Sermon title:  JESUS DESERVES OUR LOYALTY      Mark 8:27-38   

            

                Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, September 2, 2018

 

 

 

Last week we saw that there is a mountain of evidence

for who Jesus is.

 

There is no need for the stars in the sky

to line up to form letters spelling out “JESUS IS LORD”

because, as Psalm 19:1 says,

 

“The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

 

But this week’s passage in the Gospels

brings us to the question of

what are WE going to do with Jesus—

each one of us, as individuals—

Will we make him OUR Lord and OUR Savior?

 

Whether we like it, or not,

Jesus IS Lord of heaven and earth.

As we saw, when we read John 1 and Colossians 1

Christ created all things in heaven and on earth.

So, he is Lord of heaven and earth.

 

But he calls us as individuals

to make our personal choice to follow him—

to make him OUR Lord and OUR Savior.

 

Our Responsive Reading began with Mark 8:27

but I want to back up a bit

to look first at Mark 8:22.

 

I’ll also be looking later

at the parallel passage in Matthew, Chapter 16,

but first I’d like to begin with Mark 8:22.

 

Here we see more proof—

more evidence that Jesus is who he is--Lord of heaven and earth.

 

22 They came to Bethsaida,

and some people brought a blind man

and begged Jesus to touch him.

 

23 He took the blind man by the hand

and led him outside the village.

When he had spit on the man's eyes

and put his hands on him,

Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?"

 

24 He looked up and said,

"I see people; they look like trees walking around."

25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened,

his sight was restored,

and he saw everything clearly.

 

26 Jesus sent him home, saying,

"Don't go into the village. "

 

We learn 2 main points from this passage.

 

First, when Christ returns in Kingdom power—

when he comes back to rule as King over the earth,

as he is already King in heaven—

Jesus will heal us all.

 

It says at Revelation 21:4,

 

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes.

There will be no more death

or mourning or crying or pain,

for the old order of things has passed away."

 

Even now,

we have the wonderful hope

of entering his heavenly Kingdom when we die,

and to live forever in his presence

with no more death, crying and pain.

 

Satan the devil brought all those bad things upon mankind

and Satan is still “the god of this world,”

“the ruler of this world,”

as Jesus called him,

and as we can see plainly

by the way this world is going.

 

When Christ returns

he will un-do the works of the devil,

and will make all things right and good.

 

But that brings us to the 2nd point that we learn

from that passage where Jesus healed the blind man.

 

And that 2nd point is Jesus’ power—his almighty power.

 

Healing that blind man—

together with all the other powerful miracles Jesus performed,

including rising from the dead

after 3 days in the tomb—

all these things prove who Jesus is.

 

These things prove that Jesus is

“the image of the invisible God”

as Colossians 1:15 calls him.

 

He is the Almighty God in the flesh.

 

And that brings us to

where this morning’s Responsive Reading began,

where Jesus asked his disciples,

"Who do people say I am?"

 

Only, I want to read it from Matthew Chapter 16.           

Matthew and Mark both record

the same discussion

between Jesus and his disciples,

only Matthew gives us a few more details.

 

Beginning at Matthew 16:13,

 

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi,

he asked his disciples,

"Who do people say the Son of Man is?"

 

Remember, Jesus often called himself “the Son of Man.”

 

This was a reference to Daniel 7:13 & 14where it says,

. . . one like a son of man,

coming with the clouds of heaven.

. . . approached the Ancient of Days

and  . . . was given authority,

[a] kingdom . . . that will never be destroyed.

 

The Jews who made up Jesus’ audiences

were all familiar with the prophecies of Daniel,

so they would know what Jesus meant,

when he called himself “the Son of Man.”

 

They would know he was identifying himself

as the one who would fulfill that prophecy—

the man who would ascend into heaven

into the presence of the Ancient of Days

and who would be given power

and an everlasting kingdom.

So, Jesus

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."

 

So, people were drawing different conclusions about who Jesus was.

 

But, the Lord puts his own disciples on the spot:

 

15 "But what about you?" he asked.

"Who do you say I am?"

 

16 Simon Peter answered,

"You are the Christ,

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.

