Sermon for Lent 2 – 2.25.24

+ 2nd Sunday in Lent – February 25th, 2024 +

Series B: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Romans 5:1-11; Mark 8:27-38

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA


“Who Is Jesus?”


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


Back when late night television was comical and comedians could make jokes, Jay Leno had a segment called “the man on the street.” Someone from his show would interview random folks on the street: “Who was the first U.S. president? What are the three branches of government? What year was the Declaration of Independence written?” And so on. These bits were funny… more than a little frightening…yet revealing.


In Today’s gospel reading Jesus isn’t on the streets of New York, but in the villages of Caesarea Philippi. A place where the locals confessed Caesar as lord. A place where Pan was worshiped in a pagan temple. Jesus didn’t have a camera crew following him around, but his disciples are with him, and thanks to Mark’s gospel, so are we. We get to tune into prime-time and hear Jesus conducting his own “man on the street interview” with his disciples. “Who do people say that I am?”


For Jesus, however, this question isn’t a matter of mere information…it’s a matter of life and death…how you answer Jesus’ question is the difference between a crazy rabbi who says some wild stuff or he is who really says he is: the Son of God in human flesh to rescue you in his crucifixion and resurrection.


Jesus didn’t ask this for entertainment value either…but to drive us to his cross where he reveals his answer for you and for the world: Who is Jesus? He is your crucified, suffering, bleeding, dying, sin-bearing, hanging on the cross in our place, and rising out of his tomb three days later Savior. Who is Jesus? He is the Son of God in human flesh who came to save you by his cross and resurrection.


Jesus asks his disciples…Who do people say that I am?”  And they gave the typical answers of their day; they had a good pulse on who the masses expected the Messiah to be: “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”


What about today? Who do people in Milton, Puyallup, or Tacoma say Jesus is? Some say Jesus was a good, moral man or a mythical figure like the Easter bunny or Sasquatch. Some say he’s more like a cheerleader or a mascot. Some think of Jesus like a vending machine or a magic lamp. Still, others say, he’s a wise teacher or a guide.


You see the problem here, don’t you? All of those answers, and others like it, reveal more about the person answering the question than they reveal who Jesus is. But the problem goes deeper than that. Is that how Jesus reveals who he is? Is Jesus nothing more than a spiritual trainer telling us to work harder? Or a religious boy scout telling you to live better? Or a genie who will grant your wishes? Because if that’s all Jesus is we should all pack up our stuff and head home. That’s not good news. Not only that, if that’s all Jesus is, then we’re still in our sin. There’s still guilt and grief and shame to deal with. There’s still death. And none of those false Christs – none of our idols – are coming to rescue us. Unless you have Jesus the Son of God in human flesh come to save us undeserving sinners by his dying and rising again you have a fake, a phony, and a false Christ.


Then Jesus gets personal. He turns to his disciples. Who do you (plural – yous guys) say that I am?


“You are the Christ.” Peter answered.


It’s a good answer. A true answer. Jesus is the Christ. He is the anointed, chosen, long-expected Messiah. He is the Son of God from all eternity and the Son of Mary born in time. He is the Promised Seed foretold to Adam and Eve, to Abraham in Genesis 17, and to Isaac and Jacob and the prophets.

Why then, we wonder, in the very next breath Jesus strictly charged them to tell no one about him.

Because they don’t yet understand what it means that Jesus is the Christ. Peter takes Jesus aside and tries to shut him up. The student rebukes the teacher. This is all backwards. This is why Jesus calls Peter, Satan. To remove Christ from the cross is the work of the devil. A suffering, bleeding, dying, crucified God is not the Messiah the disciples had in mind.

Like the crowds that follow Jesus, his own disciples had all sorts of opinions about what the Messiah would be like: a mighty warrior who would conquer the romans and a king who would restore an earthly kingdom…make Israel great.

No, says Jesus. Yes, the Christ is a King…but his kingdom is not of the world. He wears a crown of thorns. But will be enthroned on a Roman cross; where it is written, “cursed is anyone who hangs on a tree.” His royal robes will be given in jest, then stripped from him, and gambled away.

Who is Jesus? Jesus tells his disciples, and us, exactly who he is. He began to teach them that 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.  And Jesus didn’t tell them all of this in a parable. Or a story. Or any number of metaphors in the Scripture. He said this plainly.

Who is Jesus? Jesus tells us plainly too: 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.

Not only is this Jesus’ answer. This is how we answer this question when those around us ask as well. Christianity is not the story of a good, wise, moral teacher. It is the story of how a particular man, with a particular color eyes, a certain height and weight and hair color was put to death on a particular Roman cross one Friday afternoon…and he did it all for you.


This is what it means when Jesus says “Take up your cross and follow me.” Your Christian life is not like the old story, The Little Engine that Could…”I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” Cause we can’t and we won’t. But Christ will and does it all for you. Yes, even your life of love towards others. Christian life is the cross where Jesus died and rose for you. And where you die and rise with him.


There is no Christian life apart from the cross. The cross is what it means that Jesus is the Christ. And the cross is what it means for you to be in Christ. For in the cross, there’s your life. That’s why the ultimate self-denial is not what we say or do or give up. The ultimate self-denial is a confession that we have nothing whatsoever to do with our salvation. That all we bring to the foot of the cross is our sin and death. And yet there, Jesus does everything for you. Gives everything for you.

Who is Jesus? Paul tells us in Romans 5: while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

Who is Jesus? Jesus tells us today as he told his disciples: 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.

Who is Jesus? Jesus’ answer…look to my cross, and nowhere else. That’s who I am for you.

If you want to see God look to the one who suffered for you. To the one who was rejected for you. To the one who was killed for you. To the one who rose from the grave 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

By appointment only June and July


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