The Gospel According To Jesus - Week Five:

Today, we are continuing a sermon series that will take us through September as we explore the Gospel lectionary texts from Matthew.  

This sermon series will take us through some of the key teachings and lessons from the life of Jesus as recorded in Matthew’s Gospel—to hear the Good News directly from Jesus himself. 

Many people in our current culture claim to speak for Jesus, yet when you hold up what they are saying next to the actual words of Jesus, it doesn't add up.  

This is why it's important to go directly to the source and read Jesus's stories and teachings.  If we are going to call ourselves Jesus-followers, it makes sense to know what he wanted us to do to follow him more fully.  

Today, we will explore a passage where Jesus tells his followers that to save their lives, they need to be willing to lose them. 

And Peter says the absolute wrong thing for the wrong reasons. 

In this passage that we're going to read, Jesus makes a well-known statement even outside of church-y circles.  He asks his followers, "What will it profit a person if they gain the whole world but lose their soul?"

From this, we get the concept of "selling your soul," which has been part of legends and lore for centuries.  

The legend of Faust was part of German lore long before the story was popularized in plays, books, and operas.   Faust is a highly successful scholar who grows weary of his life and makes a pact with the Devil to give him all he desires in exchange for his soul. 

The story was re-told in many ways from the 15th to the 19th century and even made its way into American legend in the 1930s with the story of Robert Johnson, the great blues guitarist. 

It's also been the subject of movies like Devil's Advocate.  

Several years ago, someone put their soul on E-bay to raise some funds for something or another.  People actually bid on it.  

What makes these stories so compelling?  It's because we see ourselves in them a bit, right?  We all have desires to be more and better.  We all have longings for success, dreams of one day hitting the lottery, or at the very least, secret wishes that we could have everything we ever wanted.  

How much would you be willing to sacrifice for success?

What is it worth to you to find peace and fulfillment?

It is only after a person has been given everything that one has the chance to realize that everything might never be enough to really matter. - John Kaag 

And what if I told you the path to peace, fulfillment, and success in God's economy looks much different than you think it might?  Because in God's economy, losing your life is the way to save it.  

In fact, that's what I want us to hold on to today: 


Matthew 16:21-28

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Let's recap a bit to learn when and where this occurs... 

Jesus lets his disciples in on a little secret that had to be dismaying.  

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Notice how Peter and presumably the other disciples totally glossed over the whole "on the third day be raised to life" part?  

Peter pulls Jesus aside to set him straight.  Bad move.  He gets it completely wrong. 

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

"Get behind me, Satan!" What did Jesus mean by this?  Is he thinking about his 40 days in the wilderness after his baptism?

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 

"...deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me..." A symbol of unimaginable humility.  This doesn't look like success at all.  

26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 

Gaining the world---here's where the Temptation from the Satan comes in. 

27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Jesus speaks to his return---this was the hope of the day, immediacy.  

28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

The temptation of power, control, triumph and riches is so hard to resist.

The Church has failed in this---and continues to do so.  

Tolstoy - Brothers Karamazov.  The story of the Grand Inquisitor demanding Jesus show himself to be God, and Jesus kisses him... and is thrown out.  

Taking Up Our Cross/Losing Our Life

Genuine Love for Others 

Goodness and Perseverance in the face of evil. 

Patience in suffering, Exuberance in blessing. 

Letting go of bitterness/Rejecting retribution. 



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