 

Peter got it right.  He answered,

"You are the Christ,

the Son of the living God."

 

But, now Jesus said something

that has often been misinterpreted.

 

18 And I tell you that you are Peter,

and on this rock I will build my church,

and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

 

The name “Peter” means “rock.”

 

And Jesus said he will build his Church on “this rock.”

 

But, when he said that,

was he gesturing toward Peter, or toward himself?

 

Scripture reveals Christ himself to be the solid rock,

the Church’s true foundation.

 

Jesus referred to himself as “the stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief cornerstone.”

 

And Peter repeated that Jesus was that “stone” at 1 Peter 2:7.

 

1 Corinthians 10:4 says, “that rock was Christ.”

 

Jesus next told Peter,

 

19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth

will be bound in heaven,

and whatever you loose on earth

will be loosed in heaven."

 

Peter used those keys of the kingdom of heaven.

 

He used the first key

when he gave the Gospel to the Jews.

It was on the day of Pentecost

when he addressed crowds of Jews from around the world

and brought thousands of Jews into the Church—

into the Kingdom.

 

And he used the second key

when he preached the Gospel to the Gentiles.

 

It was when he was called by the Holy Spirit

to the share the Gospel with the household

of the Roman army officer Cornelius.

 

So, there were 2 keys to the Kingdom of heaven:

One key opened the door to the Jews.

The other key opened the door to the non-Jews.

 

Peter used both keys.

 

There weren’t any more keys to use.

Jews and non-Jews covered everyone.

 

But some church leaders in later centuries,

invented the false doctrine

that Peter had successors,

and that he passed on keys

to them—

namely to the popes of Rome

and the Vatican hierarchy.

And, on that basis,

they claim the loyalty and obedience

of billions of people.

 

They claim that the keys give them the power to forgive sin,

allowing people into heaven,

or condemning them to hell.

 

And they claim that this power was given to Peter,

and that Peter passed on this power

to the popes and to the Catholic hierarchy.

 

However, such teaching is not found anywhere in the Bible.

 

It is a false, man-made teaching

that the Vatican hierarchy has used down through the centuries

to subject people under their claimed authority,

and to terrorize people into obedience to them.

 

It resulted in people giving their loyalty and obedience

to a human hierarchy

instead of to Christ Jesus himself.

 

That is a major reason why

Catholics have been afraid to report clergy sex abuse.

 

But the keys to the kingdom of heaven

that Jesus gave to Peter

were used by Peter,

and that was the end of them.

 

The idea that the Roman Catholic clergy

have keys to keep people out of heaven

or let them in—

that’s a false, man-made doctrine.

 

==============================

 

Continuing in Matthew 16:20,

 

20 Then he warned his disciples

not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

 

Why would Jesus not want the disciples

to tell anyone that he was the Christ?

 

Well, there were 2 reasons:

 

First, Jesus wanted to let the evidence speak for itself.

He wanted people to draw that conclusion themselves

in their own hearts.

 

And second,

it was not yet time

to officially announce to the world who Jesus was.

 

Announcing it too soon

would bring the authorities into the picture

and would hasten Christ’s crucifixion

before the appointed time.

 

But Jesus wanted his disciples to know.

 

And he wanted them to know what was going to happen.

 

So, continuing in Matthew 16:21, we read,

 

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."

 

Peter’s thinking on this

was from a human perspective.

Jesus showed him

that he needed to look at it from God’s perspective.

 

So, our Lord Jesus used Peter

in mighty ways.

 

He gave Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven:

to open the door to heaven for the Jews at Pentecost,

and later to open the door for Gentiles.

 

But Peter was still a man,

and was still just one of the Apostles.

 

He was not in any way the first pope,

as the Vatican hierarchy claims.

 

In fact, as we read the book of Acts,

we find that it was James—not Peter—

but James who acted as chief—as the top man--

in the early Church.

 

It was James who made decisions,

and it was James who the Apostle Paul reported to.

 

So, again,

there is no biblical basis

for that false claim

that Peter was the first pope.

 

The history of the Church

shows where the first popes really came from.

