God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

October 20 - Mark 8; Luke 9:18-27; Matthew 16: Beware Bad Influences and an Unwillingness to Suffer

Today’s Reading: Mark 8; Luke 9:18-27; Matthew 16

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Only those who let Jesus lead will find their True Selves.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Jesus compassionately fed thousands with a few loaves and fish.
Pharisees wanted a sign. Jesus replied, "I'd rather not give you anything!"
Jesus warned the Apostles of "Pharisee yeast". Disappointingly, they thought He meant physical yeast.
Jesus asked who the Apostles thought He was. Peter piped in, "You are the Messiah."
Jesus responded, "Peter, you will get the keys to My Everlasting Church."
Jesus told them about His future suffering. Peter protested, but Jesus asked Him to back off, "I must lead or you risk losing your True Self. If you find Me embarrassing, remember that everyone associates us together!"

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Jesus fed the crowds because He felt compassion for them.

We have now read five stories spanning four days where Jesus feeds thousands using a few loaves and fish. Each describes how He looked out over the crowd and felt compassion for them. Jesus wanted to set things right because He has compassion for the world.

Jesus warned the Apostles to stay clear from influences that would corrupt their allegiance.

The Pharisees and Herod were pledged to their own causes—the Pharisees to keeping their version of the Law and Herod to his greatness. Jesus knew they would offer a helping hand in return for special treatment in this new Kingdom. So Jesus wanted to make sure the Apostles stayed either stayed away from them or did not let the corruption seep into their lives. Keep away from harmful influences and legalist who miss God.
How do we do this and still help sinners? It depends on the person. If the person doesn't seem interested in setting things right, we might do better by keeping a distance. If they seem open, be open.

The Apostles were sometimes quite dense.

Right after Jesus feeds four thousand people, the Apostles were afraid they would run out of food. When Jesus told them to beware the yeast of the Pharisees they thought He meant they could not patron the Pharisees' favorite stores. I can see Jesus doing a facepalm. Sometimes, God's Chosen People are not the brightest in the world.

The Apostles were given the Keys to the Kingdom because they trusted in who Jesus was.

Peter's answer showed the difference between the Apostles and the rest of the world. The world was confused as to who Jesus was but the Apostles knew. Jesus would not let anyone tell who He was. Peter knew Jesus was the Messiah because of what He saw, not what He heard. They were given the Keys to the Kingdom because they were willing to trust Jesus. Those willing to trust God will have the opportunity to spread His Message more than anyone else.

Suffering is not optional.

Jesus started His preparations for the cross long before it came. Peter, in typical fashion, goes from hero to goat in a matter of hours. He does not want the Messiah to suffer. He wants Him to have a comfortable throne, high above any other one. Jesus has to remind Him that servants do not decide what God does. They must obey, not dictate. What He adds gives why—it is through suffering that we understand the True Nature of God. Through suffering we find our true selves by giving ourselves to God.
Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? (Matthew 16:24-26, The Message)
Only through sacrifice we not only find our souls, we find God protecting our souls.

When Jesus returns, the world will compare Him to those who openly obey Him.

Jesus warned the Apostles that by openly associating themselves with Him they would receive both the suffering and the blessing that He received. If they were willing to suffer, they would be revered; however, if they were unwilling to suffer or were ashamed of their suffering, why would they be revered? Our steady faith—or lack of—projects onto Jesus and not only ourselves.

Would Jesus need to apologize for you?

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