Seeing More Clearly

You know, the miracle that didn't quite seem to get the job done the first time. So very, very strange and puzzling miracle. When you read about the miracles of Jesus after why you come to have a pretty high standard for a miracle, it takes right away the first time and accomplishes everything and is a total success. Except this one. In this miracle, it takes a couple of tries. And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and let him out of the village. And when he had spit on his eyes and latest hands on him, he asked him, Do you see anything? He looked up and said, I see people, but they look like trees walking. Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again. And he opened his eyes, his sight was restored. And he saw everything clearly. And he sent him to his home saying, Do not even enter the village. Now, in reading this miracle, there are a number of things that are puzzling. One is the whole spirit thing. There are some miracles where Jesus spit on, people are spitting the dirt and makes modern and smears the mud on them. And those of us who are a little bit finicky might say, Well, what's with that? Spirit? What's going on with that? We know that it's not that Jesus had magic spirit. And that to really get the miracle done. Bit of that magic spit was the potion required. Jesus did some miracles, where he was miles and miles away. And he simply spoke a word. And the person was made better. So he really didn't have to touch or put spit on people. But in some cases he did. And very often those with whom he did it, were the ones who were the most separated, or the most outcasts, and physical touch, and just a sense of Jesus, bodily nearness, that was a very comforting thing to the person. I'm sure the guy himself didn't complain. I mean, can you imagine being a blind person being healed, you wouldn't say it, you put some spit on me, probably once you'd been healed. And when you realize who had healed you, you might say, I've never washed my face. Again. That might be the more likely reaction. But at any rate, it is one of those things about this story that that makes you wonder a little bit. Another thing that makes us wonder in this story is the fact that when Jesus was about to do the miracle, he took the man away from everybody else. And then once he had healed his vision, he told him, go straight home, don't even go into the village. And this is consistent with something that Jesus often does in the book of Mark, he does something fantastic.


And then he tells them, don't tell anybody. I don't want anybody else to find out about this. You find Jesus, healing someone of leprosy. And he says, I'm giving you strict orders not to tell anybody. He raised us a little girl from the dead. And he tells the three disciples in the room, as well as the girl's parents, I don't want you to tell anybody about this. He heals a man who is deaf and can't speak. And he gives them the ability to speak and it tells me I don't speak to anybody about this. And here in this miracle, he says, You go straight home and don't go into the village. What's going on with that? The Bible scholars sometimes refer to this as the Messianic secret, where Jesus seems to keep or at least tries to keep as much as one can. His great works as secret as possible. might say a bit more about that a little later about Jesus motivation for keeping such things a secret. But at any rate, it's in this story, and it is kind of one of those head scratchers, I mean, look at our own day and age, if somebody can do a miracle attempt as impressive as the ones Jesus was doing, shucks, if they say, I had a little bit of back pain, and now I feel better. They'll ask the camera to zoom in and the guy who did it will be kind of waving and still say Now look, look, look at this fabulous miracle. So Jesus had, at least during His earthly ministry a little different style than saying I want maximum publicity for every miraculous thing that I do. So the contact in the spirit, the, the Messianic secret and keeping the miracles kind of a hush hush. Rather than looking for more publicity, those are aspects of this miracle that are puzzling. But the most puzzling, at least compared to all of Jesus other miracles is the fact that it didn't quite work the first time. It worked some, Jesus puts the spirit on the man's eyes and then says, Okay, do you see anything? In the man. He can't make out faces, and noses, and ears and fingernails, but he's I know that he kind of sees some long blobs moving around. And he says, Well, I see people, but they look like trees walking. Now, that's a big improvement on nothing. But it's not quite where he wants to be. And so then Jesus lays his hands on him, and makes him completely well, so that he can see crystal clear. Now what's going on here? Did Jesus give it his best shot and didn't quite give it enough oomph but a second crack, you know, if at first you don't succeed, try try again. So this was just that one time, where Jesus gave it a shot in that first attempt didn't get the job done fully. So Okay, one more round. And now one more shot of Jesus power. And now he can see that all that's going on here? Well, not quite. Very often, when Jesus does a miracle, it is about more than just healing the person who needs healing. Jesus is often dramatizing or acting out something that he is seeking to show us that he's seeking to reveal to us just before this miracle, something else happened. Jesus has sad for 1000s Man and their families. And he's had some disputes with the Pharisees. And then he gets in a boat with His disciples. And he says to the disciples, beware of the yeast, of the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod. And the disciples say, I think he's talking about the fact we only brought along one bond, and where we got a bread shortage. And she's said, what? Were you guys there when I fed those 5000 men and all the people Windham, what about the the 4000 that we said, I'm not really worried about bread, I can handle bread shortages really, really well? Are you blind.


