“Four Reasons to Die For”
& Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ The Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 25 Nov. 2012
16:21 From there, Jesus began to show His disciples that it was
necessary for Him to go away into Jerusalem and to suffer many things from the
elders and high priests and scribes, and to be killed, and to be resurrected
during the third day.
16:22 And after taking Him aside, Peter began to reprimand Him,
saying, “Mercy on you, Lord; this should never happen to you!”
16:23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Go on behind me, Satan!
You’re being [the occasion of] a trap for me, because you’re not thinking about
the things of God but rather about the things of men.”
16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If someone wants to
come [along] behind me, he must renounce allegiance to himself and take up his
cross and keep following me.
16:25 For whoever wants to save his soul will abandon it, but
whoever abandons his soul for my sake will find it.
16:26 For what is a man profited if he happened to gain the
whole universe, but be penalized his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange
for his soul?
16:27 For the Son of Man is about to come in His Father’s glory
with His angels, and then pay back to each man according to his deeds.
16:28 I’m telling y’all the truth, [that] there are some of you
standing here who will never taste death until whenever they see the Son of Man
coming in His kingdom.”
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was a German pastor
during the time of the Nazis. He wrote a book entitled The Cost of Discipleship, in which he
stated, “Only a man thus totally committed in discipleship can experience
the meaning of the cross… The cross is laid on every Christian. The first
Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon
the attachments of this world… [W]e surrender ourselves to Christ in union
with His death—we give over our lives to death… When Christ calls a man,
He bids him come and die… death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old
nature at his call. Jesus’ summons to the rich young man was calling him
to die, because only the man who is dead to his own will can follow
Christ. In fact, every command of Jesus is a call to die, with all our
affections and lusts…”
- In one edition of this book is a foreword written
by a G. Leibholz describing Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life story: “Bonhoeffer
was first arrested for helping Jews escape to Switzerland… Bonhoeffer was
surrounded by lukewarm pastors and cultural ‘Christians’ who supported Hitler.
To most people in the established German Lutheran church, security and
wealth had become more important than Biblical truth and faithfulness to
God. When he was imprisoned, he was separated from those who, like him,
trusted God… He refused to recant, and defied the Gestapo machine by
openly admitting that, as a Christian, he was an implacable enemy of
National Socialism and its totalitarian demands toward the citizen—defied
it, although he was continually threatened with torture and with the
arrest of his parents, his sisters and his fiancée… God… granted him the ‘costly
grace’ — that is, the privilege of taking the cross for others and of
affirming his faith by martyrdom… He was executed by hanging at Flossenbürg
concentration camp on April 9, 1945, shortly before its liberation.”
- In a different book, the camp doctor of Flossenbürg
recorded this impression of the events: “On the morning of that day
between five and six o’clock, the prisoners… were taken from their cells,
and the verdicts of the court martial read out to them. Through the
half-open door in one room of the huts I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer, before
taking off his prison garb, kneeling on the floor praying fervently to his
God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout
and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he
again said a short prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave
and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty
years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so
entirely submissive to the will of God.”
- Whatever his faults might have been, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
stands as an example of what Jesus meant when He commanded us to:
Now, these three commands in v. 24 are followed
by three verses (plus one more in the parallel passages) all starting with
the Greek word “gar,” which
is translated into English “for” (unfortunately the NIV omits the second
one, but it’s there in Greek). It’s a neat syntax structure which Jesus
employs to give us four reasons (I’m going to alliterate them all with the
letter “p”) why Christians should deny themselves, take up their crosses,
and follow Him:
- Deny – or renounce allegiance
to – yourself. Submit to Jesus as your Lord.
- Take up your cross
– Help carry the very instrument of your death, putting to death the
deeds of the body, by the Spirit (Romans 8) … putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, and making no
provision for the flesh in regard to its
lusts. (Rom. 13:14, NASB, cf. Col. 3; Galatians 2:20 and 5:16-25, James 1:21), and
following Jesus – The opposite of renouncing allegiance
to self is a formal and enduring allegiance to Jesus, with all the
changes it brings of becoming more like Him.
