COUNT THE COST!
Please turn in your Bibles to Mark chapter 8, and we will be looking at two separate works that were to lead to a conclusion. Jesus was showing them over and over again, teaching them, and once again they were to take what they learned and put it into practice. So as we conclude tonight, we will see how they did and we will see the conclusion that Jesus wanted them to come to.
1. Bethsaida was a town where Jesus did many mighty works and yet the people still rejected Him. And in Matthew 11:21 we see Jesus curse this town because of their unbelief.
2. Now as Jesus gets to this town, a group of people brought their blind friend to Jesus, for they believed Jesus could heal him. And their desire was to have Jesus touch him and if He did, they knew their friend would be healed. Of course God can heal any way He wants, by touching a person, just speaking forth the word, even at a distance. Dont limit the power of God.
1. I believe Jesus took this man out of the town of Bethsaida because of their unbelief. He already did many mighty works there, and they refused to believe, and thus, this was not going to make any difference in their life.
2. So as Jesus takes him out of this town, He spat in the blind mans eyes, and then Jesus touched him. Now Im sure his friends thought, "Great! Jesus healed him. He touched him!" But that was not exactly the case. He could see but only shadows. He wasnt completely healed. Why? Was Jesus down on power? Did He need to get recharged? Of course not! I believe He was stretching this mans faith. God will take you down the path you need to go so that you will trust more and more in Him. That is what He was doing with this man.
3. I think at times we place God in a box and say that He has to act a certain way. Of the seven recorded healings of blindness in the Scriptures, none are exactly the same. Why? Because God is not limited to work a certain way. Remember the story of Naaman the Syrian commander who had leprosy. Through a series of events he finds out there is a prophet in Israel who can heal this incurable disease. So as Naaman goes to see Elisha, only Elishas servant answers the door, which made him mad, he was an important person and a servant comes out to meet him.
Lets pick-up this story in II Kings 5:10-14. "And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean. But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, Indeed, I said to myself, "He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy. Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a rage. And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean? So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean." If he refused to do this seemingly foolish thing, he would have missed out on this healing. Dont limit God! If you do, you may miss out on a tremendous blessing He has for you!
1. Jesus touches him again and now he was completely healed, he had 20/20 vision. This man was climbing up the ladder of faith.
1. I dont believe this man lived in Bethsaida, but was brought there to meet Jesus. Now Jesus tells this man to return home, not to go back to Bethsaida, because of the hardness of their hearts. But what a testimony this man had for his family, his friends, for he once was blind and now he sees! That is the testimony of all those who come to Christ, spiritually blind, but now we can see!
1. Now Jesus and His men travel about 25 miles or so to the north, to an area called Caesarea Philippi. This city was located by the slopes of Mount Hermon at the source of the Jordan River, and it is a beautiful place to live.
2. Now Jesus is asking His men who the people think He is, what have they concluded about Jesus, and their response is interesting.
1. The bets were in, and some said He was Elisha, others said John the baptist, and some said that He was a prophet. But none heard what Jesus was saying, nor did they see with their hearts that He was the fulfillment of what the Old Testament prophets had said about the Messiah who was to come. You see, the Messiah they were looking for was to free them from their bondage by the Romans, a political Messiah, not a suffering servant who was to die for the sins of the people.
1. Now Jesus makes it more personal and He is asking His men what conclusion they have come to about Him. And Peter said, "You are the Christ!" He got it, but not because of his wisdom but because the Father reveled it to him. Salvation is something that God does as He opens your eyes to the truth, we cant do it on our own. And as Peter spoke these words, the other disciples, after hearing Jesus acknowledge that Peter was right, were in total agreement. They were probably saying "Preach it Peter! Right on! We agree!"
1. Why would Jesus say this? Because He did not come the first time to set-up His kingdom here on earth but to establish it in the hearts of men. Jesus recognized the self-centeredness of the people and how they would come to the wrong conclusion.