And then they run into this guy. The disciples are people who sometimes sorta, maybe see something like trees walking around, they're beginning to know something about Jesus, but it's pretty blurry, and pretty hard to make out any features, clearly. And so Jesus does this miracle of healing a man in two stages, to show that he is about to help them to see things more clearly. And Mark has this incident right at the very center of the gospel of Mark, because he is about to show us with great clarity. What Jesus wants us to see. In the story that follows the two stage healing of the blind man, we see clearly the Christ, who Jesus is, we see clearly the cross as Jesus tells of his upcoming death. And we see why Jesus came, we see the Christian, what it takes to identify with Jesus. And we also see very clearly the consequences, the results of denying yourself over against the results of denying Jesus. Now, some of us may still feel like we're in a bit of a fog sometimes when it comes to the things of God, for many persons, that the knowledge of God and of salvation doesn't come instantaneously, or with absolute clarity. It comes more at first as though they're, you know, the trees are kind of walking around, and we aren't totally blind anymore. We sense that there's something special about Jesus. We're aware that there's a God of some sort there, and that he's up to something but it's not always easy to get it clear. And so it's very valuable. All right, we understand that Jesus does help us to see more clearly. And it's very valuable to that Jesus had such dim widths for disciples, and still has them width for disciples. Because when we see the blundering and the fumbling and what's going on? Yeah, he maybe thinks we didn't bring enough bombs along today, you know, that that kind of dimness that the disciples had. We're not entirely free of that problem yet. And so it's a great comfort to know that Jesus helps us to see more clearly. First thing that we see more clearly in the, in the descriptions that follow right here at the very center of the gospel of Mark, is, we see the Christ who Jesus is. And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of seseri, of Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, Who do people say that I am? And they told him, John the Baptist, another, say, Elijah, and others, one of the prophets. And he asked them, But who do you say that I am? Peter answered him, You are the Christ. And he strictly charged them, to tell no one about him. There again, the Messianic secret, you finally got it clear. They're not just saying, Oh, it's a properties of this Caesar, that you're that Christ, you're the Messiah. And Jesus says, Don't tell anybody yet. Now, what Jesus does want, however, is for His own disciples to understand by now who he is, and to get very clearly who the Christ is. And the whole Gospel of Mark has been leading up to this mark shows us Jesus through the eyes of various people who run into him or who encounter him. What is this a new teaching and with authority, he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him? Who is this, that even the wind and the waves obey him, after he tells a story to be quiet? So you get these questions? What's going on? Who in the world is this? Now, Mark is not a very subtle author, in some ways, he is by getting by showing us Jesus through the eyes of those who had questions. But he does kind of tell us in the first verse, who Jesus is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, He's not waiting for the big reveal. The big moment to come out, he tells us right up front, who he's talking about, this is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And then he gives us various voices, commenting on this, Jesus, and we're still going to hear voices that are similar to that today.