- Because this is the PATH to salvation (v.25),
- Because the PRICE of disobedience is too great
- Because there is PERIL in God being ashamed of
us (Lk. 9:26/Mk. 8:38),
- Because there is a PENDING Judgment when Jesus
Thus the title of my sermon: “Four reasons to die
1. Die to self and follow Christ because this is the PATH to salvation
16:25 For whoever wants to save his
soul will abandon it, but whoever abandons his soul for my sake will find it.
‘ος γαρ [ε]αν
θελη την ψυχην
αυτην, ‘ος δ’ αν
απολεση την ψυχην
- This is very similar
to the statement we already saw in Matt. 10:38-39 “He who is not accepting
his cross and following after me is not worthy of me. The one who has
found his life will destroy it, but the one who has destroyed his life for
the sake of me, he will find it!” (NAW)
- By comparing Matthew 16:25 with parallel passages
in the other Gospel books, we can see that Jesus used two words
synonymously for the word “find”:
8:35 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever
loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save (Lk. 9:24 also has
‘save’ - σωσει) it.”
17:33 “Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever
loses his life will preserve
– “keep it alive”).
- So I conclude that “save” and “keep alive” are
what Jesus meant by “find.”
- There are so many people who try to “find
themselves” by leaving their Christian heritage and experimenting with other
religions and cultures, but Jesus says that the way to find yourself is
to get life from Him. The way of life and salvation is through renouncing
allegiance to yourself and being a follower of Jesus.
- The Greek word for “soul/life” is used both in
v.25 as well as in v.26, but unfortunately, most English versions
translate it with two different words – “life” in v.25 and “soul” in v.26,
so there is some loss of continuity in the translation, but since it is
the same Greek word, we can use the statement in v.26 to define more of
what Jesus meant by the word “soul/life,” and in v.26 it seems to be
describing a part of a human which can be given up or demanded as payment
for sin, but apparently there can be no enjoyment of physical things without
- The parallel passage in the Gospel of Luke
equates the “soul” with the “self” (Luke 9:25 “For what is a man profited
if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself -
- “The soul is the spiritual and immortal part of
man, which thinks and reasons… which actuates the body now, and will
shortly act in a separation from the body… they are ourselves.” ~Matthew
- The third key word in v.25 is απολεσει – which is
used in the Gospel of Matthew to mean: assassination (2:13, 12:14), removal
and thus the loss of use of something (5:29), dying in a natural disaster
(8:25), breaking something so that it becomes useless (9:17), being
spiritually lost like sheep (10:6, 15:24), the destruction of being in
hell (10:28), punishment by execution (21:41, 22:7, 27:20), and dying
(26:52). The English translation “lose” is not a very robust translation
of the word. I translated it “abandon,” but “kill” would not be too strong
a translation. This brings us back to taking up our cross and counting our
sinful nature dead.
- The traditional teachings of Islam are inspiring
young men these days to strap bombs onto themselves and kill Westerners,
because Mohammed promised that they would go straight to heaven if they
die fighting infidels. (We saw a similar thing back in World War II with
the Japanese Kamikazes.)
- But this is not what Jesus taught. To die
for His sake meant renouncing devotion to self and following Him.
Although it could lead to being killed by tyrants who cannot
tolerate our allegiance to the one true God, it is figurative language in
strong terms to describe a change in thinking and lifestyle.
- In v.24, we see that the mind which is set on the
things of God has a willKJV/ wishNAS/ desireNKJ
to follow Jesus. This is an act of the will, “he wouldNIV,ESV
come after me” Now in v.25, this word for “will” shows up again in
reference to the purpose of a person’s life.
- It could be taken one of two ways:
1.Whoever is oriented around their personal quality of life,
minding their self-interest will lose – or destroy – himself; but
whoever abandons their own self-interest and cares about Jesus’
interests will find the good life.
2. Alternately, because the Greek word translated “but” here can also
be translated “and,” another way of translating this verse could be,
“whoever wants God to save them must lose their life by abandoning
allegiance to self, and whoever does this (by taking up their
cross and following Christ), will find that their soul is saved.”
Either way you read the first half of the verse –
whether as a warning against selfishness or whether as a recipe for salvation,
the same unexpected truth comes out: those who deny themselves, take up their
cross, and follow Jesus will find life instead of miserable death!
