Summary: Jesus’ disciples struggled to understand what he was talking about. Through Scriptire, see how we need to look at the bigger picture in how God works.
Space the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise; its five year mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.
I was never really a Star Trek fan growing up as a kid. I always wanted to be a Jedi Knight, like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. But there was always something about Star Trek that inspired me. I listen to the words, “To boldly go where no man has gone before” and could dream of new worlds, new possibilities and even new ways of living and being. Well this morning that would describe the journey I am on. I am sure that our announcement to leave would seem premature to many and came as a shock. Believe me; it came as a shock to us too. For several days, Bonnie and I wrestled with this. At first we failed to understand what God could be saying to us. To boldly go meant to leave friends behind. It didn’t seem fair to the young people. They were just beginning to get to know us, and think we were sticking around.
This morning we look at how Jesus’ own disciples struggled to understand what he was talking about. Through the Scripture lesson this morning we will see how we need to look at the bigger picture in how God works. As Bonnie and I contemplate changes in our lives, we are learning what it means to be obedient to the call of God. This call is for everybody. So on our last Sunday with ya’ll, we will discover what it means to Boldly Go! The Scripture lesson this morning is from Mark 8:27-31.
Jesus and his disciples left Galilee and went up to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, "Who do people say I am?" 28 "Well," they replied, "some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other prophets." 29 Then he asked them, "But who do you say I am?" Peter replied, "You are the Messiah.” 30 But Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. 31 Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead.
Have you ever felt like you just don’t understand something? Don’t panic, you are not likely to be the only one. Jesus’ disciples never got it, and when confronted with change, they reacted how we tend to react today. The disciples were sadly set in their ways. The way they interpreted the Old Testament Scriptures, caused friction between themselves and Jesus. Jesus often rebuked them for lacking faith, or not understanding.
I am not here this morning to scoff or rebuke people for their lack of faith. I am guilty of lacking faith in my own life experience. This morning I am even cautious in drawing any parallels between Jesus predicting his own death, and Bonnie and I leaving Athens. We too are disciples of Jesus, and we lack understanding how the kingdom of God works, just like you do.
When Jesus foretells his disciples of his death they scoffed and carried on, “Who’s dying? Certainly not Jesus, he is supposed to help us get rid of the evil Roman Empire. Yes, he surely is a great military leader, like King David and he will kill our enemies.” It wasn’t that they lacked instruction from Jesus. He was often talking about the kingdom of God and laying one’s life down for their neighbor, feeding and clothing the poor. Jesus did many wonderful acts that defied logic. He calmed a storm, walked on water, fed thousands of people on next to nothing, healed the sick, and occasionally raised people from the dead. If that was not enough to get most people’s attention, I don’t know what else would.
Sadly the disciples did not see the bigger picture till days and weeks after Jesus was crucified, and many of his disciples saw him resurrected.
1. We make plans, God laughs
You may have heard or seen this phrase I have seen on a bumper sticker, “We make plans, God laughs.” Sometimes it might not seem funny when plans go astray, and things don’t work out the way we envisioned. Yet at the same time there is truth in this. Our plan may not be God’s plan.
The mistake the disciples fell into was that the presumed to understand the plan. Let’s face it they became complacent in the knowledge that they were doing great things. Yet they missed the point Jesus was trying to impress on them. They were looking for a military resolution to their problems. The nation of Israel had to this point in history been under foreign occupation for centuries. In the social climate of Jesus’ day, Israel was under the authority of the Roman Empire. They were forced to place their allegiance to Rome, and the Roman Emperor. This was hard for the people of Israel, because their allegiance was to be to God, the creator of the universe, who had rescued their people time and time again. Their mission was to overthrow Rome, and insure that Israel would become a great nation again, and people would see that their God was the all-powerful, all-conquering God of the Jews.