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THE CROSS (CC)

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Rise for the reading of this morning's Sermon Text recorded for us in Matthew's Gospel where we read from Chapter 16, beginning with Verse 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, CHIEF PRIESTS AND TEACHERS OF THE LAW, AND THAT HE MUST BE KILLED AND ON THE THIRD DAY BE RAISED TO LIFE. PETER TOOK HIM ASIDE AND BEGAN TO REBUKE HIM. "NEVER, LORD!" HE SAID. "THIS SHALL NEVER HAPPEN TO YOU!" JESUS TURNED AND SAID TO PETER, ["GET BEHIND ME, SATAN!] OUT OF MY SIGHT, YOU ARE A STUMBLING BLOCK TO ME; YOU DO NOT HAVE IN MIND THE THINGS OF GOD, BUT THE THINGS OF MEN." THEN JESUS SAID TO HIS DISCIPLES, "IF ANYONE WOULD COME AFTER ME, HE MUST DENY HIMSELF AND TAKE UP HIS CROSS AND FOLLOW ME. FOR WHOEVER WANTS TO SAVE HIS LIFE WILL LOSE IT, BUT WHOEVER LOSES HIS LIFE FOR ME WILL FIND IT. WHAT GOOD WILL IT BE FOR A MAN IF HE GAINS THE WHOLE WORLD, YET FORFEITS HIS SOUL? OR WHAT CAN A MAN GIVE IN EXCHANGE FOR HIS SOUL? This is the Word of our Lord. Let us pray: Glorious and gracious God, may the words of my mouth, and the meditation of each of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, our only source of hope and comfort. Amen. [Text taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION 1973, 1978, 1984, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.] Dear Followers of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ: The time that the disciples spent with Jesus was a time of discovery. It was a time of learning for them. It was a time of watching Him, seeing the things that He did. Those wonderful and miraculous things that pointed to His deity. The fact that He could heal the sick. That He could give sight to the blind. That He could make the deaf hear. That He could raise the dead. That He spoke to them and taught them as One who had authority. That there were thousands of people clamoring to hear what He had to say. Jesus would take His disciples away with Him; would spend time with them in prayer; be alone with them to continue to teach them and to tell them what He meant by the parables that He had been using as illustrations of what the kingdom of heaven was like. Or what God Himself was like. What a wonderful experience that must have been for the disciples. And then we hear, in our account from Matthew this morning, that Jesus sat down with His disciples to tell them exactly what was going to happen. And Jesus did not spare them any of the gory details. He looked at His disciples and He said to them: I must go to Jerusalem. And when I go to Jerusalem I am going to suffer many things at the hands of the head elders ... the teachers of the Law. Suffer so many things that, in fact, that I will die ... and on the third day be raised to life. The culmination of Jesus' ministry in this world was His sacrificial death. But there He was carrying the sins of all people to make atonement for them. To shed His blood so that the punishment that should have been placed on every single individual had been placed on Him. And He took it to that cross of Calvary and there by His death destroyed it. Shattering that yoke of slavery to sin and giving freedom and forgiveness and the Gospel Message that His work would continue. That He rose from the dead on the third day destroying death proving that Satan had lost all of his hold and that Christ was the victor. And that those who trusted and believed in Him would also rise. The glorious work of Jesus Christ that He taught to His disciples that He laid out before them so that they would understand that the things that they were hearing and the things that they were seeing were leading to this end. To go to Jerusalem. The cross of Calvary; the empty grave. And Peter, as always, has something to say. And in response to what Christ had said, by saying: Never! That is never ever going to happen to You. And Jesus turned to him and slapped him in the face with the reality of what was going on. Imagine Peter's shock as Jesus turned to him and said: Get behind Me, Satan! You do not have in mind the things of God, but you have in mind the things of men. And this ... is not about you, Peter. This is about God. God's plan of salvation. God working out His love that He had promised to Adam and Eve. That He had called a people to be His own. To love them. To have the Messiah of the world come. That Jesus had come to those very people. To show them that He WAS the promised Savior. And Jesus wanted it clear to Peter and the other disciples that THIS is what was going to happen. This is what HAD to happen. Because this was the work of Christ. And with that as the background, Jesus looked at His disciples and said: Think about this. If anyone is going to follow Me ... he has to pick up his cross; he has to deny himself; because the road is not going to be easy. But what good will it do you if you gain the entire world yet forfeit your soul? yet forfeit your soul? What can you give in exchange for your soul? And the disciples, as we, know the answer. There is nothing that I could give to win my salvation. There is nothing that I could do to be able to gain eternal life but it has come to me by the gracious gift of God. It has come into my life by the power of the Holy Spirit with the Word of God working faith in me in my baptism ... keeping me in that faith. And Jesus says to us today to take up our cross, to deny ourselves, and to follow Him. Because the reality