- “Do not love the world nor the things in the
world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the
eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from
the world. The world is passing away, and also
its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John
2. Die to self
and follow Christ because the PRICE of disobedience is too great
16:26 For what is a man profited if
he happened to gain the whole universe, but be penalized his soul? Or what will
a man give in exchange for his soul?
τί γαρ ωφελειται
ανθρωπος εαν τον
κοσμον ‘ολον κερδηση
την δε ψυχην αυτου
ζημιωθη; ὴ τί δωσει
της ψυχης αυτου;
- The Greek word translated “gain” (Κερδηση) is used both to
indicate winning the heart of another person (Mat. 18:15; 1Cor.
9:20; 1Pet. 3:1) and it is used to indicate earning income, such as
in the parable of the talents, where the men invested their master’s money
and doubled it in dividends (Mat. 25:16-22, cf. James 4:13).
- Jesus floats out a hypothetical situation: What it
you could somehow earn in profits everything the world has to offer, but
lose your soul in the deal? Would you spring for that?
- The Greek word translated loseKJV/forfeitNAS,NIV,ESV
- In Paul’s letters
to the Corinthians, it is translated “suffer loss” (1Cor. 3:15; 2 Cor.
- In the parallel Gospel accounts, the word
“lose/destroy” from v.25 is used as a synonym for this word (Luke 9:25 “For
what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses - απολεσας - or forfeits - ζημιωθεις
- himself?” cf. Mk. 8:36)
- In the Greek Old Testament, when spelled in the passive
voice as it is here, it often is used to indicate a penalty or a fine
(Ex. 21:22; Deut. 22:19; Prov. 17:26; 21:11; 22:3), and this is the sense
which I think fits best.
- If the price of gaining the world was the loss of
your soul, would it be worth the tradeoff? Of course not, for without your
soul there is no self to enjoy what you just ‘bought the farm’ for! There
is nothing you can give in exchange for your soul, because you are not you
anymore without your soul! Your soul is of infinite value to you! Nothing
on earth is worth the price of your soul.
- This was exactly the offer that Satan had made to
Jesus during his temptation in chapter 4. If Jesus had accepted lordship
over the world from Satan’s hand, He would have ceased to be who He was;
He wouldn’t be God anymore, but rather a vassal of Satan. The sham that
the Devil offered Jesus – and that he offers us too – that he can give
anything in the world to us is a total rip-off. There is no deal.
- What is true of the greater is even more
true of the lesser. Would it be worth trading your soul for
eternity in hell to anything less than the whole world? Is it worth
that little luxury you covet? When we look at it in this light, the answer
is obviously NO!
- “[H]ow brutish the stupor that the world should…
not consider why they were born, and that their immortal soul was given to
them that they should live for ever… If we consider this earnestly, it
will easily shake off the empty imaginings of earthly happiness.” ~John
- This is “an earnest appeal that his disciples may
always be willing to lose their lives for the sake of Christ’s cause… to choose
between love and selfishness, between life and death.” ~William Hendriksen
- Philippians 3:8
“…I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing
Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and
count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” (NASB)
- The PATH to life and salvation is through
renouncing allegiance to yourself and following Christ. The PRICE of
disobeying Jesus’ command to deny yourself and follow Him is the loss of
your soul, and that is too high a price to pay. And now the third
3. Die to self
and follow Christ because there is PERIL in God being ashamed of us (Lk.
The parallel passage in Luke 9:26 adds a third reason not stated in
Matthew: “For whoever shall be ashamed of me
and of my words [Mark 8:38
adds in this adulterous and sinful
generation] the Son of Man shall be ashamed of him…”
- Since this is outside of Matthew, I won’t spend a
whole lot of time on this point, but it bears mentioning that the stakes
are extremely high.
- By disobeying Jesus’ command to deny ourselves,
take up our cross and follow Him, we put ourselves in peril of God being
ashamed of us, unwilling to lift a finger to save us on judgment day.
- I want to hear,
“Well done, my good and faithful servant!” when I stand before God, and in
order for that to happen, I must not, I cannot be ashamed of Jesus
or of His words, no matter how much unbelievers or even fellow Christians
ridicule me for following Jesus and the Bible.
