Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost 30/08/2020

Sermon- Pentecost 13- “The Apostle Peter- Scene 2.”  Pastor Joe Asher, Kaiserslautern Evangelical Lutheran Church, Germany.  Office of International Mission, LCMS.  *IN NOMINE JESU*

Matthew 16:21-28

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

To really understand the direction of today’s sermon, you need to remember the context from earlier in Matthew chapter 16.  If you recall from last Sunday’s message, Jesus asked the question-

Who do people say that the Son of Man is?

The disciples supplied our Lord with the “word on the street” about Christ’s identity.  They said that many believed Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead.  Others were certain that Jesus of Nazareth was one of the Old Testament prophets come again to help Israel… and the names of Elijah and Jeremiah were suggested.

But then our Savior asked the disciples-

But who do you say that I am?

And it was Peter who gave the solid and accurate confession regarding the Savior.  He said-

You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

And our Lord acknowledged Peter’s confession as truth which was revealed from the Heavenly Father.  And then Christ said that this confession would be the rock upon which He will build His Church, and that even the power of hell would not prevail against the Church.

So Peter, last week, was put forward as an example to follow, and also as a model of the bold Christian witness which we would do well to emulate.

But what a difference a week makes!  In today’s Gospel, Peter goes from the paradigm of discipleship that we need to follow, to one who speaks for the enemy and opposes the will of Christ.  

Asher/ p.2

Now before we go any further, let’s pause and draw an important truth from God’s Word.  Like the apostle Peter, all of us are simultaneously saint and sinner.  So in the life of Peter and in our own lives, we can see that we constantly battle sin while at the same time God counts our faith in Jesus “as righteousness.” (Romans 4:24)

In last Sunday’s text, Peter was certainly at the top of his game and a bold witness for the Savior.

But it is also true that we are simultaneously sinners, and we struggle with our corrupt human nature and this fallen world.  So, in the life of Peter and in our own lives, we can see the truth of this reality on a daily basis.  And in today’s Gospel, Peter reverts back to, as Jesus says in verse 23, setting his mind on the things of man, rather than setting his mind on the things of God.

With Peter in view, at this point we need to take a quick inventory of our own lives.  We need to ask the question: Where do we fall into the trap of taking a human perspective rather than a God-centered perspective?

Well, the potential traps for taking the human view of things rather than God’s view are all over the place.  For example, should we take a job or promotion just because it means more money?  If you look at the world primarily from a dollars and cents point-of-view, absolutely, take the promotion.  But a God-centered perspective will “count the cost.”  The Christian will determine what a new job or promotion means in terms of a whole host of things, especially-

  • Time with God
  • Time with family
  • One’s mental and emotional health
  • Can you do this job to the glory of God?

From God’s perspective, a so-called “better job” may not be better for you.

What about the question of which church you should attend?  Is it the one that serves you the most, with a great youth program and plenty of people like you?  Or should you attend the church where you grow in your faith through the preaching and teaching of the Word… shouldn’t you attend the church where you can best serve the Lord with your time, talent, and spiritual gifts?  Maybe God wants you in a place that surprises everyone because you can uniquely serve Christ in that place.

And now to our students.  What about team practices or working a job when you need to be in church?  Sometimes we want the coach or boss to have a good feeling about us.  We want to be loyal to the team or job.  I understand that.  But I’m going to say the same thing to you that Jesus said to Peter-

Are you setting your mind on the things of God, or on the things of man?

As young Christians, you’ve got to determine what comes first.  Is it the team?  Or paycheck?  Or time with God?  And please understand that the choice you make is a witness to others about what really matters in your life.  So is it starting on the team?  Or your life in Christ.  And please know that God blesses the right choice.

Often we fall into the trap of taking the human perspective because we want to remain in our comfort zone, not rock the boat, and maintain the status quo.  But God would have us see this fallen world 

Asher/ p.3

Through His eyes, and the eyes of faith.

In today’s Gospel reading, Peter insisted on taking Jesus aside to tell the Son of God- “You don’t need to die.  Far be it from you, Lord, this shall never happen to you.”

