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Proper 17A

August 28, 2011

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Matthew 16:21-28


All of sudden Jesus whirls around and yells:  “Get behind me Satan!”  The devil?  Really?  Where?


The last place we’d ever look! 


An apostle!  And not just any apostle but the leader of the apostles:  Peter himself! 


Jesus looked Peter straight in the eye and demanded:  “Get behind me Satan!” 


That’s quite harsh wouldn’t you say?  Calling one of your apostles:  Satan?  Really Jesus?  That’s going just a bit too far!  Wouldn’t you agree?  Cut Peter some slack Jesus!  After all, last week he correctly confessed you to be the Christ the Son of the living God.  That was absolutely fabulous.  Now, all of sudden you call Peter the confessor, Satan?  You might want to rethink that Jesus – with all due respect.


“Not hardly!” Jesus declares!  “Peter has been co-opted.  He has become the mouthpiece and instrument of Satan himself.  Peter is content to have Me as the Christ the Son of the living God.  However, he dares to infallibly announce that he won’t ever be having Me do a Jerusalem!  He would prevent from suffering many things.  Forevermore put a stop to Me doing My Good Friday dying!  ‘Never, Lord!’  Peter pontificated!  ‘The divine Christ can never suffer and die!  He can never do Good Friday!  Peter would be delighted to not have a Good Friday or Easter Sunday Jesus!’”


Would you too?  Keep Him off the cross, that is?  Would you too block the road to Gethsemane and Golgotha?  Then you have in mind the things of men and not of God!  Try to halt Jesus from doing a Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and an Easter Sunday, then you too are the instrument of the devil himself.  In league with the great red dragon whose entire mission is to keep Jesus from crushing his head.  And so the words of Jesus apply to you: “Get behind me Satan!” 


Salvation is at stake!  Yours, mine, the world’s!  No bitter suffering, dead as a doornail, and gloriously risen Christ Jesus and there’s no salvation for sinners.  No shed blood of the divine Son of God on the altar of the cross and there’s no forgiveness for any sin.  Salvation is at stake!


So it’s time to repent!  Of our treating the Savior’s suffering, death, and resurrection like they are nothing!  It is time to die.  To all our desperate, well-meaning, but satanic attempts of preventing Jesus from the cross!  Time to die to all our insufferable attempts to justify ourselves.  Save ourselves in our own way!  Without the shed blood of the divine Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living God!  And without His rising from the dead.  If you insist on having a Jesus minus the cross and empty tomb, then you are still in your sins and all it will all end hellishly for you!     


But Jesus has suffered!  He has died with all your sin!  He has risen!  Just like He promised.  That’s what it means for Him to be the Christ!  That’s a Son of the living God job that only He could do and did!  For you!


So now what? 


Now the Cross of the Christ, the Son of the living God, shapes your lives.  Patterns your lives.  A disciple of Christ Jesus “finds his life” by . . . “losing it!” 


You have a life when you take up your cross and follow Jesus. 


And that simply means this: 

1) You believe the truth about yourself and then,

2) you believe the truth about Jesus Himself! 


What is the truth about yourself?  Warning!  It’s not pretty.  You are a sinner.  A rotten to the core sinner.  By nature lost in your selfish self.  A sinner that relentlessly seeks to assert yourself against God.  Even to prevail over Him.  A life centered on yourself. A sinner with the constant drive to be number one no matter who you hurt.  And that you as a sinner deserve nothing but God’s temporal and eternal punishment. 


Doesn’t that kill you to say confess such a thing?  Indeed.  And that’s the point!  The old Adam and old Eve brag about their accomplishments and records.  But old Adam and old Eve must be put to death!  Drowned.  Crucified.  Daily.  With all their sin and evil desires.  To take up your cross and follow Jesus is the daily search and destroy mission of the old Adam or Eve.  To do battle against sin and let it be where it belongs:  in Jesus death! 


So go ahead. Confess the truth about your sinful self.  Repent!  Turn away from that life of believing lies.  Lose the life of trusting in yourself.  For only when you lose that life do you find another!


And that’s a new life in Christ!  When you take up your cross and follow Jesus, you believe what He says.  He says that He is the suffering and dead Good Friday Christ!  The Easter Sunday Christ!  That He does it all for Peter, for the world, FOR YOU and for your salvation.  For the forgiveness of all your sins.  Only in this Christ Jesus are you saved.  You can gain the entire world, have all its toys, all its pleasures!  But without faith in Christ Jesus, there’s only one alternative:  the place prepared for the devil and all his angels. 


Faith’s reward is salvation.  A reward that is only by grace.  Salvation in Jesus!  He reveals His reign over us sinners in His suffering, death, and resurrection.  Peter saw that.  So did the other disciples.  They didn’t taste death, i.e. they didn’t die, before they saw Jesus’ words come true.  Jesus died on the Cross.  And from the Cross He reigns as the Christ, the divine Son of Man, winning a salvation for sinners like Peter, you and me.


And the benefits of His Cross here for you today.  Today Jesus whirls around and promises you this:  “I am the Christ, the Son of the living God!  So:  Eat.  Drink.  My Good Friday Body!  My Good Friday Blood!  For you!  Be of good cheer.  All your sin is forgiven!” 


In the Name of Jesus.            


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