Sermon Starters

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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Option #1: "A Class on Life Saving"
Matthew 16:21-26
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

I. What a lifeguard can expect

    A. He often puts his own life at risk in attempting to save others

    B. He sometimes must fight with the person he is trying to save

    C. Peter didn’t understand what Jesus had to do to be our Lifeguard

1. He rebukes him--according to John MacArthur, Peter used an expression such as "God forbid." But it was for just this purpose--suffering, dying and rising again--that Jesus came to this world. In his inability to understand a humiliated, abused, and crucified Messiah, Peter unwittingly rejected God’s plan for redemption and used God’s name in the process. Hence the stern rebuke Jesus gives him.

2. Jesus had labeled Peter’s earlier faithful confession as being "rock-like," a play on words of Peter’s name (Matt 16:18). Instead of being "rock-like" in his faith, Peter has now become a stumbling block. As Marvin Vincent writes, Peter is "no longer lying in his right position as a massive foundation stone, but is rather lying right across the road that Jesus must walk."
3. Hence Jesus’ harsh rebuke, calling him "Satan" or adversary. Jesus had endured a similar temptation in the wilderness, right after his ministry began--see Matt 4:8-10.

II. If you want to save your life, you must lose it for Jesus--Mk 8:34-38; Acts 14:21ff.; 1 Thess 3:3ff.; 2 Tim 3:12-13; John 12:25-28; Acts 20:23ff.; Rev 12:11

Adam Clarke : For whosoever will save his life--that is, shall wish to save his life--at the expense of his conscience, and casting aside the cross, he shall lose it--the very evil he wishes to avoid shall overtake him; and he shall lose his soul into the bargain. See then how necessary it is to renounce one’s self! But whatsoever a man loses in this world, for his steady attachment to Christ and his cause, he shall have amply made up to him in the eternal world.

III. The only lasting gain is to follow Jesus’ example

    A. You will lose what you own in this life anyway--Lk 12:18-20; Eccl 1:1-11

    B. Following Jesus brings a reward in eternal life.

Adam Clarke : If any will come after me--i.e., to be my disciple. This discourse was intended to show Peter and the rest of the disciples the nature of his kingdom; and that the honor that cometh from the world was not to be expected by those who followed Christ.

If a man should gain the whole world, its riches, honors, and pleasures, and lose his life, what would all these profit him, seeing they can only be enjoyed during life? He who is saved from his sin, and united to God, possesses the utmost felicity that the human soul can enjoy, either in this or the coming world: therefore, this salvation is important.

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I went to the state fair this year on a bus. As we traveled toward the main highway that would take us to the fair, we had to take a detour. There was a roadblock. We didn’t know it at the time, but there was a car accident that killed a young man. Sometimes it is necessary for the police to set up a roadblock when there has been an accident or when they are trying to catch a bad guy.

In today’s Bible story, a man became a road block. His name was Peter. Jesus gave him that name because someday he would be like a rock. But not yet. Instead of being rock hard in working for Jesus, Peter became a roadblock. Jesus told the disciples that he was going to the cross, and Peter said: "Never! No way!" He even used God’s name in telling Jesus that he should never go to the cross. But there would be no eternal life for us if Jesus had not gone to the cross. He would not be our Savior if he had not gone to the cross.

So Jesus calls him a name. We shouldn’t call anyone names, but Jesus calls Peter "Satan." That name means "enemy." Peter had to know that he was wrong. He had to change his mind and go in another direction.

So must we. We must follow Jesus here and now if we expect to follow Him into eternal life. Don’t let any roadblocks get in your way. Follow Jesus all the way home.

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Option #2: "God's Lifeline"
Romans 12:1-8
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.
Point: God's sacrifice for us in and through Christ inspires and empowers us to sacrifice ourselves for Him and others.
Problem: The world squeezes us into its mold (conformation), "survival of the fittest" waging war against self-sacrifice, "You give me pleasure" vs. "I love you."
Promise: Through God's self-sacrifice in His Son, Jesus, we stand forgiven, and, through the self-sacrifice of His Spirit, renewed, restored, and hopeful for our future together with him.
1. The denial to which our text calls us is a denial of self-will, but not of life. The cross to which we are called is a theology of the cross that knows the sin that so controls this world and its people but also knows that the cross of Christ has redeemed us from the curse and now puts us into the service of others. (David Wollenburg)
2. Evolutionary teaching’s greatest opponent is not the ability of believers to argue about the fossil record, but rather the universal intuitive acknowledgement that self-sacrifice is noble. The survival of the fittest also does not fit with the Christian truth that the Fittest has sacrificed himself for the sinful, frail, and dying. Yet this self-sacrifice is not only a great power, but it is the power of Christ’s heavenly throne today. We, the members of his kingdom, gain access to his kingdom through his self-sacrifice, and find meaning as citizens of his kingdom by offering our bodies as living sacrifices. (Robert Zagore)
3. In January 1982, people watching TV had the horrifying and gratifying experience of watching a moment of such real life tragedy and heroism that it’s still a living memory for many today. Twenty seconds after an Air Florida flight took off from National Airport in Washington DC, it crashed into the ice-covered Potomac River. The news media is always on hand, covering the comings and goings of important people in Washington, and that day was no different. Immediately, camera crews were at the Rochambeau Bridge on Fourteenth Street, the site of the crash. A live television audience watched transfixed as one passenger, later identified as Arland Williams, reached the rope that a police helicopter dropped to victims in the river. Instead of taking the lifeline himself, he passed it to another survivor nearby. Five times he held the rope in his hand and passed it to other survivors. Before the sixth attempt to save his life could be made, he disappeared beneath the water’s surface. The Rochambeau Bridge has been renamed the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge. It took nearly six months to identify the man the news media had called “the unknown hero.” The nation was moved by his self-sacrifice. For a short period of time even the cynical news media knew they had seen something extraordinary. The man was called a lifeline to both the survivors in the water and the observers on the bridge. (Robert Zagore)

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This page was revised on: Monday, November 13, 2006 10:44:32 AM