Sermon Preparation -
August 29, 1999

Matthew 16:21-28

[After Peter identified Jesus as the Messiah and Jesus told them not to tell anyone], Jesus began telling his disciples what would happen to him. He said, "I must go to Jerusalem. There the nation's leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses will make me suffer terribly. I will be killed, but three days later I will rise to life."

Peter took Jesus aside and told him to stop talking like that. He said, "God would never let this happen to you, Lord!"

Jesus turned to Peter and said, "Satan, get away from me! You're in my way because you think like everyone else and not like God."

Then Jesus said to his disciples: "If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find it. What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What would you give to get back your soul?

"The Son of Man will soon come in the glory of his Father and with his angels to reward all people for what they have done. I promise you that some of those standing here will not die before they see the Son of Man coming with his kingdom."


1. Ah, yes, Peter - the Rock of Revelation and the Suffering Avoider. At one and the same time, Peter affirms the mystery of the freedom of God and denies that same freedom by attempting to get GOD to think as Peter does. Does that sound like anyone you know? Does it sound like, say,!

2. As far back as the ancient Greeks it was known that "Culture is King." By this they meant our experiences and desires and learned behaviors tend to prevail over clearly seeing the situation before us and evaluating it and facing the not-yet. The Church Institutional falls prey to this, the best of us end up sometimes not doing what we know to be better and sometimes end up doing the worst we know how to do. Whether we are momentarily in one state or another the angelic glory is soon coming, and some would say has already come.

3. How do you understand that all folks will be "rewarded" for what they have done? Some translations have "be repayed" -- does that make a difference for you? If you have both affirmed and denied GOD's freedom -- what does reward or repayment mean? Does this help you to get out of our cultural/political tendency to make clear-cut statements about consequences and the presumed judgment on helpful or hurtful acts? May you experience the reward of great blessing for the smallest help you have been. May this reward for what you have been able to do in the past encourage you to do even better today.

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