 

The Apostles started churches in one city after another

across the Roman empire,

and they appointed elders and deacons in each church.

 

Later, when there were many churches in each city,

a prominent elder

came to be looked to

as the overseer or bishop of each city.

 

Rome was the capital city of the Roman Empire.

 

Eventually, Roman Emperor Constantine

claimed to become a Christian—

perhaps just as a political move, to unite his empire—

the power of the bishop of Rome grew even greater.

 

Then, the bishop of Rome

was in close contact with powerful politicians

in the Roman government.

 

 

That gave the bishop of Rome

a lot of influence and power.

 

After the Roman Empire collapsed in the late 400’s

the bishop of Rome

assumed governmental power

over the city of Rome and the surrounding territory.

 

The bishop of Rome had armies under his command

and ruled over a significant portion of Italy.

 

Bishops cities in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and North Africa

rejected any claims of special authority

by the bishop of Rome.

 

But bishops in Western Europe

looked to the bishop of Rome for leadership

and made him their pope.

 

And that is where the Roman Catholic Church came from—

a church that is in grave crisis today

because its false doctrines

of priestly celibacy and priestly authority

led to a powerful and abusive hierarchy.

==================

 

Returning, now, to Mark Chapter 8,

in our Responsive Reading,

Verse 34 says that Jesus then

 

. . . 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.

 

Our Lord Jesus went to the cross for us.

He died for us.

He took the penalty for our sins upon himself,

so that we might not perish

but have everlasting life.

 

And Jesus calls us to follow him.

 

He wants us to be his loyal followers,

and to follow his example

of self-sacrificing love for others.

 

And that puts us at odds with the world around us—

a world that is hostile to Jesus and his teachings.

 

We could end up losing our job, our possessions,

or even our life, if we loyally stick to Jesus and his teachings.

 

But he promises us in Verse 35,

 

35 For whoever wants to save his life

will lose it,

but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.

 

36 What good is it for a man

to gain the whole world,

yet forfeit his soul?

37 Or what can a man give

in exchange for his soul?

 

Jesus holds our everlasting life in his hands.

 

If we quit obeying Jesus

in order to become rich and powerful

we might gain huge treasures,

but we would forfeit our soul.

 

And so, in the end, we would have nothing.

 

And loyally following Jesus

involves faithfully following his teachings,

even if they are unpopular.

He continues,

 

38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words

in this adulterous and sinful generation,

the Son of Man will be ashamed of him

when he comes in his Father's glory

with the holy angels."

 

Loyalty to Christ

involves upholding his words and teachings.

 

He will reward those who do so.

 

And those who reject or ignore Christ’s words

will be in big trouble when he returns.

===================

 

Church history tells us

that there was German priest named Martin Luther

who was desperately seeking God.

 

He was already a priest,

but his soul was deeply troubled for lack of

a personal relationship with God himself.

 

His closest friend told him what to do.

 

He told Luther to bind himself to Christ,

to say to Jesus,

“I'm yours. Save me.”

 

It’s a simple prayer from Psalm 119:94

“I'm yours. Save me.”

 

Luther said that prayer to Jesus,

giving himself to Jesus,

and asking Jesus to save him.

 

Before that, he knew that Jesus was Lord of heaven and earth.

 

But, by saying—and really meaning it—

by saying, “I’m yours,”

he was making Jesus HIS personal Lord.

 

He was giving himself to Jesus.

 

And he was asking Jesus to save him.

 

Luther was changed by that prayer.

 

He went on to follow Jesus,

instead of following the church hierarchy.

 

And the result was the Protestant Reformation

and the Protestant churches

that look to Christ as head

instead of looking to the pope of Rome.

 

Romans Chapter 10 says,

 

That if you confess with your mouth,

"Jesus is Lord,"

and believe in your heart

that God raised him from the dead,

you will be saved.

 

10 For it is with your heart

that you believe and are justified,

and it is with your mouth

that you confess and are saved.

11 As the Scripture says,

"Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."

 

We, today, can do the same as Martin Luther did.

 

We can pray that prayer,

and tell Jesus,

“I’m yours.  Save me.”

 

And he will do that.

You will belong to him.

And he will save you.