Dr. Charles Franklin DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
September 9, 2012
 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.  And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
-- Mark 8:31-33, ESV
As we continue to think about the miracle of grace that brings salvation to our minds, hearts, and lives, I want us to focus for a moment on the heart. With our hearts, Christians accept Christ for what He has done. Jesus preached about what He has done, even before He did it, in Mark 8:31-33.
What Jesus Did
What Jesus did should be plain to us today. It is written in the Bibles, Old Testament and New. Iit rings in the hymns we sing in our worship services. It is even pictured on our windows and walls in the sign of the empty cross. But the work of the Christ was not plain to His original disciples until “… He said this plainly” (ref. vs. 32). After almost three years of miracles and parables that perhaps went a little over their heads, Jesus plainly talks to the twelve about the cold hard cost of Christianity. Eternal life demands death, the sacrificial death of the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ.
Jesus had made veiled comments about the cross before (ref. Matthew 12:40; John 2:19). But this was the first of a few times He would speak directly about His death to His disciples (ref. Matthew 16:21, 17:23, 20:19; Mark 8:31-33, 9:31, 10:34; Luke 9:22, 18:33). Obviously, it was not the sermon they expected. But here are the four things that the King of kings and Lord of lords came to do: “suffer …, be rejected …, be killed, and … rise again” (ref. vs. 31).
Jesus suffered, many things, like no man has ever suffered. The King of glory became poor. The living Word lived silently for three decades. The One who is the way, the truth, and the life, put on a three-year ministry after which His way was not followed by man, His truth was not believed by almost any, and His life was put on trial then put to death. Furthermore, suffering is greatly amplified when it is not deserved.
Jesus was rejected by the powers that be, political and religious. Pilate, Rome’s governor over Judea, was inept and corrupt. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were hypocritical and hateful. The crowds that were stirred up against Jesus were misinformed mobs. Rejection is made all the more cruel when it comes from infinitely inferior people.
Jesus was killed. Death is no one’s friend and there is no good way to die. But death upon a cross is the cruelest blow that has ever been struck. It is humiliating, asphyxiating, dehydrating, and excruciating (a Latin word derived from crux, or cross). There has never been a death like crucifixion and there has never been a crucifixion like the cross of Christ.
And, after all of this, Jesus did rise again. Remember, Jesus was telling this to His first disciples for the first time. The first three things Jesus told them should have turned their stomachs. But this fourth thing should have turned them around. Yet the saving grace of the resurrection could not penetrate their hearts hardened by the incredible concept of crucifixion.
What Jesus did is plain, just as he plainly told the first disciples. But modern people, like those ancient fishermen, possess at least a couple of traits that makes what Jesus did very difficult to accept.
Why It’s Hard to Accept
In the previous paragraph (ref. Mark 8:27-30), Simon Peter spoke as an exceptional believer by confessing, “You are the Christ.” Now, in this text, he speaks like an ordinary unbeliever by blatantly rebuking the King for His presentation of the gospel. Something, or at least two things, made Peter’s heart hard so that the full gospel story was something that he just could not swallow.
Peter’s first problem was ignorance. At the time of his ill-advised rebuke, Simon Peter was not speaking primarily for humble Christians who know the whole story of redemption, but for religions Jews who could see only half the picture. The Jewish concept of Messiah involved a descendant of David miraculously riding in on a white horse to conquer all worldly powers and establish the eternal kingdom of God. This concept is half right, but at the time it was all wrong. Peter wrongly thought Jesus was headed for Jerusalem to take over, not to be taken down. Jesus attributed such ignorant unbelief to “Satan,” or adversary, or someone who opposes God’s plan of salvation. Ignorance is a great impediment to embracing the cross of Jesus Christ.
Peter’s primary problem, one even greater than ignorance, was pride. Peter thought Jesus came the first time for glory, and he wanted his share. He felt like he had been chosen by Jesus because he was good, because he was strong, because he was already fit to wear a crown beside the King of kings. But there is no crown without a cross. It is hard to accept that the free grace of Christ cost Christ His life. And the free grace of the gospel will cost a follower of Christ all that he or she has, too (see next paragraph, Mark 8:34-38).
Once one searches and finds the true gospel in the word of God, it is still hard to accept on several levels. It is hard to accept that such sinful people would do such sinful things to Jesus. It is hard to accept that sinless Jesus would do such sacrificial things for such sinful people. It is hardest to accept is that I am one of the sinful people. This was Satan’s trick on Simon, and us. He seldom tells us we’re too bad for the cross, but that we’re too good. Satan’s lies promote our pride and tempt us to reject the gospel of the blood atonement for sin. Jesus’ gospel calls us to humble ourselves, confess our sin, repent, and accept Jesus Christ for what He has done.
Accept Christ for What He Has Done
Last week I asked you to do something easy. Today I am asking you to do something hard. Next week, Lord willing, I will ask you to do something impossible.
But if you can confess Christ for who He is, I want you to accept Christ for what He has done. If you know in your mind that Jesus is who He says He is, then I want you to accept from the heart what He had done for you.
Perhaps the key is the keen switch in the names of Jesus revealed as this moment moves forward. In 8:27-30, He is “the Christ.” In our text today, 8:31-33, He is the “Son of Man.” Christ is an anointed, exalted title. Son of Man – three words in English, two in Greek, and only one in Aramaic – is a humble, self-deprecating reference, almost like saying “I’m just a man.”
This is what the Lord Jesus Christ as done for us. He became “just a man,” although He was much, much more. He became a nobody from Galilee. He allowed Himself to live in poverty. He roamed with no home, was condemned by men infinitely inferior to Him, was humiliated and beaten and nailed to a cross, was separated from the Father while the wrath of God was poured upon Him, shed His blood, and died of a broken heart. This is what Jesus did, pressed from the weight of sin and the pressure of the wrath of God, He died of a broken heart.
Now, let this break your heart and enable you to accept Jesus for what He has done. Jesus suffered and died to pay for our sin, wash away our shame, and bring us home to the irresistible grace and unconditional love of God. Let this gospel break your heart, and with a heart wide open, accept Christ for what He has done.