Don’t You Know His Value?
15th Sunday after Pentecost
Don’t You Know His Value?
Text: Matthew 16:21-26
Oh, Peter! How could you? Last week we listened as you made the most beautiful and clear confession of faith. When Jesus asked the disciples who they thought he was, you blurted out immediately, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” What a confession of faith! You properly identified Jesus as the Messiah who is true man and true God. And Jesus promised that your statement of faith would be the rock-solid foundation of his Church forever. So Peter, how could you?
We’re told that after Peter made his confession of faith, “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.” Jesus was teaching his disciples about what he really came to do. It was now about to happen.
But Peter, the man of impulse, took action again. “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’” Oh, Peter! Don’t You Know His Value? Don’t you know what he came to do? I suppose Peter had good intentions. Jesus was his friend. Jesus was his teacher. No one ever wants to see a friend die.
There was more behind it, though. Jesus’ response cues us in. “Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Peter did not have good intentions in mind because Peter did not have God’s intentions in mind. Peter wanted what he thought was best. He wanted what would make him happy.
What would make Peter happy? Having Jesus alive and around! Think how great of a run they had over the last couple years. When someone was sick, Jesus would heal them. When there were storms, Jesus would calm them. When they ran out of food, Jesus would multiply bread and fish until they had enough. Peter had even walked on water with Jesus for a few minutes!
So when Jesus started talking about suffering and dying, that didn’t sound very good to Peter. Who was going to feed all those people? Who was going to help all the needy? Who was going to rebuke the Pharisees for them? Who was going to overthrow the Romans for them? Peter only had in mind his own things and his own good, and not the things of God.
That’s why Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Deny himself, Peter! You needed to deny, yourself! Don’t You Know His Value? Didn’t you know what Jesus really came to do? Didn’t you know who Jesus was? Didn’t you know what was most important in life, Peter? Jesus said, “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?”
Peter, you could have all the food in the world. You could have the flu cured each time you get it. You could have four chariots in your garage and a hundred togas in your closet. You could have those Pharisees shut up for good and you could have the Romans overthrown and Israel ruling the world again. But what good would any of that be, Peter, if you lose your soul and end up in hell?
Don’t You Know His Value, Peter? Don’t you know what Jesus really came for? Don’t you know what he had to do to save you? How could you try to stop him? Peter, how could you?
The finger easily extends, doesn’t it? But we who point at Peter ought reflect a bit ourselves. How do you feel when Jesus teaches you about his suffering and death? You hear it every single Sunday. “The same old thing over and over again. Fine, thank you for dying, Jesus. That’s really great. But that just helps me on Sunday. How about Monday through Saturday? How about when I walk out of those doors on Sunday morning? How about you help me a little then, Lord?”
Wouldn’t it be a nice if Jesus gave us a little helping hand here and there? We sure could use it! How about a little jump-start to the economy? Jesus turned water into wine. I’m sure he could create a few jobs for people in Flagler County. Or how about a little protection from natural disasters? They keep happening more and more frequently all over the world? Or at least protection from the terrible enemies and weapons rising against us? Could you fix my family Jesus? Could you take my pain away Jesus? Can’t you just take the stress out of my life?
As we beg and beseech Jesus to fix the minutia of our lives he turns and rebukes us: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” How often we have in mind our own things, our own problems, our own desires rather than the things of God! Again, Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Don’t We Know His Value? Don’t we know what Jesus really came to do? Don’t we know who Jesus really was? Don’t we know what is most important in life? Jesus said, “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?”
You see, we could have fridges filled with tenderloin and king crab legs. We could have bank accounts with ones followed by lots of zeros. We could have garages filled with every kind of brand new two- and four-wheel vehicle imaginable. All our family problems could go away. The stock market could shoot through the roof. And we could retire to our own personal island somewhere in the South Pacific. But what good is in any of that if we lose our soul and end up in hell?
The real value of Jesus is not his power to help us or to heal us or to comfort us when we are sad and lonely. Sure he might do those things. But the real value of Jesus is what he accomplished on Calvary 2,000 years ago.
As the innocent Son of God went before his enemies like a lamb to the slaughter, he was taking our place as the one and only to ever live with perfection and holiness. As the mighty God of all hung from a cross, he was taking our place as the object of God’s wrath and anger against sin. As true man and true God bowed his head in death, he was taking our place as the once-for-all payment for the wrongs that we have done.
This is why Jesus came. He didn’t come to fill our wallets or our tummies. He didn’t come to make life easy and uncomplicated. He didn’t come to fix the economy or bring world peace. Jesus came to bring real peace—true peace. Jesus came to forgive our selfishness and our self-centeredness and our worldly thinking. Jesus came to restore a right relationship with God so that we can live with him in his eternal home.
That’s why Jesus came and that is Jesus’ real value. He is more valuable and important than any thing this world could ever offer. We might have all kinds of problems in life. We might have family problems. We might have health problems. We might have money problems. We might have all of the above. But as long as we have Jesus, then we are doing just fine. Because he is all we really need.
What a different view that gives us—a different worldview! It changes the way we think about money. It changes the way we think about our Sunday offerings. It changes the way we think about the conversations we have with other people. It changes the way we spend our time. Once we know the value of Jesus, what a joy it is to spend our time, our talents, and our treasures on him! That’s having in mind the things of God, not the things of men. That’s knowing that eternal life is more important than gaining the whole world in this life.
We shake our heads at Peter this morning. Last week he was at the pinnacle of faith confessing that Jesus is, “The Christ, the Son of the living God.” This week he’s trying to stop him from carrying out the plan of salvation. But we shake our heads today not in disgust with Peter. We shake our heads in disgust with ourselves.
We know that Peter’s story is really our story, for we do the same thing all the time. One moment someone might think that we are the most faithful of all Christians, and the next one would think we are the most heathen of all sinners.
Thus in joy we look to Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living God, who came to die for Peter’s sins and to die for your sins and to die for my sins. In love he laid down his life so that we could rise to new life—a life far better and greater than anything we could enjoy here in this world. Jesus brought us forgiveness. He brought us salvation. He brought us eternal life in heaven. That is his real value. And we know that.
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