The Cross - Jesus Comes into His Kingdom: Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost - Matthew 16:21-28 / Pastor Ted Giese
The Cross - Jesus Comes into His Kingdom: Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost - Matthew 16:21-28 / Pastor Ted Giese
From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to Me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
(Matthew 16:21-28 ESV)
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. "From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised." From what time? From that time! From that time when Peter identified Jesus to be the Son of Man, the Christ, the Son of the Living God. From that time when Peter confidently made the confession of faith upon which the church would be build, the Rock that the gates of hell will never prevail against. That time. From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. Jesus is explaining, teaching them about what will come and then Peter who was doing so well misses the mark. He hits a human wall of reason - if the LORD is eternal, all knowing, all powerful then the LORD cannot die and if Jesus is the Son of the Living God - the second person of the Holy Trinity - if Jesus is God - if Jesus is the LORD (That I just confessed Him to be) than Jesus can't die. And Peter who loves being the star pupil presents his reasoned response to what Jesus is teaching the disciples and pulling Jesus aside Peter rebukes Jesus saying “Far be it from You, Lord!" Mercy no! "This shall never happen to You.” But it must happen ... and Jesus knows it. And just as Jesus shot down the temptations of the devil in the wilderness after His baptism - Jesus turned toward Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to Me." Adding that Peter was, "not setting [his] mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
In the span of seven verses Peter goes from being a Son of Faith with a confession revealed to him not by flesh and blood but by the Father who is in heaven to one speaking the words of Satan, a tempter, with nothing on his mind but the things of man. From the heights of heaven to the depths of hell. One step forward - two steps back. What a knock to the pride; What an affront to the ego; What a letdown for one who had it all together.
The words of Saint Paul from Romans ring in the ear, where Paul says, "by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned." Likewise the words from Peter's fellow disciple John come to mind, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, [God the Father] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Peter is quickly given his wake up call from Jesus - Peter is no plaster saint - He slips and falls down like all the faithful and needs forgiveness as much as you and I and all Christians. As John says this forgiveness comes from "the blood of Jesus [God the Father's] Son [and it] cleanses us from all sin." It is the blood Jesus is teaching them that He will shed for them when He is killed, it is also the blood that is raised up with Jesus on the third day that first Easter morning, the same blood we miraculously receive in Holy Communion this morning. At the cross our innocent Jesus - the LORD - God - will be in the hands of angry men and they will kill Him, but their victory will be short lived and the true victory over death will be revealed when Jesus is raised up.
This is the road before Jesus as He teaches His disciples and it is the way upon which His disciples are being called to take up their cross and follow Him. Follow Him to His crucifixion. In the verses just before the famous John 3:16 verse “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." Jesus says, "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life." Later in the Gospel of John, Jesus - The Son of Man says, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He." In these verses Jesus points to His cross and passion, to His crucifixion - that place where He is lifted up, to that place where, "the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father," that fountain head of Judgment and mercy; where "the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." Christ Jesus, the Son of God, the Son of Man crowned with thorns, lifted up and enthroned upon His wooden throne, the cross, the cursed tree, pined to it by iron nails. And in this passage today Jesus says that, "there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” All but one of His disciples lived to see the day of the crucifixion, one Scripture tells us was an eye witnesses to it. From Scripture we know that Judas did not live to see it - He hung himself on his own tree. Scripture doesn't tell us that Peter witnessed the crucifixion with his own eyes, rather Scripture tells us that Peter denied Jesus three times as Jesus was being tried and remembering what Jesus had said to him Peter "went out [from the place of his denial] and wept bitterly." John, Scripture tells us, did see Jesus "coming in[to] His kingdom." John stood at the foot of Christ Jesus' throne, at the foot of the cross, at the foot of that broken and cursed tree that in the resurrection would become a tree of blessing, and he looked up with the virgin Mary, Jesus' mother, and saw her son crowned with thorns, Jesus' blood shedding for John's sin, for Peter's sin, for Judas' sin, for the sin of the virgin Mary, for my sin and for yours. John looked up and witnessed the fruit of forgiveness growing on that terrible tree.
