Wednesday, October 31, 2012



Immediately after Peter affirms Him as God's Messiah, Jesus reveals to them that He will suffer, be killed and resurrected-all at the hands of the religious leadership in Jerusalem.  
Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."

It's pretty obvious this revelation either went over their heads or they thought Jesus was speaking in hyperbole. In some ways it's understandable, because they are on a 'high' with all sorts of thoughts regarding the Messiahship of Jesus and what that could mean for them. No doubt, they had a nationalistic twist in their thinking and believed their newly discovered Messiah meant the Romans would be run out of power and they would be in.
Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for you to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit your very self? If any of you are ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. "Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."

Jesus quickly moves to bolster their personal commitment to being His disciples. Knowing that there are going to be some rough days ahead in the next couple of weeks, Jesus challenges each disciple as an individual. The challenge is to deny oneself and take up your cross and follow Him. I like to interpret this as being a call to perseverance, that 'no matter what comes I will continue to follow Jesus'.

He further explains this by putting it in terms of saving and losing. "Whoever wants to save his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for Jesus will save it." Now this is a kingdom contrast at its best. The kingdom of this world says to get all you can, promote yourself, lift yourself up and accumulate as much as you can in order to build up your position over everyone else. Jesus' kingdom has to do with losing your life in order to save it. Then Jesus says, "What good is it for you to gain the whole world while losing or forfeiting your very self?" He is saying that if you live your life in this way with a disregard for others and for God, then you are in fact in a losing position.

You may accumulate the entire world, but lose your soul in the process. It's a matter of misreading what's important in life. I see it all the time. Men and women who are willing to sell their souls and marriage and family in order to "get it all", then live empty lives of quiet desperation and loneliness.

Then Jesus brings their attention back to the kingdom of God. He says that some of the disciples would see with their eyes the kingdom of God before they die. So, therefore hang on to the kingdom principles of giving yourself away so you can get yourself back in return. We'll see in the next paragraph what Jesus was talking about here.

You see, Jesus came to introduce the kingdom of God to the world. Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is within you and is here right now." It is not a political kingdom, but a spiritual one. Our struggle is that we are constantly living between two kingdoms-the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God.

Your kingdom is what you have say over. So, the kingdom of God is what God has say over. Another way to look at it is that the kingdom is where the king is-where He rules! The kingdom is where what God wants done gets done. It's interesting to note the emphasis Jesus places on the kingdom-significantly more than the church. Jesus speaks of the kingdom in the Gospels around 32 times and mentions the church only twice and one of those references was referring to the universal church or kingdom.

NOTE the gospel of the kingdom is mentioned several times, but there is no gospel of the church. The kingdom is invisible and the church is visible. You go to church while the kingdom goes with you. You aren't told to seek the church, but you are to seek first the kingdom. The church may or may not grow, but the kingdom is continually growing. And the church may have God present, but the kingdom is God's presence in us.

So, let me ask you. Why is there such a massive emphasis among Christians on the church and the kingdom seems to be ignored or minimized? We seem to be at it again-majoring in what Jesus minors in and minoring in what Jesus sees as most important.