Sermon for Pentecost 14 – 9.3.23

+ 14th Sunday after Pentecost – September 3rd, 2023 +

Series A: Jeremiah 15:15-21; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 16:21-28

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

“The Turning Point”

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

One of the enjoyable parts of learning history is when you find important ideas, inventions, people, or places that mark a turning point. George Washington crossing the Delaware River on Christmas Eve of 1776; a turning point in the American Revolution. Luther re-discovering the righteousness of Christ given by God’s grace through faith, not man’s work; a turning point in church history.

Today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 16 is a major turning point in the life and ministry of Jesus. It comes on the heels of last week’s reading, where Peter made the good and God-given confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Now we hear Jesus teaching what it means that he is the Christ, the Messiah. Jesus teaches Peter, his disciples, and us all, that everything in His life and ours is marked by the great turning point of his suffering, dying, and rising.

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.

Notice that Matthew says, Jesus “began to show his disciples.” This is not the last time Jesus will foretell his passion and resurrection. Only after Jesus’ resurrection will his disciples begin to grasp what he’s saying and doing. And what Jesus says here is loaded with meaning. Jesus’ words mark a turning point in His life and ministry. His miracles. Healing. Feeding of the of the crowds. Walking on water. Calming storms. These are all signposts marking the way to the cross and his empty tomb. Jesus begins to connect the dots for the disciples about everything he has said and done so far, and the picture he reveals is the picture of his suffering, death, and resurrection.

Jesus must go to Jerusalem. There is no other way than the cross. No other place than Jerusalem. No other Messiah than Jesus the Son of the Living God. His sacrifice for our sin. His death for our death. His life for our life. There is no backup. No plan B. This is the way. This is why He came virgin-born. This is why He was baptized in the Jordan. This is why He performed all the miracles He did. He didn’t come to be a wise teacher. A divine boy scout. Or a new Moses. But to suffer. To be the sin-bearer. And to be killed – not accidentally, but intentionally, to save you. The entire history of the world turns on the word and work of Jesus the Son of the living God who suffer, dies, and rises. 

Don’t forget that last part. and on the third day be raised. It’s one thing to claim to be the Son of God,; it’s another thing entirely to back it up by doing it. And yet, that’s exactly what Jesus did.

 

Peter’s response is a complete contrast to his confession we heard last week. Peter, the disciple, pulls Jesus, the Master, aside and rebukes Jesus. It’s the same word Jesus uses when he rebukes demons and disease, only now it’s from his own disciple. “Far be it from you, Lord.” He calls on the Lord to have mercy on Jesus for saying such a thing. Like how we’d say, God forbit it.” Whatever Peter’s understanding of the Messiah was, suffering, dying and rising were not what he had in mind.

It is, however, precisely what God had in mind. And anything that stands in the way of the Messiah’s suffering and dying is Satan, an adversary. Which is why Jesus replies the way he does. Strongly. “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.” 

It is the things of man to be self-serving, self-loving, self-absorbed. Not so with the things of God. To think the things of God is to think on, rejoice in, and give thanks for the crucified and risen Christ. To think the thoughts of God is to think on the Christ who suffers, dies, and rises for you. To see that in the suffering and dying and rising of Jesus, the great turning point not only of the whole world, but also your life. His suffering for your sin brings you peace with God. His death brings destroys your death. His resurrection gives you life forever.

Christ’s suffering, dying, and rising are not only the great turning point in his life for you, but also for your daily life in Him. A disciple is a follower. Jesus followed where the Father sent and lead him. We, by his saving work, follow where he leads us. And it’s always to and from his cross.

“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.

This is not a list of prerequisites to become Jesus’ disciple, but what it looks like to follow Jesus. It looks like the cross. And the cross has one purpose. To kill. To put to death. Being a disciple of Jesus is not about attending Jesus school. It’s about suffering, dying and rising. It’s about denying one’s self and confessing Christ. It’s about losing in order to win, dying in order to live. It’s about holding everything in this life with the open, dead hand of faith, to be dead to Sin about alive to God in Christ. This is what’s happening when we confess our sin. Jesus’ cross is killing our sin and forgiving our sin.

Baptism does something similar, Paul says. It’s a miraculous turning point. By water and word, God joins us to Jesus’ suffering and death and resurrection. His wounds are now your wounds for your healing. In Baptism you were joined to Jesus’ death. His death atones for your sins. In Baptism you were joined to Jesus’ resurrection and life. In Baptism you were given a new mind, the mind of Christ, set on the things of God not on the things of man. 

It’s like that old country song, live like you were dying. Only in the Christian faith, you live like you are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. What does that look like? How do we take up our cross and follow Jesus? Paul says it well in today’s epistle reading. 

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,[g] serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[h] Never be wise in your own sight.17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

And when we fail to live this way, or fall short of our Lord’s words, like Peter, remember that all of this – your salvation, your following Jesus, your eternal life and forgiveness – it all turns and rests, not on you, but on Jesus who suffered, died, and rose again on the third day for you.

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, Tuesday and Wednesday
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