At the baptism of Jesus, the voice of God, the Father Himself says, This is My beloved Son. He says it with love. This is my beloved Son, the demons state, the same fact that with a very different attitude, your God, don't hurt us. So you have God the Father lovingly stating who Jesus is, and you have the demons, stating the same facts, but with a very different attitude. That in itself does reveal something that, that it is possible even have the faith of demons where you recognize as a fact that Jesus is the Son of God, but it's not the Beloved Son of God to you. Well, his family says at one point, he's out of his mind. The scribes say, yeah, there is something supernatural and amazing going on with this dude. All right. He is possessed by Beelzebub the prince of demons. The crowds say, Whoa, he can talk like nobody ever taught. He's like one of those prophets of old. We haven't had a prophet like that for a while. Herod says, Man, John the Baptist is back. I chopped his head off, and here he is, again. I knew there was something spooky about that guy. Because when he listened to Johnny kinda liked to listen to me really didn't want to kill him. But he was such a knucklehead that he promised anything up to half his kingdom. And so he handed John the Baptist head to his wife's daughter on a platter, but now John's back, at least in Herod's opinion, and so these are some of the opinions that are floating around before Jesus asks that question, Who do people say that I am? Peter says, You are the Christ, you're the Messiah. You're the Anointed One, the One anointed to be God's prophet, and freeze, and King and deliver. You're the Christ, the Son of the living God. And very shortly after that, then Jesus is transformed or transfigured and light shines from him. And the great prophets, Moses and Elijah come from him. eminence, speak with him on the mountain. And the voice of God once again says, This is My beloved Son, listen to him. blind Bartimaeus cries out Son of David, have mercy on the son of David, have mercy on me. And he's not just saying son of David, because he knows that way back when David is in Jesus family line, son of David is the title of the Messiah, the expected deliverer. And what does Jesus himself say? Well, he's always keeping this Messiah thing a secret, until, until he's asked by his worst enemy, the high priest, Are you the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the blessing? And Jesus said, I am. Of course, I am, may mean even more than just Yes, of course, yes means the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One, but I am who I am, is the name of God himself. So, when you when Jesus finally states who he is, it is when he has been whipped, and he is on trial, and about to be crucified, finally, it's safe, to state very clearly who he is the cross, the sign on it says, this is the king of the Jews. And at the foot of the cross, the one who presided over the killing of Jesus says, After Jesus dies, Truly this man was the Son of God. MARC records a lot of different voices about Jesus. Which of those voices is speaking the truth? The voice of God from heaven, the voice of Jesus himself saying, I am the voice of Peter saying, You are the Christ, or the ones who are saying, Oh, he's a nutcase. He's demon possessed? Well, no, he's pretty good guy, you know, better profit than normal. There are all these opinions. But there's only one truth. And amid the opinions, is the truth. You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. And each of us needs to weigh that because we live in an age sometimes we call it we're totally, it's the post modern age, where there are lots of different opinions. There is no firm truth anymore. This is alleged to be something new and unprecedented situation. Oh, come on. We have always been a world full of conflicting opinions, and a variety of gods, and a variety of ways of seeing. But who do you say that I am? You can say, Oh, we live in such an age and it's postmodern, or it's this rich that the question still comes down to this? Okay. What about you? There are lots of opinions, you've told me what those opinions are now,


