Pentecost 12A—August 31, 2014
“We All Need CPR”
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Bossier City, LA
INI + AMEN.
CPR. It’s important. It save lives. It’s important for health professionals to be sure. When I was an RA (Resident Assistant) at the Seminary for a year—which was awesome because my room was free that year—but anyway, when I was an RA I had to be certified in CPR. Now, it wasn’t the first time I’d learned CPR. I wasn’t certified the first time—I don’t think—but I did learn it in Boy Scouts for one maybe two merit badges. When I learned it at the Sem, though, it was different. I always used to remember seeing and learning all sorts of steps. Start with this many compressions, this many breaths, then this many compressions, and do that for X amount of time, and repeat. Pretty complex, and it’s pretty easy to get lost. I’m not sure if that’s completely right, but I know it was more difficult than what I learned at the Sem, which, I guess, is the new standard. At the Sem I learned hands-only CPR. You only do compressions, and you do it to the rhythm of—get this—Stayin’ Alive, or maybe, Another One Bites the Dust. CPR’s that simple. We all know the step.
Last week we talked about Jesus who is the Christ, the Son of the living God. He’s the One who’s died and risen and whose forgiving Word conquers the devil’s kingdom. But is it really that simple? Is it just the one step? Is that where our focus should remain? Is it that one focus? Or is there something else? Well, we need to take our cue from Jesus. “From then on Jesus began to show openly to His disciples that it is necessary that He go up to Jerusalem, that He suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, be killed, and be raised on the third day.” Certainly Jesus had hinted at this before. Even His name does: “The angel said to Joseph, ‘You will call His name JESUS for He will save His people from their sins.’” Jesus said to the paralytic, “Be of good cheer, son. Your sins are forgiven.” Forgiveness only comes by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus also said, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” But now even more openly he says this. His focus is on His cross, passion, and resurrection. His eyes are towards Jerusalem: towards cross, passion, and resurrection. If His focus is there, what shall ours be?
OUR FOCUS REMAINS, AS JESUS’ DOES, ON CROSS, PASSION, AND RESURRECTION JESUS.
(I. The problem: We shift focus.)
The problem is we want to shift focus. Peter certainly did in a really bad way. “And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’ ” “Far be it from you, Lord!” No way, Lord. Can’t happen! Won’t happen, Lord! What Peter said is even more forceful than all that. What Peter literally said was, “May God be merciful to You, O Lord,” which is basically saying, “May God deal mercifully with You, Lord, so that such a fate doesn’t befall You. You’re the Christ. God won’t let such a miserable end come upon His Christ, His Son.” This isn’t pious sentiment on Peter’s part because he’s not shifting his own focus away from the cross, passion, and resurrection, but he’s actually shifting Jesus’ focus away from the cross, passion, and resurrection. Someone else tried to do that once: the devil.
“The devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’ ” “You don’t need to suffer, die, and be raised to save the world. Just worship me” is what the devil says. To the devil and Peter Jesus says, “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.”
Peter’s definition of Christ, of God gets stuck at Calvary. He can’t move past that. [[[ES This is what happens when human reason and definitions runs the show. Man’s definitions define God as one who can’t be born, be a man, or die. “But God can do anything…” Sure enough, but we don’t want to even put our definition of what God can and can’t do first. God does it. He said He would do, and then He did: die, suffer, and rise. So clearly He can. God does things without our permission or definitions. He preaches and teaches what He’s going to do, then He does it, and then He preaches and teaches what He did. What’s more is that we can see that…]]] [[[LS But…]]] Jesus didn’t just leave His preaching at Calvary. He said, “suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, be killed,” but He finished it up with, “and be raised on the third day.” Jesus preached His death but also His rising again. Jesus does His being Christ, His being savior, His being the Son of the living God as He does it, and He does it as He says it, “It is necessary that He go up to Jerusalem, that He suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, be killed, and be raised on the third day.” His focus is and remains on His cross, passion, and resurrection.
We want to pull a Peter though. It’s not that we can deter the Lord from Calvary—He’s already done it. But we shift our focus away from His cross, passion, and resurrection. At the end of Luke Jesus says, “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” And that’s what’s preached on Pentecost by the Apostles and continually in the Church through all time for Paul says, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” And there is no other Gospel as he says in Galatians. But it’s so easy to have a Jesus that’s more palatable, one that’s easier to swallow. We can get our foot in the door by having a Jesus other than the one who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried, and who rose again from the dead. But there is no other God than the one who was born of the virgin, who died on the cross, who rose from the dead. We can try all we want, but there’s only cross, passion, and resurrection Jesus. If we do shift focus, then Jesus’ Word applies to each of us: “You are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.
(II. The Solution: Jesus’ keeps His focus there, and this saves us.)
But Jesus isn’t deterred by Peter. It’s why Jesus says to him, “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.” But it’s also why Jesus says at the end of our text, “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.” The Son of Man, Jesus, enters His kingdom on the cross. That’s His coronation. That’s when He’s exalted. There with a thief on His right and left—not James and John like they had asked. Jesus in His glory as He hangs their suffering and dying. [[[ES This is why Jesus remembers the thief at that moment, when He said, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise.” Jesus was there on His throne granting this thief’s petition.]]] There Jesus, in His glory, receives the repayment due everyone for what they’ve done. For Peter’s tempting and wanting to change Jesus. For our shifting focus too. Jesus’ focus isn’t turned aside. It is cross focused, passion focused, and resurrection focused.
We must crucify and deny what we want to make and do with Jesus. We must deny our own ideas about Jesus. This is what Jesus means by, “deny yourselves.” Our focus remains where Jesus’ is, and His focus is on His cross, passion, and resurrection. And when we have such a Jesus, we will certainly be persecuted, laughed at, ridiculed. We won’t be popular. But we hold fast because our soul has been purchased by Jesus’ blood. We’ve gained our souls from Jesus. Our soul’s have been saved, and what if we suffer, or loose our lives? We’ll gain them back in the resurrection on the Last Day. Jesus has won those too by His death and resurrection!
CPR. It’s important. It save lives. CPR Jesus saves us. He saves us from our being off focus. He saves our souls, and He save our lives. Yes, cross, passion, resurrection Jesus saves us. That’s the Jesus we’re all in need of. OUR FOCUS REMAINS, AS JESUS’ DOES, ON CROSS, PASSION, AND RESURRECTION JESUS. He keeps us locked in there when He delivers His cross, passion, and resurrection to us in the waters of Holy Baptism, in the Words of forgiveness, and in in His body and blood in His Supper. It’s there that we receive eternal CPR. There’s Jesus’ cross, passion, and resurrection given to us. May not be the things men think of, but cross, passion, and resurrection are God’s things. His focus is there; so ours is too both now and forever. For in eternity we shall ever behold and praise and sing, “Christ the Lamb who was slain,” that is, cross, passion, and resurrection Jesus who saves us not just in this life but also the life to come.
INI + AMEN.