A Different Kind of Kingdom, a Different Kind of King / Matthew 16:21-28 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday August 30th 2020 / Season Of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday August 30th: Season of Pentecost / Matthew 16:21-28 “A Different Kind of Kingdom, a Different Kind of King”
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.”
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. Today’s Gospel reading picks up where last week’s Gospel reading left off: After Saint Peter’s confession about who Jesus truly is where by a revelation from God the Father in heaven Peter identified Jesus to be the Son of Man, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, a confession of faith upon which Jesus’ Church would be built, the Rock that the gates of hell will never prevail against. You could say that that was the key that opened the door for Jesus to begin teaching Peter and the disciples what it actually meant that He, that is Jesus, was is and ever shall be, “the Son of Man, the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” And what that means clearly isn’t what Saint Peter expected it to mean. In fact what Jesus began to teach them must have seemed like a hard left hand turn from the course they thought they were on. It was from the time of Saint Peter’s confession that Jesus began to show His disciples that He, Jesus, 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 who it seemed was doing so well at this point falls down, trips up. He hits a very limited 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 the clever Peter, who thinks he knows best, pulls Jesus aside to present his reasoned response to what Jesus was teaching and in an effort to set Jesus back on what he thinks is the straight and narrow Peter says to Jesus, “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.” Peter is thinking of the Kingdom of God in earthly terms, a golden throne, with armies and chariots, with boarders and diplomats Peter’s view of the Kingdom of God misses the mark, he can’t see yet what Jesus is teaching him.
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 God 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 seemed to “have it all together.” But as you remember from last week the Rock of Faith is not the man Peter, Peter becomes a living stone not based on the working of his intellect, his reason, but by the work of Christ Jesus the Cornerstone the Living Stone from which Peter, and you and I are all quarried and hewn. If you suppose to contradict God’s Word based on your personal reasoning and intellect, based on what you think or feel the Kingdome should be like, you will fail. Peter is learning this here in our Gospel today and we like Saint Peter are given many lessons in this throughout our life in Christ. This is a lesson in humility.
The words of last week’s epistle reading from Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans may still be ringing in your 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." Peter is quickly given his wake up call from Jesus – and here we see clearly that Peter is no plaster saint - He slips and falls down like all the faithful and needs forgiveness as much as you and I or any Christian. At this point Peter doesn’t understand what Jesus is trying to teach him, that the forgiveness by which he is being forgiven comes from Jesus’ very blood. Jesus is teaching them that by the shedding of His precious blood by the elders and chief priests and scribes who would plot to and succeed at having Him killed, that they would be saved and that on the third day this same Jesus would then be raised from the dead to life everlasting the first fruits of the dead.
Right in the middle of this teaching Peter, you and I and all of Jesus’ disciples are being called to take up our cross and follow Jesus. Follow Him to His crucifixion and beyond. But what does this even mean? And how was crucifixion understood at that time? Normally a crucifixion would indicate a shameful and publicly embarrassing death, a dishonour to your family and community. Normally hardened criminals and the leaders of rebellions faced this painful and terrible death. It was for the guilty, it was a dire warning to those who watched of what would come to them if they broke the law. When the elders and chief priests and scribes, the Pharisees and Sadducees, handed Jesus over to be crucified and demanded that the Roman Governor Pontius Pilot do as they requested they meant for Jesus’ crucifixion to be a dressing down, a public humiliation, they meant to send this upstart Jesus to the lowest seat in the Roman province of Palestine, they meant to put Jesus amongst the garbage, the dead, amongst those relegated to hell, the burning trash heap. There was nothing lower. Yet, “The LORD lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked to the ground.” The crucifixion was not going to be what the elders and chief priests and scribes, the Pharisees and Sadducees expected and Jesus’ death was not going to be what Saint Peter expected either.
In the Gospel of John 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 who is The Son of Man says, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He," that is you will know that this Jesus is the Christ. In these verses Jesus points to His cross and passion, to His crucifixion - that place where He is lifted up, that fountain head of judgment and mercy; where the Son of Man can be found coming into His kingdom: What was meant to be an instrument of torture and death, a relegation to the burning trash heap of society was in actuality, in retrospect, something entirely opposite. The chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people were seeking to cancel Jesus right out of their midst but this is not what the crucifixion would end up being. Christ Jesus, the Son of God, the Son of Man is crowned with thorns, lifted up and enthroned upon His wooden throne, the cross, that cursed tree, pined to it by iron nails yet in that very moment He was not being canceled He was actually being revealed to be “the Son of Man, the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” He was being revealed to be the true King of Israel, King of the Jews, King of kings and Lord of lords. This was not a dressing down but a dressing up, this was a coronation. And prophetically, 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.”
The disciple Judas who betrayed Jesus didn’t live to see The Day of the Crucifixion; from Scripture we know that Judas hung himself on his own tree and died. Scripture doesn't tell us that Peter witnessed the crucifixion with his own eyes, but unlike Judas Peter waited for the Lord and the resurrected Jesus lifted Peter out of the miry bog of his denial of Jesus and forgave him. Saint John, Scripture tells us, did see Jesus "coming in[to] His kingdom." It was John who stood at the foot of Christ Jesus' wooden throne, at the foot of the cross, at the foot of that broken and cursed tree which would in the Easter Resurrection be transformed into a tree of blessing, and it was John who looked up with the Virgin Mary, Jesus' mother, who saw her son crowned with thorns: And on That Day Jesus' blood poured out 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. He saw the words from our Gospel reading today come to pass, he saw “the Son of Man coming in His kingdom,” and this same Saint John saw a foretaste of the Son of Man coming with His angels in the glory of His Father, to “repay each person according to what he has done.”
In the shade of that tree, in the court of this King, there were two men crucified next to the Prince of Peace, next to the King of Kings, next to the Lord of lords. Scripture tells us about this King’s 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. They didn't understand that Jesus was denying Himself to save you, that Jesus was denying Himself in order to receive you as His own, by His shed blood. They could not see that Jesus was becoming the firstfruits of Salvation. And there in the court of this different kind of King with these two men “seated” on Jesus’ left and right crucified there with Jesus Saint John was about to witness another part of our Gospel reading today come to pass. Where Jesus repays those for what they have done.
One of the criminals crucified there with Jesus railed at [Jesus], saying “are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal crucified on the other side of Jesus 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 indeed coming into His kingdom and the forgiveness, the mercy that this repentant 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.
Think on what 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 who had railed at Jesus saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” was not seeking forgiveness, he was not repentant, presumably he just wanted to get out of his situation to continue living his life as he had previously been living it. Remember what Jesus teaches in the Gospel today, "For whoever would save his life will lose it" With these two criminals crucified next to Christ Jesus you see the fulfilment of what Jesus says and a you are provided with a foretaste of The Final Day of judgement: The results of trust in Christ as compared to trust in yourself and a desire to go on living as you like without Christ. “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Christ the King enthroned in His glory brings His recompense, repays faith with forgiveness and yet also punishes wickedness. This is the court of the Lord.
Remember 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 Paul 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." This is what Jesus was beginning to teach to Peter and the rest of the disciples in our Gospel today the lesson Peter was slow to learn because his eyes were fixed on earthly things.
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.
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 and what Jesus’ kingdom should be like: 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 1:7
 Psalm 147:6
 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
 Psalm 40:1
 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
 Luke 24:45-49