what do you say? got clear in your mind yet? Who am I? And when Peter says, You are the Christ, then Jesus acknowledges that he is. We're told in another gospel, he says, Blessed are you because flesh and blood didn't reveal this to you. But it was revealed to you by My Father in heaven. So it is definitely a revelation of God that helps Peter to see this much. And to see this clearly. But then Jesus says, Now don't tell anybody. Now, in a moment, we'll see exactly why they weren't supposed to tell anybody. Because the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, is a very misleading fact, if you have a certain notion of Messiah, in your head, if you've got this whole idea of what to deliver, what the Savior is going to be like what he has to be like, then when you're told that he is that, then you say, Well, that's nice, he filled in my blank. Now I knew what he was going to be all along. Now I just got to tack the word Jesus onto that, and we're good to go. And that's about the stage that Peter is at right now. He's been expecting a Messiah. And it's dawned on him that this guy is the one. But he does not understand what's involved in being a Messiah. And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed. And after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took them aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter, and said, Get behind Me, Satan. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. Peter rebukes Jesus. Think about that for a minute. He rebukes him. He rebukes Jesus. He says to him, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. And now I've got a few things I'd like to straighten you out on not the last time that's happened. There are a good many of us who have our own notions of how God ought to operate, what his plans ought to be like how things ought to unfold. And if God's ways are not our ways, God ought to take a few lessons from because we are so smart. We know so much. We'll help him along a little bit here. Now, can you see why Jesus didn't want people to know Him as Messiah? Peter, the moment he's got Messiah really locked in his mind, he knows one thing that doesn't mean, it does not mean the leaders of the Jewish people are going to reject Him. It means that he is going to be acclaimed by them, because Messiah don't get rejected by the most important people of the nation that came to rescue. messiahs trial triumphed over the Roman enemies. And Messiah is get rid of the problems that you have messiahs don't get rejected by those who know what's going on. And messiahs don't get killed. And Peter knows this with absolute certainty. And so he rebukes Jesus. And Jesus rebukes him and calls him, Satan. Just a moment earlier, Jesus had said, Oh, Peter, blessed are you flesh and blood, haven't revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven, and a moment later, he's saying, shut up, Satan, and just get behind me. I don't listen to you, Satan, because he hears in the words of one of his best friends, the very same words that were speaking to him in the desert, hey, how about a shortcut? This should never happen to you, you didn't come into the world to die, you came into the world to rain, and have I got a deal for you. You can rain right now. Without any cross, any suffering whatsoever. And Jesus says, That's how Satan thinks. And that's how fallen humanity in the grip of Satan thing, thinks you're not setting your mind on the things of God. But on the things of man.


The cross remains a blur to them, even after Jesus tells them about the cross. And Jesus doesn't just do it one time, or two times three times in the Gospel of Mark, he very explicitly says, Now the Son of Man is going to be rejected by the leaders is going to be killed, and then he's going to rise again. And does this come as a Revelation where the disciples say, oh, it's crystal clear. Now I understand why you came, I understand what you're going to do Jesus. Now here are the three reactions to Jesus three statements about His coming, suffering and death. The first time he says he's going to die. Peter, rebuke Sam. The second time he tells his disciples that he's going to die, the disciples are scratching their heads, and they're saying, oh, man, what in the world? Is he talking about? I don't know. And boy, he didn't seem very happy last time, we were so confused. So let's not ask him about at this time, and maybe you won't get mad, I will say by the way, who do you think of us is going to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? That sounds like a good theological discussion that you know that other one, you know, we don't know about that. We don't want to ask Jesus about that. But we do know something we're really interested in, who do you think is going to be taxed? Well, that's an excellent reaction to the revelation that the Son of God is going to die. A nice argument about which of you is going to be number one. And then there's the third time, Jesus says, Now, I'm going to suffer and die, and then rise again. And the intelligent reaction this time is that his other two closest friends, not theater this time, but James and John, come up and say, Lord, you think you can reserve a throne for one of us on one side of you and the other on the other side of your throne in your kingdom? We'd like a share of the majesty. Do these guys have their hearing aids off it? He says, I'm going to die and they're say, we'd like to be on the thrones next to you. The cross is just a total blur. Jesus can say it, and say it and say it. And it does not sink in. They cannot bear and when it does finally happen. They all run away. It catches them still totally off guard after all the warnings because the cross is just something that is so foreign, and so strange and so ridiculous. That they can't put up with it. It just stays a blur in their minds. And if it stayed a blur in the minds of those who were told, in no uncertain terms why Jesus came. It's not hard to imagine why Jesus wouldn't want the crowds. and others not to think of him as the Messiah, the appointed Savior just yet, because they would totally misunderstand. Now after Jesus dies and rises again, then he says, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all nations. But the full gospel is that Christ died for our sins according to the scripture, and that he rose again from the dead, according to the scripture, and you really can't preach the gospel until you have a cross and resurrection. All too often. People want a Christ without a cross. You might say, well, this is, you know, this is history. It's impossible to make that mistake. Now, we know what happened. You know, we can see why Peter, and these other guys blew it because they were still only partway through the story. And we we've got the benefit of 2020 hindsight, we can see crystal clear that Jesus suffered and died, we're not going to pull a dense move like Peter not because we're much smarter. But hey, we've got the books. You know, we know what happened. Well, just take a couple of examples. Islam denies that Jesus died, they also deny that he was the Son of God, but they said he was a great prophet. So it is possible even knowing the full historical record, just to say, No, didn't happen, couldn't happen. God would never let that happen to one of his great prophets, and story, somebody else died on that cross. And in that case, greater vision is needed alumna and Sana is a person who is a great scholar, and historian at Yale, and he grew up as a Muslim and Africa. And he was taught that Jesus was a great prophet. And he was taught that Jesus didn't die on the cross, but that somebody else did. And he just got to thinking, well, who was that somebody else? And if so, what were they doing on that path? And what if it was Jesus that died on that cross? And he got to thinking and thinking and think he had no real other people to talk to about it much. But you got to thinking and thinking and the and all of a sudden, everything began to make sense to him. If it was Jesus, who died on that car.


