Summary: This sermon centers upon three things that Jesus tells us that we must do if we wish to follow him.

What Hast Thou Done for Me?

Second Sunday in Lent 2006

Dr. Paul G. Humphrey

Mark 8:31-38

MK 8:31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

MK 8:33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." (NIV)

You know that you are having a bad day when Jesus calls you Satan. Peter meant well. But, he could not see the fullness of what Jesus was saying. He saw through earthly eyes, and heard through earthly ears, just like we all do. Later Peter will understand what Jesus was talking about.

Peter will understand that Jesus had to die on the cross and be resurrected again so that Peter and all of us might have life eternal. Peter is just beginning to learn about self sacrifice, and he will soon see the greatest sacrifice ever made.

Many of you went to see The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, based on the C.S. Lewis’ book. Through this children’s book Lewis provides a powerful allegory to the crucifixion of Christ, in a manner that even children can understand. A little boy named Edmund had fallen under the power of the White Witch. He had fallen for her gifts and promises, and in the process became a traitor to his friends.

The Great Lion Aslan came to his rescue, but the White Witch reminded Aslan that as was written on the stone table, she had the right to every traitor. He was to be killed on the stone table. After the private conversation between Aslan and the White Witch was concluded, everyone was amazed that she let Edmund go. Aslan had exchanged his life for the boys. And, that night the Great Lion surrendered himself to the witch and her followers. There on the stone table where Aslan was bound the evil witch stabbed and killed Aslan.

Aslan’s friends cried and cried and early the next morning went to recover his body. But, they found the stone table broken and Aslan was nowhere to be found. Suddenly they turned around to find the great lion alive! Shaking his great mane! Weeping for joy they asked how this could be. “What does this mean?”

Aslan replied, “It means that though the witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.”

I don’t know that we can begin to comprehend the price that Jesus paid on our behalf. He was the spotless lamb. He was the only one that could die in our stead. Fully God, and yet, fully man, we hear Jesus praying to the father, “if this cup might pass before me, yet, not my will but thine be done.”

Peter’s rebuke of Jesus was very similar to the words of the Tempter during Jesus days in the wilderness. Satan sought to thwart Jesus’ goal. He offers an easier way, not God’s way, but an easier way, a way devoid of the pain (or so it seems at the time), a way devoid of the salvation of humankind.

Peter had the ways of man in mind, rather than the ways of God.

MK 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (NIV)

Three things stand out about following Jesus in this verse.

First, if anyone would follow me, he must deny himself.

It is not Satan that gets in my way when it comes to serving God. It is “me” that gets in my way, that causes me to often fail to follow God’s way.

We have to set self aside as best we can to be effective in God’s work. That goes against our very nature doesn’t it? I remember a church once where the people decided to get rid of their pastor. Some of the remarks were like, “we just weren’t getting fed.” I’ll tell you, if you don’t do some feeding yourself, you will starve. Or, I just wasn’t getting anything out of that church. You will get out of church what you expect to get. We are making church out to be Wal-Mart. Here is Jesus telling his followers, if you want to follow me, deny yourself and take up your cross.

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