then to now: everybody has a different opinion about Jesus.
They replied, “Some people say you are John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
Then Jesus looked at His 12 who made up His inner circle: “But what about you?” He asked.
“Who do you say that I am?”
It was Peter who answered for them, “You are the Christ.”
Of course, this was the right answer.
If Peter had been taking a multiple-choice quiz he would have gotten an A+, but if he had been asked to write an essay on what it meant—he would have failed miserably.
And isn’t this where all of us are in one way or another?
We are no different from Peter.
As soon as Jesus began to teach the disciples what it means that Jesus is the Christ—“Peter took [Jesus] aside and began to rebuke him.”
Peter didn’t have a clue what it meant to be the Christ or the Messiah.
Like the rest of Israel, Peter thought that God’s Messiah would be a great warrior like King David—but on steroids!!!
He would have great power, and restore Israel, both nationally and religiously.
So far, Peter had witnessed Jesus’ great power in many ways.
He knew Jesus was special.
And so, Peter had the right term for Who Jesus was, but not the right meaning.
After Jesus rebukes Peter, He calls the crowd over to Him, for there were many more people than just the 12 disciples who were following Jesus.
And Jesus said to everyone who was hanging on and hanging out: “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.”
It’s pretty straight forward, isn’t it?
But what does it mean?
See why I have had such a hard time with this sermon?
Jesus tells us what it means to be the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God: He will face betrayal, denial, suffering, death, and finally, Resurrection.
That’s tough…but, that’s alright.
We can accept that, right?
I mean, it’s not something we have to go through ourselves.
But He also tells us what it means to be one of His disciples, one of His followers.
And sometimes I wonder if I have got this one figured out yet.
As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure I do not have this figured out yet.
Sure, I can say the right words.
I can believe the right things.
But can I live the life?
Do I live the life?
Do I even have an ounce of understanding about what living the life means???
I made the difficult decision to give my life totally over to Jesus Christ—100 percent—32 years ago!!!
32 years ago.
At least that’s what I thought I was doing.
I was 18 years old.
As I said, it was a difficult decision.
I was a pretty worldly kid.
Partying was my favorite subject.
Heavy metal music told me how to live.
I believed in Jesus Christ; I’d always believed in Jesus Christ.
I would even go so far as to say I loved Jesus.