Sharing Our Faith Together

Morning Worship for Sunday 30 August 2020

by Andy Cokayne 30 August 2020

Welcome - A call to worship from Psalm 105 v 1-4

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Our first hymn is 'Here I am to worship'

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​Prayer and Lord's Prayer

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Our second hymn is 'My Jesus, I love Thee' 

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One of the passages of scripture set for today is : Matthew 16 v 21-28

 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, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’ Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’

 Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

 ‘Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’

Discipleship has a Cost, a Cross. 

Up until now you sense that time has been travelling steadily on, Jesus has been steadily teaching his disciples, largely through parables and miracles. As Peter led us through the preceding verses last week, Jesus questioned his disciples, "Who do you say I am?" Peter proclaimed "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." You sense Jesus must have breathed a sigh of relief, at last his teaching has finally reaped its reward, at last they have realised for themselves who He is, at least Peter has! Or has he? 

However in today's passage all of a sudden someone has hit the accelerator, and Jesus bursts forth with so many key points for the disciples to absorb, you sense that they struggle to keep up. Here Jesus begins to explain that he must suffer many things, be killed and on the third day be raised to life. For Peter this is too much and he rebukes Jesus for saying such things. But Jesus in turn rebukes Peter, saying he does not have in mind the things of God. Jesus then goes on to say to his disciples that if they want to follow Him they must deny themselves, and take up their own cross, as in giving up their own life, they will find true life. Then finally Jesus tells them that the Son of Man is going to return in glory and reward each person according to what he has done. Wow! The disciples must have taken a deep breath after Jesus has presented to them all this critical teaching. 

You can imagine the disciples recoiling at Jesus words in disbelief. "We have only just realised that He is the promised Messiah, and He tells us what?" "He's going to suffer and die?" "We have to take up our own cross?" "To know life, we have to know death?" "The Son of Man is going to come in glory?" "It's what we do that counts!" You can imagine some of the disciples debating Jesus' words among themselves; some wanting time to take in what He was saying; others being somewhat confused by it all. No wonder we read that it was 6 days before the next recorded event, when we read of Jesus having his deity reinforced by the Transfiguration.

Through Peter's lips, Jesus heard the voice of Satan again trying to tempt Him. He heard Satan telling Him "You don't need to go to the cross and go through all that pain, and suffering, and death. I will make you a king if you worship me." Satan is forever wanting us to put God out of the picture and look to our own comfort and ease, rather than think on what God wants. Peter was not thinking God's thoughts. Isaiah reminds us "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.... As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55 v8-9). The cross was the way chosen, not the way of comfort and ease.    

If anyone would come after me - that means all Christians, including you and me. All Christians are called to be disciples. We must not suppose that there are two kinds of Christians: one kind that follows Jesus and suffers with Him, and a second kind that can lead an easy life. There is only one kind of true Christian; that is a disciple. The possibility of losing their lives was very real for the disciples as well as for Jesus. Real discipleship implies real commitment - pledging our whole existence to his service. If we try to save our physical life from death, pain, or discomfort, we may risk losing our true eternal life. When we give our lives in service to Christ, however, we discover the real purpose of living.

Christians do not follow after an idea, or a philosophy or even a political party. We do not even follow a religion. We follow a person - Jesus Christ. He calls us to turn around, to stop going our own way and go his way, the way of suffering, the way of the cross. When we don't know Christ, we make choices as though this life were all we have. In reality this life is just the introduction to eternity. How we live this brief span, however, determines our eternal state. When we evaluate all that happens from an eternal perspective, we find our values and decisions changing. 

As Jane reminded us in Thursday's Thought for the Day "My relationship with God is my number one focus. I know that if I take care of that, God will take care of everything else."

It is because Jesus died on a cross that the cross has become the symbol of the Christian church. The cross is a sign of God's love for us, in Jesus' death for our sins. The cross was the way Jesus chose, that is to be our way too. Discipleship has a Cost, a Cross.

Our final hymn is 'Cornerstone'

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We are united with churches throughout the country as we share together in the 'The UK Blessing'.

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