Sermon for Lent 2 – Feb. 28, 2021

+ Lent 2 – February 28, 2021 +
Series B: Genesis 17:1-7. 15-16; Romans 5:1-11; Mark 8:27-38

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“Losers Win”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

You don’t get to hoist hockey’s legendary Stanley Cup by losing the best of 7 series. And you definitely don’t get to toss the Vince Lombardi trophy from boat to boat in a victory parade if you lose the Superbowl.

 

Everyone knows you don’t win by losing. Now, of course, when we’re teaching our kids the value of sportsmanship or learning a game we tell them, “It’s not about who wins or loses but how you play,” and “as long as you had fun, that’s what’s important.” And those are good lessons to learn. But we must admit that deep down we don’t like to lose. We like to win.

 

After all, everyone knows you don’t win by losing. Everyone, except, Jesus it seems.

 

Here in Mark 8, our Gospel reading this morning, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”  And his disciples answered him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” Like a good teacher, Jesus narrows the question. Gets more specific. Personal. He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered him correctly, “You are the Christ.”

 

So far so good. Peter has made the good confession. But then Jesus goes on to tell his disciples exactly what it means that he is the Christ. And what the Christ must do. “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.” 

 

To be the Christ, Jesus says, means that he must suffer. To be the Messiah, God’s chosen, holy, anointed one, is to be rejected and killed. To be the Son of God and Son of Man means that Jesus will die. He will lose. But in losing he will win. In being conquered in death he conquers. And after three days rise again.

 

But poor Peter missed that part about the resurrection. Peter is stuck, hung up on the notion of a winning, glorious, conquering Messiah. A Messiah of power and glory. And to be sure, Jesus is that kind of Messiah, only his power is hidden in humility. His glory hidden in suffering. His victory wrapped in defeat. Jesus wins our life by losing his on the cross. Jesus’ life is marked by the cross.

 

So Peter pulls Jesus aside. And you can imagine him saying something like this. “Jesus, you gotta stop this suffering and dying talk. That’s not how good Messiah’s talk. You can’t win by losing.” Mark says that Peter goes so far as to rebuke Jesus. This is a bold move, even for Peter.

 

But turning and seeing his disciples, Jesus rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

 

No way around it. This is about as stern a rebuke as you can get. Why? Because Peter’s attempted rebuke gets to the heart of who Jesus is and

 

At best, it’s a foolish misunderstanding of who Jesus is and what he came to do. At worst, it’s a temptation for Jesus to be self-serving, to save himself and forgo the suffering, dying, and crucifixion to come.

 

And that is the height – or rather the depths – of what it means to have one’s mind on the things of man. To be selfish. Self-serving. Self-loving. Self-preserving. Sadly, Peter is not alone in this sin, which is so often the root of all other sins. We join him there regularly. Like Peter, we daily have our minds on the things of men. Selfish. Self-serving. Self-loving. We want to be first. We want to win. And so we have not loved the Lord our God with all our heart, and we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.

 

All of this is why Jesus must go to Jerusalem. Why the Son of Man must suffer. Be rejected. Killed. And on the third day rise again. Because try as we might, and strange as it may sound, in the kingdom of God, we cannot win by winning. In the kingdom of God, you win by losing. By dying and rising with Jesus who died and rose for you.

 

Remember, the life of Christ is marked by the cross. Jesus does the unexpected, yet gracious thing. Jesus suffers in our place to end our suffering. Jesus is betrayed and rejected by men that we would never be rejected by the Father. Jesus is killed that we might live. He dies that we would rise. He lays down his life that we may gain our soul and body for all eternity. Jesus loses on the cross, and in losing, he wins. He conquers. He triumphs. The cross of Christ is his moment of great glory. And ours.

 

This is what Paul is talking about, in Romans 5. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

 

You see, your life is marked by the cross of Christ as well. Jesus’ cross marks you in Holy Baptism as one redeemed by Christ crucified. Jesus’ cross and resurrection fills your ears with the good news that you are forgiven all your sins in Holy Absolution. Jesus’ body crucified, risen, and ascended continues to dwell with us, and in us in his Holy Supper.

 

And having all this, we live as his disciples did. Under his cross. Take up your cross, and follow me, Jesus says to us as well. For it is Jesus who fixes your mind on the things of God. And what are those things? Self-less love for others. Sacrificial love for those around us. Living unashamedly as his people in the midst of a wicked and adulterous generation. Living in the mercy and grace of Christ crucified.

 

All the while, knowing that we live in him who lived, and died, and rose for you.

 

You see, while it is true that in the world you don’t win by losing, in the kingdom of God, in the cross of our Lord that is exactly how it works.

 

Jesus takes up the cross that you might follow him. Jesus forfeits his own life to save us. Jesus wins our life by losing. Jesus’ life is marked by the cross. And in Jesus, so are you. You are marked by his cross.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977