An Alternative Way of Doing Life

Ruins of the Temple of Pan near Caesarea Philippi (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Public Reading: Luke 9:18-27

The Story

•    Jesus takes this disciples to the region Caesarea Philippi

o    Gentile city 26 miles north of Capernaum
o    It was an administrative city with various government functions
o    The city of Caesarea Philippi was built on top of an enormous rock 100 feet straight up and about 500 feet wide

*    It was enlarged and rededicated by King Philip to honor the Caesar in Rome.
*    Caesar considered himself a god and King Philip was eager to please him.

o    On the edge of the city was a cave out of which a flowed a spring

*    The spring feed the Jordan River

o    temple to Pan build on the edge of this cave

*    god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music, and companion of the nymphs.
*    He has the hindquarters, legs, and horns of a goat, in the same manner as a faun or satyr.

o    The area as called the “gates of hell” as the ancient Greeks and Romans thought that underground rivers lead to hell or hades

•    Who is Jesus?

o    While in view of this huge moment to the gods of Caesar and Pan, Jesus asks the disciples who the crowds thought he was

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.” -Luke 9:19

o    Then he asked who they thought he was

Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” – Luke 9:20b

•   The danger of such a statement

o    Rome’s rule was an iron rule build upon fear and force

*    They did not like it when folks tried to rebel against them
*    Or preach / teach that someone or some god was bigger than their gods

o    The Greek word for “Christ” is ‘Khristós” meaning “anointed”

*    The same is true of the name “augustus” which was given to Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus
*    It was then used of all Roman Emperors

o    Therefore to say that Jesus was the “Christ” was to say that you were rebelling against the Roman Empire

*    This was a death sentence is over heard
*    Perhaps this is why Jesus told them to keep quiet

•    There were in Gentile country after all

*    Granted, Jesus did tell them that he would die for being the Anointed One or Christ

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” –Luke 9:22

o    In spite of this very real danger, Jesus basically tells his followers – and us – that He is the true “Anointed One” who is the true Ruler of Heaven and Earth

•    This has profound implications for us today – especially considering that it is an election year

o    We have to decide who we think Jesus is

*    A good man?
*    A teacher?
*    A government rebel?
*    Who is He?

o    Once we decided who he is, we are going to have to decided what to do with his teaching…

*    Was it only for the people of the 1st century?
*    It is good ethical advice?
*    Is it impractical? Only to be lived in the coming age after Jesus returns?
*    Are we just supposed to believe it?
*    Does this teaching have any bearing on our life today’s?

•    Two Ages with two kingdoms at war

o    Two ages

*    This one – full of sin, evil, injustice and pain
*    The coming one – full of mercy, justice, healing, forgiveness, and love

o    Two kingdoms

*    The kingdom of darkness ruled by satan and fear
*    The kingdom of God ruled by Creator of Heaven and Earth

•    Power Over vs Power Under

o    Kingdom of this age is one of ‘power over’

*    Rules through the ability to coerce behavior by threats and to punish those who break it’s law
*    They rule by trying to influence how people think and feel

•    Rome was such a power over kingdom

•    As is American and all its political parties

*    Yet this kind of kingdom, no matter how good or bad, can only control behavior

•    They cannot change hearts

o    The Kingdom of God is one of ‘power under’

*    The example of Jesus is one of serving others

•    A way of interacting with others with their best interests in mind – Phil 2:1-5, 1 Corn 10:34
•    Voluntarily bear others burdens – Gal 6:2
•    Outdo one another in showing honor –Rom. 12:10
•    Feed the hungry – James 2:15-17, 1 John 3:14-18, Matthew 25:34-40
•    Clothe the naked – James 2:15-17, 1 John 3:14-18, Matthew 25:34-40
•    Take in the homeless – Matthew 25:34-40
•    Befriend the friendless – Matthew 25:34-40
•    Love and bless our enemies – Luke 6:27-36

*    We do this not out of duty to some abstract ethic

•    But because the kingdom life of Jesus is pumping through our veins!!
•    we are part of a revolutionary kingdom started by Jesus

o    It is a kingdom that looks like Jesus, a kingdom in which

*    The greatest is the one who serves others  – Mt 20:26, Lk 20:26-27
*    The exalted with the humbled, but the humbled will be exalted – Lk. 14:11; 18:14
*    We are blessed when divested of power – when one is ‘poor in spirit’, ‘mourns’, is ‘meek’ and ‘persecuted’ – Mt. 5:3-5, 10-11
*    The kingdom of this world is mostly concerned about what people do

•    God’s Kingdom is concerned with how people are and what they can become

*    The kingdom of this world is one of judgment

•    The kingdom of God is one of outrageous and even scandalous grace!

•    Make no mistake, Jesus did not come to offer another variation of this world’s kingdom

o    He was not telling us that one way of living, one type of lifestyle, one political party or one form of government was better or worse than the other

•   Jesus came to usher in a completely distinct, alternative way of doing life!!!!

o    While we have touched a this a bit, I want to conclude with summarizing and contrasting the two ages/kingdoms under five headings

1)    A Contrast of Trust

•    Kingdom of this world

o    Trusts the power of the sword
o    Advances by exercising power over people

•    Kingdom of God

o    Trusts the power of the cross
o    Advances by serving others (‘power under’)

2)    A Contrast of Aims

•    Kingdom of this world

o    Seeks to control behavior
o    Rooted in preserving and advancing one’s self-interests and own will

•    Kingdom of God

o    Seeks to transforms lives from the inside out
o    Centered exclusively on carrying out God’s will, even if it requires sacrificing one’s own interests

3)    A Contrast of Scopes

•    Kingdom of this world

o    Tribal in nature – heavily investing in defending and advancing one’s own people-group, nation, ethnicity, state, religion, ideologies, or political agendas
o    Full of conflict

•    Kingdom of God

o    Intrinsically universal – centered on simply loving as God loves
o    Transcends tribal and nationalistic parameters by loving all people at all times in all places WITHOUT conditions

4)   A Contrast of Responses

•    Kingdom of this world

o    Tit-for-tat – ‘eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth’

•    Kingdom of God

o    Returns evil with good, turning the other cheek and loving and praying for one’s enemies

5)    A Contrast of Battles

•    Kingdom of this world

o    Earthly enemies and earthly battles (political, national, individual)

•    Kingdom of God

o    No earthly enemies for its disciples are to love their enemies and treat them as friends and neighbors
o    The real enemy is the rulers of darkness – satan, evil, death, sickness, sin, pain, injustice

•    This is the message Jesus told his disciples:

23 Then he [Jesus] said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. -Luke 9:23-26

** Additional Source: Five contrast themes as well as some of the other concepts were pulled from Greg Boyd’s “The Myth of a Christian Nation” (first two chapters)**

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