Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Who Are You Following?

Mark 8:27-38

“And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am?

And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets.

And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ.

And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.” (Mark 8:27-30)

From Bethsaida, Jesus went north into Lebanon and Syria, to Philip’s capitol at Caesarea Philippi.  On the way, he asked his disciples who people thought he was.  They said that some, like Herod, thought he was John the Baptist come back from the dead.  Other people thought he was Elijah or one of the other prophets.  When he asked who they thought he was, Peter was quite adamant, that he was the Messiah.  Jesus instructed them not tell anyone so, but to let them figure it out for themselves.   

“And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.  And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.  But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.” (Mark 8:31-33)

Jesus began to explain that he was going to be rejected d by the religious leaders and eventually, they would kill him.  They were not to be concerned because three days later he would rise from the dead.  It was quite clear what he meant, and Peter interrupted him insisting that that couldn’t happen, because he was the man God had chosen and they would protect him. 

Jesus accused him of being led by Satan for wanting to prevent God’s plan from being fulfilled because he was only looking at what he told them from a carnal human perspective.  It was essential that Christ be crucified in order to atone for man’s sin and make salvation possible.  One can only wonder how many times, in our effort to protect someone, like Peter, we have allowed Satan to control us.  . For example, how many times have we rushed in to help someone financially when God was trying to teach them to take responsibility for themselves.  Even in our efforts to help others, we need to be sure we are doing it God’s way. 

“And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.  For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:34-37)

Jesus then assembled the whole crowd and began to address them.  He made the point that anyone who wanted to follow him, to be one of his disciples would have to give up his own agenda, as Luke 14 26 tells us.  “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”    If they would give up their agenda to serve him they would experience the richness of real life, but if they focused on getting what they wanted they would miss out.  The earthly things are only temporary, and it would be a poor choice to give up eternal life for earthly blessings.  There is nothing on earth worth trading for one’s soul.  It would be better to go through this life disabled and in poverty than to have great wealth and end up in hell for eternity. 

Mr 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38)

People who are afraid to choose Christ for fear they might have to go without things or be ashamed for their stance I this life will find God has no place for them in heaven when the Judgment comes.  

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