And Peter’s opposition to Christ resulted in Jesus having to say, verse 23-

Get behind me satan.  You are a hindrance to Me.  For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.

Jesus was strongly reminding Peter that God has His plan for this world.  It is not up for discussion.  God is in control, and He does not need our advice or guidance.

This understanding that God is God and we are not God reminds me of the old 1970’s bumper sticker which read-

God is My Co-Pilot

I used to love that phrase.  I liked the image of God right there next to me as I navigate through life.

But life is too complex for sound bites.  And the sentiment “God is My Co-Pilot” is a sound bite.  And when you think about it, as Christians we want God to pilot our aircraft through life.  And the joke is that if God is our co-pilot, then we need to switch seats.

Even more to the point, with our limited vision and understanding, we really shouldn’t want to be anywhere near the aircraft’s controls.  God must direct our lives.  He must accomplish our salvation in His way.  And that required the cross and Jesus’ payment for sin.

And that is why Peter taking Jesus aside and rebuking Him is so wrong.  Peter wanted to give the Savior advice and have Him avoid the cross.  It’s like Peter was elbowing in and taking the controls of the aircraft and saying to the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity… “Let me explain to you what needs to happen.”

But Peter’s advice and taking of the controls would have been disastrous because the fisherman apostle had set his mind on the things of man, and not on the things of God.  And worse than this, Peter became a hindrance to Christ, and he was speaking for satan… the enemy.

As followers of Jesus, we have to come to the conclusion that God is in control and knows what He is doing.  We’ve got to get out of the pilot’s seat and move out of the way so that it is God Who directs our lives.

And our Lord Jesus underlines this truth when He further tells His disciples- verses 24-25

24 “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” 

Christ must endure the cross at Calvary to save the world from sin.  And we must, in the Spirit’s power, relinquish the controls and follow Jesus, which also involves suffering in His service and mission.  Cross bearing is unpleasant.  No one likes to do it.  But the denial of self and carrying a cross in service to Christ is what following Jesus is all about.

Asher/ p.4

But in today’s reading, there is reason to have hope.  First, our Lord tells His disciples that on the third day He will rise.  So as Christians, we serve a risen Savior Who promises us all a full and meaning and meaningful life in Him.  

And the second reason for hope connects to the first.  Jesus promises that whoever loses his life for His sake will find it.  And this truth reinforces what we already know about following Jesus.

  • Real life is only found in Christ
  • We live each day forgiven and free of condemnation
  • Our Lord supplies real peace in knowing He is in control
  • Our Savior gives us a purpose for living
  • Finally, Jesus makes whatever we lose in this world pale in significance to joy found in Him

Finding life in Jesus makes life worthwhile.

In Jesus’ name.


+Sola Deo Gloria+

Pentecost 13- KELC- Prayers of the Congregation- 8/30/20

Gracious Heavenly Father– On this Sunday where we see Peter’s failure to follow Christ’s Word and direction, we pray that You would always turn our hearts to Jesus so that we would always die to self, take up our cross, and follow our Savior.  Give us a God-centered perspective in ALL things.

Lord in Your mercy……………………………………………………………… Hear our prayer.

Blessed Savior, You have forgiven our sins and delivered us from death by Your death on Calvary and Your Easter resurrection. Continue to pour out Your mercy upon us, and grant to us all good things needful to this body and life.  We further pray that You would keep us from all things harmful.

Lord in Your mercy…………………………………………………………………. Hear our prayer.

Eternal Holy Spirit, we bless Your name and we praise You for the power which You give to live the Christian life.  Turn us for all sin and selfishness, and give us joy in the service of Christ our Lord.  

Finally, Merciful Lord, in our families and among our friends and co-workers there are many who are in need of Your care.  For all who are sick, hospitalized, unemployed, lonely, away on duty assignments, and for all other needs, we name our loved ones in our hearts before you now………………………….


Lord in Your mercy/ hear our prayer.

Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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