Sunday, 31 August 2008


Matthew 16: 21 - end

  • Jesus foretells his death and resurrection – the Cross and the denial of self that led to it.
    • Darker side of faith.
    • The price we have to be prepared to pay in order to be a follower of Jesus Christ
  • Immediately before this passage
    • Jesus is rejected as Messiah by Israel – God’s elect, the chosen people
    • So Jesus needs to establish a new community of faith
      • One that will acknowledge him as Messiah
      • One that will acknowledge his identity as Son of the Father
  • This process of establishing a new community starts with Peter’s Declaration
    • Some say you are John the Baptist, some Elijah, some Jeremiah, or one of the prophets
    • But who do you say I am? “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
  • After this declaration, revealed to Peter by God
    • Peter will found the church – the new community
  • This is the context for our reading today
    • Takes us to v21 which starts “From that time on…”
      • Jesus tells his disciples what must happen as a result of his rejection by the Jews and the need for them to form and found a new community
        • Jesus will suffer at the hands of the religious and secular authorities who have rejected him
        • This will lead to his death
        • But on the third day he will rise again
  • Before Jesus can warn his followers the same thing might happen to them
    • Peter steps in
      • Peter moves from his greatest moment, when he declares “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God” to
        • A moment that occasions Jesus’ most terrible condemnation
        • Jesus says to Peter “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me…”
    • What has caused this? Peter’s actual words mean something like
      • “May God in his mercy spare you this fate.”
      • Said out of compassion for the best of motives
    • So why the stern rebuke?
      • Jesus was not rebuking Peter, but Peter’s words and his motivation
        • He was thinking in a human way
        • Trying to prevent such a terrible fate happening to his master
        • But he represented a temptation to Jesus that might have diverted him from the way that led to salvation for the world
        • Hence he merited the stern rebuke, made to the force of evil which led him to say what he did rather than to Peter himself.
  • So what does it mean to us to be disciples? What does “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me” actually involve?
    • As it says in Romans 12
      • Let love be genuine. Love what is good. Hate what is evil.
      • Love one another. Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep.
      • Be patient in suffering. Bless those who persecute you. Associate with the lowly. Do not be haughty
      • Care for the poor. Be hospitable. Live in peace.
      • Do not repay evil for evil but overcome evil with good. Do not take vengeance. Live in harmony with others.
      • Be ardent in prayer
      • Do not be conformed to the things of this world but be transformed to the will of God.
        • Present your bodies to God as a living sacrifice.
        • This is not just a modification of what we are but
          • A complete renewal of our minds so we can discern the will of God
        • Not just conforming to a set of ideals but
          • A re-creation of our human minds
  • We cannot of course do these things through our own endeavours on our own but
    • As possessors of the Holy Spirit
    • Who will equip us to live lives ‘holy and acceptable to God’ – truly righteous.
    • This is truly the new life in Christ

Costly Grace
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ living and incarnate. Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: "ye were bought at a price," and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer The Cost of Discipleship

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