- I’ve often had
conversations with members of my family who are trying to implement what
the Bible says in various practical areas and are feeling like freaks
around their Christian friends who do not have convictions in these areas
– or who have different convictions. It’s hard to live to please Jesus when
it means going against what is normal in the culture around us, and it’s
hard to endure the feeling of being judged by people – even when others
are not actually judging you.
- And if it comes to the point, as it did with
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, that I am faced with the consequence of death in an
extermination camp for following Christ, Lord help me face that death
rather than face God being ashamed of me!
- “[T]he life saved is but for a moment, the death
shunned is but as a sleep; but the life lost is everlasting, and the death
run upon is the depth and complement of all misery, and an endless
separation from all good.” ~Matthew Henry
4. Die to self
and follow Christ because there is PENDING Judgment (v.27-28)
16:27 For the Son of Man is about to
come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then pay back to each man
according to his deeds.
γαρ ‘ο Υιος του
ερχεσθαι εν τη
και τοτε αποδωσει
- If Jesus Himself is going to bring an abrupt end
to history as we know it, with a day on which He evaluates the life of
every person on the planet, then it will be very important that He finds
us obedient to the commands He gave us to observe.
- This language here in v.27 about the Son of Man
coming in glory with angels matches many other Bible passages about Jesus’
second coming as the ultimate judge:
- Matthew 24:30-31
“And then the sign of the Son of Man will
appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and
they will see the SON OF MAN
COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His
elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” (NASB)
25:31-34 “But when
the Son of Man comes in His glory,
and all the angels with Him,
then He will sit on His
glorious throne. All the
nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one
another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will
put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right,
‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for
you from the foundation of the world.’” (NASB)
8:38 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this
adulterous and sinful generation, the Son
of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the
holy angels.” (NASB)
- Revelation 14:7-10
“and he said with a loud voice, ‘Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His
judgment has come; worship Him who made the
heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.’ … Then another
angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone
worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or
on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is
mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented
with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the
- This Judgment Day officiated by Jesus as the
glorious Son of Man is a clear and inescapable part of Biblical teaching.
Only those who have renounced the right to run their own lives and who
are following Jesus as their commander, trusting His perfect obedience to
God’s law and His death on the cross, only they will awarded a
“Not guilty” sentence on judgment day.
- The phrase “rewardKJV,NIV/ repayNAS,ESV
to each man according to his deeds” appears to be Matthew’s own translation
of the Hebrew text of Job 34:11, and/or Psalm 62:12, and Proverbs 24:12.
- Back in Matt. 6, Jesus
already mentioned this coming day of final rewards:
- Encouraging us in Matt. 6:4 to give in
secret, in light of the fact that “your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward
- He also encouraged us to pray in our closets
where people can’t see us praying in light of the fact that “your Father
who sees what is done in
secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:6, NASB)
- And then a few
verses later said the same kind of thing about fasting (Matt.
6:18 so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father
who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you – NASB)
- This payback time was also prophesied by Moses in
Deut. 7:10, where he wrote
that Jehovah God “repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy
them; He will not delay with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his
- The Apostle Paul tells us
something more specific in 2 Tim. 4:8,
when he calls the reward which will be given to all who love His
appearing, “the crown of righteousness.” (In the same passage, he
mentions that Alexander the coppersmith who caused a lot of trouble for
the Christians in Ephesus would get “what for” in the coming judgment.)
- What we do in our lives today will be
rewarded with either blessings or punishments in the life to come, but
they are not the deciding factor in whether we experience heaven
or hell for eternity. If we look at the whole counsel of scripture,
we see that good deeds are not the key that gets us into heaven.
Rather, salvation is entirely a gift of God given freely to
us, “for, by grace are you saved, through faith, not as a result of
works” (Eph. 2:8).
- William Hendriksen summed up the role of deeds well
when he wrote, “There will be degrees of punishment and also degrees of
glory. Note the
expression ‘many stripes… few stripes’ in Luke 12:47-48, and see also
Daniel 12:3 and 1 Cor. 3:12-14… [W]orks will show both whether or not a person is a genuine believer in Christ, and
also to what extent he has
used or abused the light which he received (Rev. 20:13; 1 Cor. 3:12-14).”
- When Jesus returns from heaven as the glorious
judge, He will reward with a crown of righteousness those who abandoned
their self-interests to follow Him and do what He commanded.
