O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Ashamed of Suffering
"Ashamed of Suffering"
Preached on March 4, 2012
Click on the Play button
to listen to the Sermon.
Fellow baptized saints, have you ever been royally embarrassed by your parents? Have you caught yourself in a situation where you were hoping your parents didn't embarrass you? It can happen at any time during life, but for some strange reason the teenage years seem to stand out. Perhaps its new friends, or a special member of the opposite sex that you are trying to impress, but whatever it is, you don't want your parents to say or do anything that could negatively impact their fresh opinion. You may even find yourself treating your "new friends" with greater respect than your parents, and apologizing that they are so ‘stuffy' or something like that. You try so hard to make these "new friends" like you that when your parents aren't around, you speak poorly of them, as if you are ashamed of them. "Oh, that's just my mom, that's just my dad."
Meanwhile, this "new friend" you are trying to impress, isn't treating you so well, are they? They criticize you, but when they do it - it's cool. They aren't committed to you, but you want them to be so badly. They aren't anything like your parents, but it takes you a really long time to realize it. Some people have to have children of their own before they realize that their parents have always had their best interest at heart. But no matter how long it takes, parents wait. They never stop doing the best thing for their children, even when it hurts them, even when they suffer for them. They hope that in the end, their children will see the truth and be proud of them.
Jesus and His disciples get into the same thing in our Gospel reading this morning, don't they? Our Lord tells them plainly that He must suffer, be rejected and killed, and His disciples try and stop Him. You can't be rejected by all of leaders - that isn't cool - You can't suffer and die - what are you talking about Master?
Even though the disciples have just confessed that Jesus is the Christ. Even though they know that the prophets predicted that the Christ would suffer and die - despite all of this - they cannot accept that their Lord must suffer. It just isn't the way things are supposed to go.
They want Jesus to save His people in a worldly way. To end the Roman rule in Israel and restore the throne of David on earth. The disciples want to be generals that lead the Messiah's troops to victory against the Roman legions. They do not realize that there is much more going on here. They "are not setting their minds on the things of God, but on the things of man."
But Jesus sets them straight. He gets their minds thinking about the things of God. He asks, What are we fighting for here? Who are we really up against? What are we ashamed of? This is not a fight for an earthly kingdom, we do not live for this sinful world - this fight is for the kingdom of God - that its gates may be open to you.
And that means that I must suffer now, so that you don't suffer for all eternity. It means that I must be made into a shame now, so that you are not ashamed for all eternity. It means that I must be killed now, so that you do not die for all eternity. And I am willing to do it. I have your best interest at heart.
Like a loving parent, Christ will never stop doing what is best for His children, even though He must suffer. He hopes that in the end His disciples will see the truth and be proud of what He has endured, for such faith will be the only thing that will get them through what lies ahead.
As Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the gospel's will save it." Being a part of God's kingdom means that we may face some of the same things in our lives that Christ had to face in His. And while this may not be very appealing, the reality we face is not a question of whether we will suffer, but when we will suffer. When do you want to suffer, now for a short time with the Lord, or eternally without Him? Our Lord is being very blunt here. He is even calling His disciples Satan, because the real fight - the real enemies - are much bigger than we see - they are much more important than we understand - they are not teenage fights and teenage enemies - they are cosmic. And Christ wants His teenage disciples to understand. "For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."
How about you? Have you ever been embarrassed about your faith or hidden your Christian identity? Have you yielded to the world's pressures and become ashamed of your Savior? We all have, and it tears us up inside. We are just like His disciples. Acting like we are embarrassed by our parents. But what are we ashamed of? Why are we brought to shame by a world full of sinners, these "new friends" that treat us poorly anyway? Why are we trying to impress them instead of our heavenly Father? Think about it, who do you want to be with in the end the sinners or the righteous, the dying or the living, Satan, or the Father and his holy angels?
But this feeling, this realization of failure is exactly what the Gospel is for. It is the very reason Christ suffered and died. To remove your shame. To take away your guilt. Christ is not ashamed of you. He forgives you for all you've done. He is the parent waiting for you, hoping that you will see the truth and be proud of Him. Proud of what He has suffered - Proud of how He has died - for it is your victory - it is the defeat of your real enemies. There is no more shame, no more guilt, no more death - Christ has given you His eternal kingdom, no matter what you suffer through on earth.
And this is why you can be proud of what you suffer for Christ and His Gospel - For the holy angels, the heavenly Father, the whole company of the heavenly hosts will be commending you for it for all eternity. We are not ashamed of the Gospel, but share in its suffering, that we may share in its glory.
In the end, almost all of Jesus' disciples were martyred for the Gospel. They were not ashamed of it, because they knew it was the power of God for salvation for all those who believe. In the same way, may the Lord strengthen your faith in His Gospel promise, that you may stand with confidence on the Last Day when He comes in the glory of the Father with the holy angels. And that day may you taste that your heavenly Father has been looking out for your best interest your entire life. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr