Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: There is more to the faith and to the work of the church than trying to raise a "nice" army. There are those things that are actually of greater importance.

Ever have a bad day? That’s a bit of a rhetorical question actually. All of us have.

One mother writes:

It was one of the worst days of my life: The washing machine broke down, the telephone kept ringing, my head ached, and the mail carrier brought a bill I had no money to pay.

Almost to the breaking point, I lifted my one-year-old into his high chair, leaned my head against the tray, and began to cry.

Without a word, my son took his pacifier out of his month and stuck it in mine.

➢ Clara Null in "Humor for Preaching and Teaching"

One of the passages in the scripture that has remained emotionally bookmarked in my psyche is found in Matthew 16.

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ,a the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,b and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hadesc will not overcome it.d 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will bee bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will bef loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ. 21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his lifea will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Why was Jesus rebuke so severe?

It is there because I try to imagine what Peter might have felt like as he received extraordinary praise and scathing rebuke from Christ in what would seem to be the same exchange. From the heights to the depths in a matter of minutes. That had to hurt.

Couple Peter’s zeal and impetuous nature with a desire to please Christ and there is extreme vulnerability. If this was no particularly important person, then the words might not have made a difference but these words and this person was so critical. As we get older and more adept at life in general, our words carry a greater impact generally. We forget what it was like to be on the receiving end of comments that either made our spirits soar or crushed them. Just a side point to say that we need to become wiser about our speaking, the use of words as we age. There are those that feel that age should bring license to become less careful, more “frank”. Really, I think the opposite.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Col. 4:6

I am sure that it was more than a “bad day”.

While I realize that Christ was fully human and fully Divine, I struggle to imagine that he was as I am by times. For instance, in the times when he stole away from the crowds, was he simply setting a pattern for us to follow? Was he underscoring by behavior a discipline to be embraced by future followers? Was he submitting to some “duty” as an example for us? I think that I have an easier time imagining that he was running away out of absolute necessity. In my own life, there are times when I am running on empty. I have nothing left to give to people and in those times the best thing that I can be is “unavailable”. Let me ask you a question church. Do you believe that? Are there times when in your heart, you would feel that you are better pastored because a pastor is unavailable to you because he is being ministered to by the Spirit of God?

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