of the life of a Christian is the reality of Christ's life. It was never proclaimed to be one that was going to be easy. But it is always going to be a struggle. We STILL struggle with sin. Even within our very selves, each and every day, we struggle against our OWN sinful nature that wants us to disobey God. That wants us to ignore what God has said. That wants us to put ourselves first. To make it about ME. To make it about what I want. To make it about MY pleasure. To put in my mind the things of Dave because that is what my sinful nature wants. And that's what YOUR sinful nature wants. To get what you think you need to have or deserve no matter how you do it and to put God in the background. But Jesus reminds us today that if we are going to follow Him, a life of service is one that will have its unique hardships. And those are the crosses that we bear on account of our faith. The difficulties that we have in life because we are Christians. And they will come to us because we live in a world that is against Christ. We come into contact with people who do not belive that Jesus is their Lord and Savior. And they are going to punish us. They are going to attack us. They are going to want to hurt us and disprove our faith. They are not going to make our lives easy, nor are they going to make our lives comfortable. But we remind ourselves it is not about ME. It is about God. It is about what God has given me through His Son. What Jesus Christ has accomplished for me is my eternal salvation. Something I couldn't do on my own, but it is something that is the greatest of gifts. And brings me the most tremendous comfort in my life of knowing that even though I may be in the midst of the most wicked battle, with the world, with Satan, and struggling even with myself ... my faith tells me to NOT trust in me, but to rely on Christ. To trust in Him and His promises and to rest secure that He is my Lord. That He has redeemed me a lost and condemned creature. That He has purchased and won me. That He has given to me eternal life. And I realize I put in practice the things of God and not the things of myself. I stop thinking of myself more highly than I ought. And realize what is important is Christ. And I bear Him in my life. I take up His cross because it is my salvation and I willingly pick up my cross ... those hardships and difficulties in my life and not deny Christ. But bear them because He is my Lord and Savior. And in my life I will follow Him. I follow Him into death with the forgiveness of sins knowing that I follow Him into eternal life. Raised from that grave that I will not remain in that grave. That I will see with my own eyes my Lord and Savior. That on that Last Great Day, I will be raised to eternal life. My body will be transformed to be like His Holy body and I will live with Him in all glory and all splendor. And therefore I follow Him. And as I mature in my faith, I realize each and every day that every step I take is one that may contain difficulties. That I'm not running to God asking for some "get out of this world with a happy-life card for free." But knowing, that following Christ, is going to bless me beyond what I can imagine. Because what can I give in exchange for my soul? What good is it going to do if I had all of the money on the face of the earth and had no faith? If I had all of the comforts of this life only to suffer the discomforts of hell forever. That if I had an easy and pleasurable life here and did exactly what I wanted to do and ended up under the control of Satan for all eternity where there's weeping and gnashing of teeth. where there's weeping and gnashing of teeth. It is for us a reality check. Because so often our sinful nature wants to complain. And wants us to think that God somehow doesn't love us or doesn't care for us. But that is not the truth. God's love is constant. It is eternal. He has promised us tremendous blessings. He has also given us gifts to use in this world. The Apostle Paul reminded us of those in our Epistle Lesson for today. He said we are the Body of Christ. And just like the human body is made up of many members that have different functions, we all have different gifts and abilities. Paul reminds us to use them in worship. To be living sacrifices offering our bodies to God. Following Him. Taking those gifts that He has given to us and using them for His Church and for His good and doing what God has asked of us. No matter what the difficulty. No matter what happens from sin or the world or our own insecurity. But to realize we are to follow Christ. But we take up our cross, that we deny ourselves, and we follow Him. For His purpose in coming was to save us. He has saved us. We are His own. Let us live in His grace. Let us die in His peace. Let us rise to eternal life, mindful of the fact that He has loved us beyond all measure. So as we wait for that blessed end, let us take up our cross and follow Him. Amen. Let us rise. Now may the peace of God which goes beyond all of our understanding, keep your hearts and your minds and especially your lives, in the one true faith unto life everlasting. Amen.

Video Details

Duration: 17 minutes and 20 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: R & M
Director: Jesus
Views: 43
Posted by: hischild on Oct 22, 2011

In this sermon, Pastor Dave reviews for us what Jesus tells us in Matthew Chapter 16 about denying ourselves and following Christ. www.ziontorrance.info

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