By the way, he then became a Christian and applied to some neighboring churches to see if they would baptize him and none of them would, because they were too scared of what might happen if they baptized him. So we'll get to that later. But people don't want to pick up the cross and carry it with Christ. So we believe in the cross comes hard to some people and then being willing to carry the cross also comes very hard.


What about us? You know, we're here today, nobody here is going to deny that Jesus died on the cross.


And in American culture, most people will accept the story that Jesus of Nazareth died on a cross. If you just look at our culture for a moment, we plan and celebrate and work our way up and up and up and up


to the Christmas season. And the Good Friday service or the evening before Good Friday, when we have our service that's


a little more sparsely attended, shall we say? And there's not all the hullabaloo leading up to it. We're in a time of length now, for some people. Yeah. That to something those Catholics do once in a while. Yeah. Oh, Christmas has to. But the question, you know, the question isn't so much whether the seasons are required, they're not. The question is, which really has a grip on us. We sometimes shy away from the cross, and all that goes with it. But it was a suggestion from Satan, that Jesus not go to the cross, because that was God's plan. And to deviate from God's plan is the voice of Satan. And why wasn't God's plan? That's another reason we don't like the cross. We want a deliverer who deals with our problems and our enemies. We do not want to hear you are your own worst enemy. You've met the enemy, and it's you. And I'm here to deal with what's wrong with you. Not what's wrong with a stinking Romans, not what's wrong with the people of those bad political parties, not what's wrong with the lobbyists for immorality in our society, the first thing I tend to deal with is what's wrong with you? And what's wrong with you is so wrong, that I have to die for you to pay for it, you are a mess. Well, that was inspiring. And that's why many, many people have an allergic reaction to the cross of Jesus, that He would have to die for us that something so awful would happen to the one we might identify with our leader. And so the cross and its meaning contend to remain a blur, but when Jesus fixes that, then we begin to see why he died as our substitute as the one who takes our penalty and our punishment on himself. So we want to see more clearly Clearly the Christ who Jesus is the cross, which is why Jesus came. And then Jesus goes on to show us clearly the Christian what it takes to identify with him. And the consequences, the results of denying self versus denying Jesus, calling the crowd to him with his disciples, He said to them, If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross. And follow me. A couple of statements about that. If you understand the cross, and the Bible's teaching about the cross, you understand that Jesus is our substitute that he did for us what we could not do for ourselves, that He died a death in our place and suffered the wrath of God, so that we would not have to suffer the wrath of God, He is our substitute. He is our Savior. But these words of Jesus tell us that he is not only our substitute, and not only our Savior, He is also our leader, our pioneer, our model. And so when he takes the cross, He is not just doing something instead of us. He is calling us to do the same. He left us an example that we should follow in his steps is what Peter later wrote, and he was talking about the crops that we suffer in his steps. Christian is just applying the name of the anointed one to us and saying, in a sense, we're anointed ones to we're Christians. But Jesus also makes it very clear that we are cross gins. We are people, not only who are anointed by His Holy Spirit, but we must bear his cross, if we are to follow him at all, every Christian is a cross Jen, or you're not a Christian. That's the plain implication of these words. No, what does it mean? To take up our cross and to deny ourselves? Well, it is obviously very vital to who it is what it means to be a Christian, the apostle Paul said, we are children, if we're children, and we're heirs heirs of God and CO heirs with Christ,


