Mark 8:27-38 -Lent 2

Sunday February 28, 2021

Trinity – Creston/Mount Ayr

Grace, mercy, and peace is yours from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Our text for this evening is the Gospel Lesson from Mark 8 that was just proclaimed.

Dearest Jesus: Send your Holy Spirit to remind us that your purpose was to become man, redeem us, and serve us with your gifts to maintain our faith. May our purpose in life enable us to remain in you and serve all you place in our lives with your eternal truth Amen.

Dear Fellow Redeemed in Christ:

When you have a purpose in life, you do things on purpose. If you have a goal, a reason, an aim in life, then you are going to do things intentionally to reach that purpose or goal.

So, what do people say might be a goal in their life? Well, one goal might be to make money so they can do what they want to do, go where they want to go, buy what they want to buy.

They want to have enough financial resources to have a nice house, a car to drive, or a comfortable retirement. So they get a job, they work, they do things intentionally in order to accomplish that purpose of making money.

Some people might say that they want power to be able to control their lives, to take charge of who they are and what they get to do and say. They want to say something and have other people do things for them. Some people simply want to have that control, those “take charge” opportunities in life. So they will do things to make that happen.

Other people want to be popular. They want to be liked. They want to be a part of the group. They want to be included. They want a certain prestige and to be looked up to. So they will do things intentionally, on purpose, to reach that goal.

When You Have a Purpose in Life, You Do Things on Purpose

to reach it. So what is your purpose in life?

Before you answer that, we need to look at what happened to Jesus in this Bible passage. He’s on this road to Caesarea Philippi, and he asks the disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” (v 27). He gets the answers: “John the Baptist come back from the dead.” “One of the prophets.” “Elijah.”

Then he turns it on those who are with him. “Who do you say that I am?” Peter, one of the disciples, speaks up and says, “You are the Christ” (v 29). Great answer. Wonderful answer. But he’s got the wrong idea about what the Christ would do.

The Christ, the one whom God’s going to send—well, Peter thinks this is going to be somebody with power to make his dreams come true. He’s hoping that the Christ will overthrow the Roman government so that they can be free, so there will be no more oppression.

Peter believes that the Christ will show incredible political and military power. As for money and possessions, this Christ will give them a country where everybody will be safe, they can have whatever they want, and they will be able to do whatever they want.

It will be a wonderful place to live, with no worries. What’s more, the disciples will get prime spots, prestige, and people looking up to them. They’ll be welcomed and well liked.

But that’s not the type of Christ Jesus had to be. He had to correct this false understanding of what the Christ will do and what purpose he has. So he says, “The Son of Man must” (v 31). The word for must in Greek is just three letters long. It’s only a d, an e, and an idei. It means “it is necessary.” It has to happen. It must occur. The Son of Man must be rejected. He must suffer. He must be killed. So Jesus has this purpose in his life.

Now the question is, why does he have to do this? First, because the Old Testament says it’s going to happen. We go back to Isaiah 53, and that Old Testament prophecy simply describes the Christ as one who will be despised and rejected.

He was esteemed not. He was stricken, smitten, and afflicted. He bore our griefs. He carried our sorrows. With his stripes, we are healed. He was oppressed and afflicted, and the Lord laid our iniquity on him. The Old Testament spoke it, and so it must happen to Jesus for him to be the Christ.

A second reason why this must happen is because God has given him a certain mission. He has to live up to his name. His name is Jesus, the one who saves. God has given this purpose, this mission, this task to Jesus. He is to save his people, to forgive them, to reconcile them with God.

We heard in the Epistle that God demonstrates his love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The result: we are reconciled to God.

Why must Jesus be rejected? Why must he be killed? Why must he suffer? Because he has this purpose in life: he has to reconcile us to God, forgive us, and give us salvation.

Now don’t think that any of these things that happened to him happened because the Romans were in control. Sure, they might have had political power, and they were in charge of the crucifixion. But they weren’t the ones in control.

As for the Jewish leaders, those scribes and Pharisees and chief priests, they weren’t in control either, even though they ran the trial. Even Peter, when he tries to stop Jesus by saying, “This will never happen to you!” he is not in control either.

Jesus is the one with the power. Jesus is the one doing everything on purpose. Just before this incident, Jesus healed a blind man and made a deaf man hear. Jesus has fed thousands of people with fish and bread. He’s cast out a demon from a young girl.

Right after this text, Jesus is going up a mountain to be transfigured with all his power and glory on display, dazzling white light for Peter, James, and John to see.

Later, when Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night when he is betrayed, the mob comes to arrest him. Peter impulsively pulls out a sword and cuts off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus says, “Stop, don’t you realize I can call down a dozen legions of angels to protect me?”

Jesus allows himself to be arrested. When he stood before Pilate, the Roman governor, he could have said some things and gone free, but he stays silent. He is going to be crucified on purpose. When he is with the Sanhedrin, those religious leaders, they ask him a question: “Are you the Christ, the Son of God?” Jesus says, “I am.”

“I am”, is the name God gives himself in the Old Testament. So, when Jesus claims that name, he has forced their hand. He is guilty of blasphemy in their eyes. They will condemn him to death.

Yes, Jesus could have stopped his arrest, his suffering, his trial, his execution at any time he wanted to. He was the one who was in control. Yet, he had a purpose. Everything he did was on purpose. He did all this for you, for me. To forgive us. To save us. To make us brothers and sisters in Christ.

Now, having heard Jesus’ purpose, and what he did on purpose, let’s go back to the question for you: “What is your purpose in life?” Of course, you can have a number of them.

I’m not going to boil it down to just one. But we do have a clear purpose given at the end of our Bible passage for this sermon: we’re to take up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow Jesus.

What might that purpose of denying ourselves, taking up our crosses, and following Jesus look like? Here are a few examples I came across.

The first one has to do with advertisements, actually public service announcements, from a number of years ago. The Ad Council put them out. In one, a man climbed up some stairs on crutches. A voice then told the viewer that the man would have learned to walk if only someone had given the money to build a rehab center.

A similar commercial showed a woman alone in a room. A voice told the viewer that this woman almost received a meal and a visit from someone. But she didn’t. The point of these ads was to help people realize the good they can do that would not happen if they do not give of their time and money.

So what do we do when we deny ourselves and follow Jesus? We give. We give of that money we may have worked so hard to get so that we could buy what we wanted for ourselves. We give of time, even though we will get little fame for doing so. We do this on purpose.

We give of our time, talent, and treasure to not just to receive the sacraments and hear His Word, but for the purpose of sharing that truth with others.

See how this works? You do something on purpose because you have a purpose in life. As Christians, our purpose in life is to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Jesus.

Why? Because Jesus had a purpose. On purpose, he suffered. It was necessary for him to die. He had to be killed and then rise again. He did all this on purpose for you and for me, all to give us life and to give us a clear purpose for the lives we live each day. Amen.

Now may the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.