- But this final judgment would be well into the
future, and Jesus does not want His disciples to waver in their certainty
of the coming judgment and reward, so He adds the following tag as a bit
16:28 I’m telling y’all the truth, [that]
there are some of you standing here who will never taste death until whenever
they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
Αμην λεγω ‘υμιν
‘οιτινες ου μη γευσωνται
θανατου ‘εως αν ιδωσιν
τον Υιον του Ανθρωπου
ερχομενον εν τη
- What did Jesus mean by “taste Death?
- “Taste” (γευσωνται)
literally means to savor the flavor of something, such as
in John 2:9 “When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become
- But here, as in the parallel passages Luke 9:27
& Mark 9:1, it is figurative for experiencing something
– in this case, death – instead of a flavor of food.
- So, some of the followers of Jesus who were
standing there at the time would not die until after they had seen “the
Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
to what event is Jesus referring when He says, “the Son of Man coming in
- This phrase is found nowhere else in the Bible,
so we don’t have the convenience of an easy cross-reference, but there
are many places in the Bible where the “kingdom” is said to “come.”
- Jesus had already taught His followers to pray
for our heavenly Father’s kingdom to come on earth as in
heaven (Matthew 6:10 || Luke 11:2)
- But if you look at the way the Jews of Jesus’
day spoke of the “coming kingdom,” it becomes clear that they meant the
coming of the Messiah as a king to fulfill God’s promise to
David of a descendent who would reign forever.
- It’s what the Jews yelled as
they welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem as the royal Messiah in Mark 11:10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the
phrase is also used to describe the future hope of a wealthy Jewish
leader who believed that Jesus was the Messianic King of the Jews and
buried Jesus in his own cemetery Mark 15:43 Joseph of Arimathea
came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the
kingdom of God... (NASB)
- In Luke
17:20ff, when the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was coming, Jesus said that it was already among them, and that a day of
judgment would come later.
- So, did this
prediction Jesus made come true? Did some of His 12 disciples see the Son
of Man coming in His kingdom before they died? And when exactly did that
- A few things we can all agree on, I hope:
- There would be a plurality of Jesus’ disciples
who would not have tasted death at the time,
- “The Son of Man” refers to Jesus,
- and this is an event where He moves from one
place or state to another “comes/goes” as a king who has a kingdom.
- Furthermore, the parallel passage in Luke 9:27 says, “will not taste
death until they see the kingdom of God.” Mark 9:1 says the same thing and
adds, “…after it has come with power.” So “The son of Man coming in His
kingdom” is the same as “the kingdom of God [after it has come with
- There is some relationship
between this verse and the previous one (Mt. 16:27) where the “…Son of
Man is about to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then pay
back to each man according to his deeds.”
- What are the historical possibilities? (See
- I start by
rejecting as an a priori
assumption the possibility that Jesus was mistaken.
- In terms of there being some disciples
who had not tasted death and others who had at the time, when
some saw Jesus come or go in His kingdom, it seems we can’t entirely
rule out the events which happened before any of the disciples
died (such as the Transfiguration and Triumphal entry) because “some” is
a subset of “all,”
- and it is debatable whether or not we can rule
out the visions of the exalted Jesus in the book of Acts,
- Jesus’ death,
resurrection, ascension, and sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost
certainly involve comings and goings of Jesus and His Spirit at a time when
one of His disciples was dead, even though they lack the final
consummation of glory which would seem to be a complete fulfillment of
- The destruction of Jerusalem and end of the
Jewish state in 70AD certainly saw some disciples alive and others
dead, but it could be debated how much this could be considered a coming
of Jesus and whether any of the disciples were there to see it.
- It think we can rule out with some certainty
anything that happened after the end of the first century AD, because
all of the disciples had died by then, so the claims by the Jehovah’s
Witnesses and other cult groups that Jesus made some secret appearance
or had some change in status in modern times cannot be the fulfillment,
nor can the Biblical event of Jesus’ “second coming” in judgment to
destroy the earth and make a new heavens and earth be the timing that
Jesus is talking about.
PLURALITY OF DISCIPLES ALIVE?
ANY DISCIPLES DEAD?
JESUS COMING OR GOING?
Yes, but only 3 saw it
No, but 9 did not see
Temporarily changed into glorified state
Physically entering Jerusalem and adored by crowds
Jesus’ death and resurrection
Into the grave and out with glorified body.
