Summary: A sermon about the scandal of following Christ.
“From Information to Commitment”
This morning’s Scripture passage is scandalous!!!
First there is Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ or the Messiah.
Then there is the startling prediction of Jesus’ suffering and death.
Finally, Jesus gives His call to discipleship, which, at its center is a call to “lose one’s life.”
After reading these verses, it’s amazing that anyone is a Christian.
It’s scandalous alright!!!
But, after all, scandal is a term that has been associated with Christianity from the beginning…
…as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians Chapter 1: “we preach Christ crucified, which is a scandal to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.
But to those who are being called—both Jews and Greeks—Christ is God’s power and wisdom.”
And God’s power and wisdom goes in the opposite direction of how most of us would interpret power and wisdom.
A British journalist once wrote, “I can say that I never knew what joy was like until I gave up pursuing happiness, or cared to live until I chose to die.
For these two discoveries I am beholden to Jesus.”
Yes, this Scripture passage is a scandal.
And it’s even more scandalous if we look at what comes before it.
At the beginning of Mark Chapter 8 we have Jesus feeding the 4,000 people with seven loaves of bread and a few fish.
Now, this is the second mass-feeding of this kind.
The first one happens in Mark Chapter 6 when Jesus feeds 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish.
In the first feeding miracle, Jesus is in Jewish territory—feeding Jewish listeners.
In the second feeding miracle, Jesus is in Gentile territory (anyone who was not a Jew was considered a Gentile or unsaved—not one of God’s Chosen People) feeding Gentile listeners.
And the Messiah or the Christ was expected to come to vindicate the Jews only—and destroy their enemies…
…or to at the very least, make their enemies their footstool.
So when Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”
And when Peter answers correctly, “You are the Christ,” the disciples still really have no idea what that means, because Jesus has redefined the definition.
When Peter calls Jesus the Christ or the Messiah, he doesn’t necessarily mean that Jesus is “divine,” let alone the Second Person of the Trinity.
What Peter means is that Jesus is the true King of Israel, the final heir of the throne of David.
And what this meant for the Jews of Jesus’ day was that the Messiah would clean out the Temple.
He would defeat the enemies of Israel.
Israel would be number one again, and the Gentiles (all the non-Jews) would be put in their place!
But Jesus hadn’t been gathering up a military force.
He hadn’t been on the campaign trail—announcing His program and plan to topple the high priests and their associates.
Instead, Jesus is giving the idea of a Messiah a face-lift.