if we share in his sufferings, that we may also share in His glory, if we share in his sufferings, that we may also share in His glory. Paul says, I want to know Christ and many of us associate, knowing Christ maybe with our devotions, with our sweetest frame, where we are in our moods of closeness to God, and certainly, that may be part of knowing God. But Paul says, I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship, of sharing in his sufferings. When we look for communion with Christ, with closeness, with a sense of belonging to him, and being very near to him, do we look for it in sufferings, the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, that's not the kind of fellowship we were hoping for. We were hoping for the fellowship of the warm, fuzzy variety, where we're feeling really close to him, and he's just blessing our hearts with joy, peace and satisfaction. I'm not making light of the joy, peace and satisfaction of smoking on other occasions of those tremendous blessings from the Holy Spirit. But the fellowship of sharing his sufferings in a being prostrations is very important. What's involved, well, maybe take the most obvious first, to deny yourself means to deny your sinful self, say, I don't want to be wallowing in sin anymore. I don't want that guilt anymore. I want a new self. Now, to pause just at that point, a moment we want a new self and the Bible speaks of that as being born again, and having a new self and it is wonderful. Let's not forget the flip side of being born again. Before you're born again. You die. You must die. before you're born again, you must die to an old self before a new self is given to you. You must take up a cross. And when you take up that cross beam, you're headed towards execution. And the old self has got to die, that the new self might live. You deny your sin, but in denying your sin that's not all you do you deny your righteousness. You deny what's good about you. You deny the things about you that might in your own humble opinion, Merit God's approval. And you say when I'm at my best, I am a filthy mouth. All my righteousness is like filthy rags. The apostle Paul says oh, I'm a Hebrew Hebrews. I've been keeping the law it since I was a little kid. I've been doing this I've been doing that it's all garbage compared to the surpassing greatness of getting Christ. So you're not just say, Okay, I've got this vise and it is kind of stinky. Anyway, I hope Jesus will save me from that. And I hope he'll straighten this out and that as well, and I do feel kind of guilty about those things. So I'd like to clean them up anyway. Sure, that's important. Give up the sins, you know. And now give up the righteousness to give up on anything that you think puts you in a position to have claims on God and say, God, you owe me. I've done this, and this, and this, and this and all I get from you is a lot of us. You know, the first question many people ask when something bad happens in their life is why me? Why not? That's not a very compassionate answer. That's the first thing I that's not the first thing I'd say to somebody who's really struggling, or suffering when they're in the midst of it. The Bible says weep with those who weep the lettuce, lettuce recognize now that we're in a congregation what that tells us about our own hearts, why me, we think we have a claim, to happiness, to God's blessing forever. If we just give up on our own righteousness and say, God, I have no claim on you whatsoever. Please, just credit Jesus righteousness to me, because I don't have any other ground for being right with you on Christ, the solid rock, I