In the shade of that tree, in the court of the king, two men were crucified next to the Prince of Peace, next to the King of Kings, next to the Lord of lords. Scripture tells us about this kings court. It tells us that the soldiers who had enthroned Jesus upon the cross, the ones who had lifted Him up mocked Him along with the rulers of the people, "coming up and offering [Jesus] sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” They didn't understand that Jesus was denying Himself to save you, that He was disowning Himself to own you with His shed blood. That He was becoming the firstfruits of Salvation. Scripture tells us there "was also an inscription over Him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at [Jesus], saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked [the first criminal], saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And [Jesus] said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” That very hour Jesus was coming into His kingdom and the forgiveness, the mercy that the second criminal sought after he received from Jesus that same hour: Remember Jesus said, "For the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay each person according to what he has done." The thief on the cross with repentance asked for mercy and he was repaid with forgiveness, for the glory of the Father is grace, and mercy, patience, and steadfast love.
Jesus said, "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." The first criminal says to Jesus, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” Yet Jesus teaches, "For whoever would save his life will lose it" The second criminal is honest about the cross to which he is nailed and says to the first, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” Jesus teaches "whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." and He says to second man “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
This is repentance, confession of sin, and absolution, this is forgiveness. Jesus says, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me." Deny yourself, disown your love for sin and follow Jesus to His crucifixion, day in and day out. Follow Him to the place where Sin dies, where death dies, where Satan's head is crushed, where the World is judged, where your sinful flesh is crucified with Christ, where "those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." As saint Paul likewise says, follow Jesus to that place where, as he puts it, "I have been crucified with Christ." to that place where, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." To that place where "the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
To, "take up [your] cross and follow [Jesus]" is not about the work of carrying your cross it is about His cross for you, for Jesus says "Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Lay down the "the things of man," and in the grace of God's mercy and forgiveness at the foot of the cross take up "the things of God." Receive the forgiveness won for you by Jesus and His unmatched faithfulness. Stand at the foot of the cross with empty hands, your cross of sin laid upon Jesus, and remember His words to you today, "what shall a man give in return for his soul?" You have nothing to give - yet Jesus gives you Himself for heavenly food, as a beggar looking for a crumb to eat Jesus gives you Himself, from the cross, for He is the Bread of Life, He says to you today, “whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst."
When Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised, Peter thought this was wrongheaded, Peter could not understand it, it went against his ideas about what Jesus should be: But on the other side of the cross Peter was made to understand, following Jesus' resurrection from the dead Scripture tells us that "[Jesus] opened their minds, [the minds of the disciples, including our dear saint Peter] to understand the Scriptures, and [Jesus] said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you." When Jesus said to Peter “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to Me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Peter was not doomed, Peter was being called to a life of repentance and in Christ Peter was repentant, Peter was and is forgiven, in Christ you have your life of repentance and forgiveness too when your mind is on the things of men and not on the things of God. Live lives of repentance in Christ Jesus, receive His forgiveness. You are forgiven. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Romans 12:3
 1 John 1:8-9
 1 John 1:7
 John 3:16
 John 3:14-15
 John 8:28
 Acts 5:30, Acts 10:39
 Galatians 3:13, Acts 5:30, Acts 10:39
 Matthew 26:75
 Jesus' blood was shed for Judas too as it was shed for all people yet Scripture doesn't tell us that Judas trusted in that forgiveness rather it tells us that Judas took matters into his own hands and hung himself. Matthew 27:3-10 Yet God, "desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time." 1 Timothy 2:4-6 Peter denied Jesus and was later forgiven, that same forgiveness was available to Judas also as it is made available for all men women and children in Christ Jesus.
 1 Corinthians 15:20-23
 Luke 23:36-43
 Psalm 145:8 "The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love."
 Galatians 5:24
 Galatians 2:20
 Matthew 11:28-30
 John 6:35
 Luke 24:45-49