Summary: Some save their lives only to lose it. Others lose their lives to save it. What a paradoxical message. Yet Jesus said it was necessary.
The Way to Life
Recent report from Vatican to priests: sermons must be short (10 min), pithy and topical. Aren’t you glad I’m not a Catholic because my sermons won’t be short nor topical!
Introduction – Heaven
An elderly couple passed away and found themselves at the pearly gates. Peter was there to welcome them. First he showed them their mansion. The man overwhelmed by the sheer luxury of it all asked, "How much does this place cost per night?" Peter replied, "Sir, this is Heaven, it doesn’t cost anything." Then Peter took them to the dining room where table upon table was piled high with the most delicious foods you could imagine. Again overwhelmed by the glory of it all the man asked, "How much for the meals?" Peter said, "You forget, this is Heaven, it’s free." Peter then took them out back where they saw a fantastically beautiful golf course. As the man stood there open-mouthed Peter said, "Now before you ask, there are no greens fees, this is Heaven, everything is free." The man looked at his wife and said, "You and your confounded bran muffins, I could have been here 10 years ago!" Sometimes when people think of heaven they think of it as dull and boring. This joke however captures the promise of eternal life - a place of unbelievable beauty and delight.
The PASSION of the Cross 31-33
And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
It’s Necessity 31a
“the Son of Man must suffer many things”
It’s Misery 31b
the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed
It’s Victory 31c
after three days rise again
It’s History 32-33
The Carthaginians invented the cross 500 years before Jesus was crucified. The Romans perfected the cross as an instrument of torture and death. Interestingly, King David prophesied the crucifixion (in Psalm 22) 1,000 years before the Messiah’s death.
Illustration – Cross at Calvary
Author Henri Nouwen tells the story of a family he knew in Paraguay. The father, a doctor, spoke out against the military regime there and its human rights abuses. Local police took their revenge on him by arresting his teenage son and torturing him to death. Enraged townsfolk wanted to turn the boy's funeral into a huge protest march, but the doctor chose another means of protest. At the funeral, the father displayed his son's body as he had found it in the jail—naked, scarred from electric shocks and cigarette burns, and beatings. All the villagers filed past the corpse, which lay not in a coffin but on the blood-soaked mattress from the prison. It was the strongest protest imaginable, for it put injustice on grotesque display.
Isn't that what God did at Calvary? … The cross that held Jesus' body, naked and marked with scars, exposed all the violence and injustice of this world. At once, the cross revealed what kind of world we have and what kind of God we have: a world of gross unfairness, a God of sacrificial love.
Philip Yancey, Disappointment with God (Zondervan, 1997), pp. 185-186
The PURSUIT of the Cross 34
When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
A believer’s Desire
Simple: Our desire is to love Jesus with all our heart, soul, mind and body.
Illustration – Lovin’ Blue Bell Ice Cream
Anyone who really knows me knows how much I really, really like Blue Bell Ice Cream. (If you have never experienced Blue Bell, well you haven’t lived!) I could consume ½ gallon in one sitting. Have I told you that I really like Blue Bell? Well, if our desire to love God was as strong as my love for Blue Bell…well, God could get a lot out of us couldn’t He?
What’s your desire? How much do you love Him?
A believer’s Denial
Our denial is this world. Our destiny is with Him.
A believer’s Death
Simple: We die to self. It’s no longer all about me.
A believer’s Destination
Our final destination is either heaven or hell. For the believer, it’s heaven. For the earth-dweller or unbeliever, it’s hell.
Our pursuit ought to be not only the things of Christ but Christ Himself.