2. Now that they recognized this, Jesus is going to give them more information about the things to come, and He is trying to build their faith, to teach them the things of God that they are going to need to know.
1. Jesus is telling them of His death and resurrection, but they had selective hearing. All they heard was that He was going to die, not what they were expecting at all! They were looking for the kingdom to be set-up, for they wanted to be on the right hand and left hand of Jesus when He sat on the throne in the kingdom. In fact it wasnt until after His death and resurrection that they finally got it. In Luke 24:6-8 we read of this. It says "He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered His words."
1. Picture this in your mind. Peter gets this revelation from God about Jesus being the Messiah. He must have felt good. He had a spiritual revelation, God spoke to Him! Then Jesus speaks of His death and resurrection on the third day. Now they didnt hear the part of the resurrection, and Peter, Mr. Spiritual, takes Jesus aside when he hears these words and he begins to rebuke Jesus! "No Lord, that is not the way we have it planned. Dont talk foolishly!" Understand this, you cant tell Jesus "NO!" and then call Him "Lord!" Those are opposing views.
1. Now as soon as Peter said this, Jesus turned around to look at the disciples, and Im sure at this point they were silent. And then Jesus rebukes Peter, calling him Satan! Why did He say that? Because Peter was self-centered, and Satans plan is to keep people from the cross because that is the only thing that can save them. If you take Jesus out of the picture, if He never went to the cross, we would still be dead in our trespasses and sins, and that was Peters plan. Jesus did not have to die on the cross for our sins, and that is the plan of Satan, to keep people from the cross.
2. Our victory is in Jesus, He has set us free from the bondage of sin. But for those that refuse to look to the cross, those who believe the lies of the Devil, they will not enter into eternal life with the Lord. They have made their choice and it was not a good one.
3. Now Im sure at this point, as the disciples heard what Jesus said of Peter, they wanted to distance themselves from Peter. Im sure they were saying, "Lord, we dont agree with Peter. He is a fool. We would never say that." But understand that was not what was in their heart, for they too were looking for a place in the kingdom!
4. Now here is what they were to put into practice. They saw the miracles, they heard the teaching, and now it is time for application. And Jesus is going to show them what this is all about.
1. Here is the cost of discipleship, as Jesus shares with His men and the people who had gathered around Him. If you really want to follow after Jesus, you must deny a life of self-centeredness. You must put to death those things that hinder your relationship with Him, identifying with His suffering and death. And you must willingly and obediently follow after Him. There is always death before glory, even in this life.
1. That seems like a paradox, but it is not. If you live now to satisfy the flesh, you will die apart from Christ losing that everlasting life. If you die to this life now, sacrificing all to follow after Him, you will enter into life with Christ for eternity! As Paul said in Romans 8:16-18, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
1. This is an argument from reason. If this world is only temporary, and no matter what possessions you have accumulated in this life, you cant take it with you, you cant profit even if you were able to gain the whole world, because in the end you will be condemned for eternity in Hell! You will never see a U-Haul following a hearse, because you cant take it with you. And even if you could, what good would it be if you were the richest man in Hell? It is as Psalm 49:16-20, says, "Do not be afraid when one becomes rich, when the glory of his house is increased; For when he dies he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him. Though while he lives he blesses himself (For men will praise you when you do well for yourself), He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light. A man who is in honor, yet does not understand, is like the beasts that perish."
1. It is as Jesus said in Matthew 10:32-33, "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven." It is your choice how you will stand before God, in Christ or apart from Him. In Christ you will stand as perfect because the righteousness of Christ has been imputed into your life. You will be seen as white as snow. You will enter into that everlasting life with Him. But, outside of Christ you will stand in your own righteousness, which are like filthy rags. And you will then enter into eternity apart from Christ, eternal punishment.
2. As Paul said in Romans 10:8-10, "But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." That is a promise of God! As I said, here is the application, to make Jesus part of your life or not. The choice is yours!