The coming of the Holy Spirit
Visions of Jesus in heaven, such as Stephen’s or
Yes – but one at a time
Already in glory
Destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD
Yes (Phillip, John, ???) – but may not have seen it.
Yes (Judas, both Jameses, Peter, ???)
Earthly judgment on Jerusalem and shift of earthly church
Secret “coming” or change in Jesus’ heavenly status in
No clear support from scripture.
2nd coming of Christ to judge mankind,
destroy & recreate earth.
Glory and judgment in future coming to earth
- So when I went to read my favorite commentators on
this topic, I was surprised to find that all the ones that commented on
it were agreed that Jesus was speaking of His disciples seeing, in their
lifetime, the inaugural events of Jesus coming into His kingly
role as Messiah, considering all the marvelous events of the Gospels and
the book of Acts as the fulfillment of seeing “The Son of Man coming in
- “Understand ‘the
coming of the kingdom of God’ as the manifestation of the heavenly
glory which Christ inaugurated at His resurrection and showed more
fully by sending the Holy Spirit and by performing wonderful miracles.
For in those beginnings He gave His people a taste of the newness of
the heavenly life…” ~Calvin
does teach that a great manifestation of God’s Kingdom would be seen by
some of his disciples and that the signs that point to the coming of
the Kingdom would be seen by his own generation. Other
sayings point to a delay of the Kingdom to an indeterminate future.
The predominating emphasis is upon the uncertainty of the time, in the
light of which people must always be ready. This
is the characteristic perspective of the Old Testament prophets.” ~G.E.
- “Jesus is making
use of ‘prophetic foreshortening.’ He regards the entire state of
exaltation, from his resurrection to his second coming, as a unit. In
verse 27 he describes its final consummation; here in verse 28 its
beginning. Here, then, he is saying that some of those whom he is
addressing are going to be witnesses of this beginning… his
glorious resurrection… Pentecost, and… his reign from his position at
the Father’s right hand, a rulership that would become evident in the
history of the post-Pentecost church as described in the book of Acts.
Again and again these great happenings… are in Scripture associated
with the ideas of power, kingship, exaltation, and coronation…
(Acts 1:6-8; 2:32-36; Eph. 1:19-23; Phil. 2:9; Heb. 2:9; I Peter 1:3;
and Rev. 12:10) … Judas Iscariot never saw any of it… Some of the
apostles were absent when certain important events took place.”
- Remember the context: Jesus told His disciples, “I’m
going to Jerusalem and I will be killed, but the gates of death won’t be
stronger, and you won’t even taste death before you see me revealed as the
Messianic King you’ve been waiting for.”
So, don’t be afraid of death. Deny yourself, take up your cross, and
follow Jesus because:
Christ-directed self-abandonment is
the PATH of salvation (v.25) – so don’t fight it like Peter fought against
Jesus’ abandonment to death. Losing your self in abandonment to Christ is the
only way to be saved.
Your soul is PRICEless, unworthy of
throwing away over anything this world has to offer (v.26) – so don’t let the
things of this world capture your heart. Give your heart instead to Jesus and
you will find life.
The PERIL of God turning His back on
you is reason enough to endure any earthly rejection or even death. Jesus’ opinion
of you is more important than what anyone else thinks, and so we must act now
in light of eternity with or without Him.
is coming back to judge the world (v.27), and in this PENDING judgment, our behavior
and our accomplishments will be evaluated in light of whether we followed Him.
- I want to close with the words of a hymn penned
by Dietrich Bonhoffer in the concentration camp, shortly before his death:
“By gracious powers so wonderfully sheltered,
And confidently waiting come what may,
we know that God is with us night and morning,
and never fails to greet us each new day.
Yet is this heart by its old foe tormented,
Still evil days bring burdens hard to bear;
Oh, give our frightened souls the sure salvation
for which, O Lord, You taught us to prepare.
And when this cup You give is filled to brimming
With bitter suffering, hard to understand,
we take it thankfully and without trembling,
out of so good and so beloved a hand.
Yet when again in this same world You give us
The joy we had, the brightness of Your Sun,
we shall remember all the days we lived through,
and our whole life shall then be Yours alone.”