stand on my own righteousness, that sinking sand. Another thing about denying the self life is denying what makes sense to you. We live in an age that worships the human intellect, and the right to think for yourself. And we're told that if you simply accept what God says, you're leaving your brain at the church door. That's a really common cliche. Now, among the the smart set, who say, you know, it's so dumb just to believe what the Bible says, And so dumb to believe what your preachers and parents have brainwashed you to believe, believe what we say instead, and you're thinking for yourself? Oh, yeah, you're not thinking for yourself, just because you believe what some other schmo told you. And if you if you did manage, by some miracle, to think for yourself, who promoted you to being the greatest intellect in the universe? Who told you that you understand the ways of God, the ways of God, your brain is smaller than the brain of a gnat, compared to the mind of God. And so part of denying yourself is denying what makes sense to you, and what standards God has to meet in order to prove his truth to you. You've just got to believe God's revelation and Jesus, if God says, This is my son, this is how I'm saving by ordaining the cross and resurrection, then you better construct your whole intellectual system around that. Rather than using your intellectual system to measure that, you better just kill your whole old mindset and say, No, when I try to evaluate god, I've got things backward. God has revealed Himself in Jesus, I'm going to deny what makes sense to my natural mind, and listen to the mind of God. It also means you got to do to deny your desires, and goals. Instead, join Jesus mission and follow where he leads, a lot of us are born or, or grew up wanting this or wanting that. And as we want those things, how often do we ask, What does God want? You know, what job you want in the future? Is that what God wants for you or not? If so great. But consider, there might be a different possibility. There may be various objectives you have. But if they're not God's objectives for you, then you've got to give them up. Even if they're not sinful. Certain things are okay for somebody else, but they were not God's plan for you. And if you come to that realization, then you have to follow the Lamb. wherever He leads, as the Bible phrases that you follow Him, wherever leaves, no matter what your desires and goals were, if Peter, James and John had interview, we're gonna really be top notch fishermen, maybe expand the business gets an extra employees and then retire and live large for a few years. Well, they may have had something like that in mind didn't work out that way. If you follow Jesus, he may call you into something totally different from what your previous plans were. And related to that is, sometimes you're not just denying your sin anymore. You're denying what would be legitimate pleasure, or comfort or safety, because you're called into something that you're going to be taking some shots for people gonna get angry at you, you're gonna be taking risks, sometimes very dangerous ones. Pain, shame, death. In short, you deny the self life and instead, you have the Christ life. Which of those two is better to have? You can't have both at the same time. If you want self on the throne, then you will get what self can do. And just one word of warning. It's not you your real self. That is not who God designed you to be. So when you put self on the throne, all of a sudden, you have lost your real self. And Jesus goes on to talk about the consequences of either denying self or denying him, whoever would save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospels will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what come and give in return for his soul, for whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him with a son of man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels?


