Sermon: August 31, 2008

5 09 2008

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

 

                                                Matthew 16:21–28

 

 

            I remember many, many years ago.  More years than I want to remember.  A friend of mine and I decided that this was the year that we were going to go out and play football for the mighty Rhodes High School.  We were convinced that we would be a welcome addition to their team.  First day of practice when we showed up one of the coaches handed us all a player’s manual.  Now the manual contained many things but the one thing that caught my eye and the eye of my friend was the section that talked about how practice would go.  When and how many practices would be held.  The kind of drills that would be run as part of practice.  It even spelled out the time that we would spend in the weight room – the days and the time.  It specified the coach that we should talk to who set up a particular program for us based upon the position that we might be playing.  There was also a section on nutrition.  The kind of died we should be on.  The kind of foods that we should eat.  The amount of calories that we should consume. 

            Well, I remember later when we were walking home after the first practice that my friend informed me that he wasn’t sure if he was going to continue.  I mean he wanted to play football and all.  He just wasn’t sure if he was crazy about all the “stuff” that he would have to do to play.

            Have you ever known anyone like that?  I mean they want to learn this or that trade but they really don’t want to spend the time working with a master of that trade and do what you need to do to become a master.  They want to be a lawyer, but all of that time in college and studying – that seems like an awful lot to ask a person.  They want to learn to play the organ or the guitar, but all of those lessons and hours and hours of practice time.  I mean isn’t that a bit much.  They want to have good, healthy relationships, but when they discover that you got to work hard at those kinds of things.  They don’t just come naturally.  Well, they aren’t sure that they are willing to do that.

            That is what I think this lesson for this morning is all about.  You know, it was just last week that we looked at St. Peter’s Confession.  Jesus asked the disciples who they thought He was.  Peter was the one who jumped up and said, “You are the Christ.  You are the Son of the Living God.”  Wow.  That was great.  What a statement of faith.  You are the Christ.  You are the Son of God.  You are the one who has come to save us all from sin, death and the power of the devil.  You are the one who is going to make it possible for us all to walk through the Gates of Paradise.  You are the ONE!

            That was great.  But now Jesus goes on to say what all of that means.  To be the Christ means that He must suffer and die.  It means that they are going  to come after Him.  They are going to arrest Him.  They are going to kill Him.  But that’s not all.  To be the Christ also means that they will come after all of those who are followers of the Christ.  They are going to arrest you.  They are going to kill you.  And what is Peter’s response.  “Don’t talk like that.  Come on, Jesus, you are getting all of the other disciples upset.”  Peter liked the idea of Jesus being the Christ.  He like the idea of himself being one of the Disciples of the Christ.  But the pain that would cause.  He just wasn’t too sure if he was willing to pay such a high price.

            I understand that.  There is a lot of Peter in me.  I think that I am a pretty good Christian.  But, you know, sometimes this Christian thing can be pretty painful.  Like the time that the clerk made a mistake when I bought some golf clubs and charge me $35 instead of $350.  There was a real temptation to say nothing.  But I knew the right thing would be to tell the clerk about her error.  That cost me $315.  Yet it was the right thing to do.  Telling my friends that I don’t feel comfortable about the things that they are saying or how they are acting.  There is real temptation to say nothing, because I don’t want them to think less of me.  Sleeping in on Sunday Morning rather than going to church.  Because I am awful tired today.  Not spending some time in Bible Study or Prayer because my time is really short and I have so many other more important things to do.  Not helping with the Food Pantry because there are plenty of other people who can do that, besides I am a really busy person and I have so many other things that I need to do.  Giving my fair share to the church and to charities.  There are so many other things that I need to spend my money on.  Have you seen the cost of gas?  College Tuition just went up. 

            This being a Christian thing is not so easy.  I mean I really like the gain part of it.  This pain part.  Well, I am not too sure about that.  But that is exactly what Jesus is calling us to.  To “…love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and all of your soul, and all of your mind.  And love your neighbor as yourself.”  To put God first in all things.  To live my entire life as a reflection of my love for Him, because He first love me.  To let my line shine before others so that they might see my good works and come to glorify my father who lives in heaven.  It is not as easy as I thought.  God help me.  Help me to be all that you want me to be.  Help me to love you with all my heart, and all my soul, and all my mind.  And help me to love everyone I meet as you love me. 

 

 

Amen!

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