SER # 11W
FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
SUNDAY MARCH 15TH 2020
3RD SUNDAY IN LENT
TEXTS: MATTHEW 16: 13 – 23
THEME: BEDROCK OR STUMBLING BLOCK.
Today is the third Sunday in Lent. This Lent season we are focusing on a study by Adam Hamilton called “Simon Peter: Flawed but Faithful Disciple.”
As Jesus time on earth was getting closer to an end, he wanted to make sure that those people who are left behind continuing with his work, understood the basics. He wanted at least his disciples to know who he was. As they gathered at that place in Caesarea Philippi, he asked them a question that every good teacher would ask their students. Who do people say I am? He received several answers. Finally, he asked them “You do you say I am? It is here where Simon Peter gives a perfect answer, “You are the Messiah son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16). In this passage we can draw the following lessons as we try to answer these basic questions:
- Who is Jesus? Jesus took his disciples to a special place in term of the history around the place. He took them to Caesarea Philippi which was known as shrine where there were many gods worshipped. Temples were built by different emperors at different times representing different gods. Therefore, it was here that Jesus asked his disciples a very important question. Who people thought he was. The answers varied, some thought he was one of the prophets, others thought he was Elijah, Jeremiah, while others even thought he was John the Baptist. It was here that Jesus asks them a very personal question, “Who do you say I am? There was some silence I would think or looking at one another until when Peter spoke and answered, “You are the Christ the son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16). It was from this statement that Jesus acknowledges his title as the Messiah and also knew that Peter had at last gotten it right. The same question come to us today in a personal way to announce who Jesus is. Not what the world say, or think who Jesus is but what you say. It is a personal question and I believe the question is leading us to ask what is our relationship with Jesus. Who is Jesus in our personal lives? We are invited today to explore this relationship. There is a difference between knowing about a person and knowing a person. Jesus want us to know him as the Lord of our lives a savior. Even though it is good to know about somebody it is more powerful to know somebody. There is a classic example of the Ethiopian Eunuch who was reading the bible about God but never understood it. In response to Philip question the Eunuch responded, “How can I, he said, unless someone explains it to me? So, he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. (v.31)” (Acts 8: 26 -38). We can read about people but it makes a difference if we read about somebody we know. Who is Jesus to you?
- What is the Church? When Simon Peter answered Jesus question correctly, Jesus changes his name by calling him Petros which means a rock. In a sense then every believer who acknowledges Jesus as the messiah becomes Petros. One becomes that little rock that Jesus uses to build his church. You are one of those rocks that form the church of Jesus. You are the church and I am the church so the next question would be what is our duties as the church of Christ. Simon Peter represents us in our ministry and actions in life. As the church of Jesus, we are expected to do the following; a) Influence the people around us for the kingdom of God. we are the agents of change. We transform the world we don’t conform to the world (Romans 12:1-2). b) The church belongs to Jesus himself and we have to believe that he has to occupy the seat of throne in our lives. We have to allow Jesus to call the shots. c) We are called to continue with the mission of Jesus Christ. That means ministering to the people using all the talents and blessings that God has given us. We have experienced this unique love coming from people when there is a disaster in this country. This country has testimonies to that effect. Doing good no matter how small the act was or is it changes lives. I just read the other day one of the NBA (Kevin Love) players (Cavaliers) is giving some of his earning to go to pay workers who help during the game who are not working because there are no games. During this time of Corona virus (2020) we are hearing of stories of God sighting in people’s lives d) We have to challenge ourselves to be those living rocks that come together to form the spiritual house the body of Christ.
- What are the Stumbling Blocks? In our passage today we see Simon Peter who was the spoke-person and often was quick to speak stumble before Jesus. When Jesus insist that he was going to Jerusalem where he would be crucified Peter does not like that. “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, ‘Never, Lord’ he said, this shall never happen to you” Jesus turned around 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 things of men.” (Matthew 16: 22-23). It is very easy for us to blame Simon Peter for his words but all of us would never offer the people we love to die. We try our best to assure them we love them and all shall be well. We never wish them death so was Simon Peter. I believe this was what might have been going through in Peter’s mind at this time. That why we have to learn as believers never to become a stumbling block: a) We can’t hinder the will of God even if it is against our personal interest. That why in our prayers we say that ‘may thy will be done God.’ God knows what is best and can see ahead of us all. b) We have to always know that we work at the direction of the Holy Spirit. When we fail to follow the guiding of the Holy Spirit, instead of becoming the living stones, we become the stumbling block. This is something we have to watch carefully. Simon Peter moved from the living rock (Petros) the Jesus was to build his church to a stumbling block that was blocking the will of God by him trying to stop Jesus face the cross which was the only way the father wanted to use to redeem his people. c) When we become bad examples in representing Christ in our daily lives, we turn from a living rock to a stumbling block. We are the face of Jesus Christ in the world we live if we call ourselves true followers of Jesus Christ. We represent Jesus in all aspect of our lives. As father, Mother, grandpa, grandma, working person in whatever you do as a disciple of Jesus Christ you represent Christ.
- How do we Carry the Cross? The Cross of Jesus represents the journey of the discipleship. “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). What does this cross represent in our everyday life? a) The cross represents obedience. By each one willing to be a believer or a disciple we are saying yes to Jesus and this is a step toward obedience. When Jesus called his first disciples, he requested them to leave what they were doing and follow him. That is what they did. Simon Peter and his brother Andrew left their boats, so was John and his brother James, Levi (Matthew) the tax collector did the same. We say yes in obedience and with faith to follow Jesus. That is called taking the cross. b) The Cross represents suffering. Jesus does not promise us an easy way to the Kingdom. Jesus way is sometimes called the narrow way that many don’t like following. Many of us like to follow the highway of faith but the bible warns us that this highway ends up in hell. “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it (Matthew 7: 13-14). The wide road is easy and smooth but the end result is not good. By choosing this narrow way might mean saying no to the world and what many have accepted. It means saying no to: racism, ageism, and any form of discrimination that takes place at our work place, at church or any other place. This means some may not like you for what you stand for and that is called taking the cross of Jesus. c) The cross represents discipline. Part of the journey is to remind ourselves we have put on the yoke of Jesus. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my and burden is light” (Matthew 11:28 -30). d) The cross represents victory. It was on the cross that Jesus declared victory by doing the will of God. As you carry the cross of Jesus you are telling the world that you are victorious. You are a winner in Jesus name.