Two questions. What are you afraid of? What are you ashamed of? Those two questions will tell us volumes about ourselves. If the thing you're most afraid of, is losing the life, you've mapped out for yourself, or losing somebody close to you, or losing your own health and comfort, if those are the things that are the greatest fears that you have. Jesus has news, you're going to lose them. You will, death will claim everybody moss and rust, consume an awful lot. We're going to lose those things that we think we're trying to preserve for our life. So if those are what you're afraid of, well, you're going to lose them anyway. But if you're still seeking yourself, you're going to lose it, plus, you're going to lose everything else, you're going to lose your own soul. You lose your own identity. Even in this life, when you're just trying to grab and get when you're trying to stay comfortable and play it safe. You spend your 70 or your 80, or you're 90 years playing it safe. And then you're dead anyway. You played it safe, you played it safe, you played it safe, and you lost it all. I remember the story of the the talents, the one guy plays it safe and buries it in the ground and loses it and himself forever. Playing it safe doesn't cut it. Play it safe is the least safe thing you can do. If you will not risk it all you will lose it all. That's what Jesus is saying. And what are you embarrassed? What embarrasses you? When people look at you, or laugh at you? Is that the most shameful thing that can happen? Do you need the approval of others that much? When you need other people's approval that much. You don't have a self, you just have a mask, a mask that you manipulate, to get the approval of something that you're not anyway, what they're approving of is not the real you. So why did you go to all that trouble to be such a poser, and a pretender. So you lose it. If you try to hang on to that self and the good opinion of everybody around you. You gain your true self when you follow Jesus, because that's who you were meant to be anyway, you were meant to be somebody who dares to be somebody who follows the Lamb wherever He leads, who takes the risks and does the things and accomplishes the great things even in death that others only dare to dream of. Do not fear the ones who can destroy the body. And after that can do no more fear who can destroy both body and soul and hell. What does it profit to gain the whole world and lose your soul? If you're like the rich farmer who laid up all the wealth for himself and says, ah, early retirement, eat, drink and be merry. And God says, fool tonight your soul is required of you, then who's going to get all the stuff? Somebody else is going to get the stuff and you are going to get a very unpleasant eternity because you only thought of yourself. whoever is ashamed of me, of him will I be ashamed? Do you want this wicked and adulterous generation to be the measuring stick of what you want to be embarrassed about? A lot of us are really concerned about the opinion of the wicked and the adulterous. Why worry about the opinion of a wicked and adulterous generation? Would you rather have the Son of Man and The Son of God say on the Day of Judgment, I never knew you. What are you doing here? Away from me you workers of iniquity. You wanted to identify with a wicked and adulterous generation. You may go with the wicked and the adulterous those Jesus says are the consequences? Well, we're not just looking at trees walking around anymore are we? It's not just long fuzzy blobs. Many folks refer their religion to be fuzzy, clarity as offensive Clarity Calls for decision not for meandering around in a fog, the Christ, the Son of the living God, who came to die in our place and to save us, and who calls us to walk the path of the cross and warns of the eternal consequences if we choose self over the cross. That is the gospel in its clarity. And having said all that, let me just add one more thing.


The comfort, if your site is still kind of blurry, if you're still like, Peter, James and John and your modeling, there's good news if Jesus has laid his hand upon you, if a little bit of his spirit is on you, if you're starting to see He who began a good work and you will bring it to completion. Now, if you deny Him, He will deny you on the final day. But don't forget, Peter denied Him and was not denied on the final day. Because Peters denial of Jesus was wrong, but it was not final. When he heard the rooster crow, the tears began to run from his eyes, and he repented. And Jesus restored him. Later on. Peter made a grievous blunder when he was acting as though the gospel was not by grace, and he was separating himself from other people so that he could have the approval of a wicked and adulterous generation. And Paul got up and rebuilt him to his face. And again, Peter repented. And Peter went on to write, that Christ died for our sins, the righteous for the unrighteous that he might bring us to God. He called us to suffer, that we might follow in his steps. And Peter himself literally went to the cross, and died on a cross in loyalty to his savior. The comfort is, even though you're blundering, even though your eyes are blurry, if you're in the hand of Christ, and in the company of Christ, you will not finally fall. If you look to Him, there may be many things you do not understand. But understand this, he never lets go those for his own. Nobody can snatch him. Nobody can snatch you from his hand, but you must be in his hand. And so don't let that comfort. Soften what you understand what the consequences the consequences are final and terrible for those who reject the Christ, and reject His cross. But for those who see somewhat dimly but see, and who follow him perfectly, but follow. The end is perfect light, perfect seeing face to face, and glory forever. Lord, we pray that you will help us to see more clearly. Lord, we believe, help our unbelief. We pray, Lord, that we may with our whole heart, praise, adore and worship you as the Christ, the Son of the living God. with our whole heart, we may accept the sacrifice of the cross given for us. And then take up the cross, deny ourselves and follow you in obedience and love. It help us Lord to live in awareness of the consequences of the blessing of consequences of being owned by you and claimed by you on that final day. We pray in Jesus name, Amen.

Last modified: Tuesday, March 15, 2022, 10:20 AM