************ Sermon on Mark 8:31 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on March 7, 2010
"The Son of Man Must Suffer"
Mark 8:31, Mark 9:31, Mark 10:33. Do you know what they have in common? I had to learn this list of verses in Seminary. I was told they were very important to my understanding of Christ and the Gospel.
Mark 8:31, Mark 9:31, Mark 10:33. What is so important about these three verses? They mark a turning point in what Christ said and taught about Himself as the "Son of Man."
Today, we begin our observance of Lent by looking at Jesus as the "Son of Man."
I The Exalted Son of Man
A Who or what is the Son of Man? This is a title that first appears in Daniel 7. Let me set the scene for you.
Daniel has a vision of four great beasts that emerge from the raging sea, each one different from the one before (Dan 7:3). They emerge not at the same time but one after the other. The four beasts that Daniel sees are a roaring lion (Dan 7:4), a hungry bear (Dan 7:5), a swift leopard (Dan 7:6), and a ferocious animal so horrible in appearance that Daniel does not know what to call it (Dan 7:7-8). In a later verse Daniel tells us that the four beasts are different world empires that make their appearance throughout history (Dan 7:17). Notice, the four world empires are depicted as beasts of prey. Daniel sees them as agents of destruction and death. Their anger and hatred are directed against God (Dan 7:25) and the church (Dan 7:21,25). Daniel makes clear that the nations of this earth are anti-Christ, anti-God, and anti-Christian.
In the face of these beasts, is the church destroyed? Does the name of God suffer unending profanity and indignity? Not at all!
Daniel also has a vision of God. He is called the "Ancient of Days." That means He is old beyond imagining, older than the beginning of times; He has existed before time and will continue to exist after time. So, He is above time and over time and beyond time.
This "Ancient of Day" sits on a throne flaming with fire. A river of fire flows from His throne. A fire of judgment. So, God judges everything, including the beasts and the kingdoms they represent.
Around God's throne are people. Thousands upon thousands attend Him and ten thousand times ten thousand stand before Him.
Do you get the picture? God is over all. He is sovereign. He is almighty.
At this point, Daniel introduces us to a figure described as "one like a son of man" (Dan 7:13). Listen to Daniel's description:
(Dan 7:13-14) In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. (14) He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
What happens to the four beasts? Daniel sees the destruction of the four beast and the kingdoms they represent. Daniel sees their destruction at the hands of the "Son of Man." This figure, I want you to notice, has authority and glory and power. He is exalted and worshiped. Like God, He is over all, He is sovereign, He is almighty.
B In the Gospels, Jesus uses the title "Son of Man" to describe Himself and His work. Never once in the Gospels will you find anyone other than Jesus using this term; it is not a title used by Peter or James or John or any of the other apostles. It was a title used by Jesus alone for Jesus alone.
Why did Jesus use this title? Because Jesus was claiming to be the exalted "Son of Man" we find in Daniel. Someone with authority and glory and power. Someone exalted and worshiped. Someone Who is over all, sovereign, almighty. Someone Who is God.
Now, I want you to notice what Jesus said He could do as the "Son of Man."
(Mk 2:10-11) But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . ." He said to the paralytic, (11) "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home."Do you see what the "Son of Man" can do? He can do what only God can do; He can heal diseases and forgive sins.
Another time, the Pharisees complained to Jesus because His disciples picked some heads of grain on the Sabbath. Remember what Jesus said to them?
(Mk 2:27-28) "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (28) So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."Do you see what the "Son of Man" can do? He has the authority to do what only God can do; He can revise or change what happens on the Sabbath.
Jesus, then, is the "Son of Man." The divine, powerful, sovereign, glorious "Son of Man." Which is why Stephen could say what he said. In his defense before the Sanhedrin, Stephen looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
(Acts 7:56) "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
Again, Jesus is the "Son of Man." The divine, powerful, sovereign, glorious "Son of Man."
II The Suffering Son of Man
A Which brings us to Mark 8:31, Mark 9:31, Mark 10:33. I want you to listen very carefully to what Jesus says about the "Son of Man."
(Mk 8:31) He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.According to Jesus, four things are going to happen to the "Son of Man." He will "suffer many things." He will be rejected. He will be killed. He will rise again.
First, the "Son of Man" will "suffer many things." The Greek word for "suffer" that is used here is used for Jesus alone. It was not used to describe the persecution of the prophets, the fate of John the Baptist, nor the sufferings of the disciples. It was something unique to Christ alone.
So, what was unique about Christ's sufferings? Not the cross – for thousands upon thousands died on the cross. Not death – for millions have been persecuted to death. Not hunger and thirst. Not whipping and scourging. Not mocking. Not rejection. I can go so far as to say that physically many have suffered more than Jesus.
So, what is unique about Christ's sufferings? What is unique is that Jesus suffered at the hand of God! What is unique, as Isaiah 53 puts it, is that Jesus was "stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted" (Is 53:4). Go back to our call to worship this morning. Remember that I read from Psalm 22?
(Ps 22:1) My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?I quoted Psalm 22 but all of you should know that these are the words Jesus cried out after the three awful hours of darkness at midday (Mk 15:34). So, what did Jesus suffer at the hands of God? Jesus suffered separation. Jesus suffered the absence of God. Jesus suffered isolation. Jesus was forsaken by God. That is what was unique to Christ's sufferings.
Second, the "Son of Man" will be "rejected" – by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law. These are the religious leaders and authorities in Israel. They form the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Supreme Court. In their hearts, they judged Jesus to be unworthy. They judged Him to be unworthy of the attention and adoration of the crowds. They judged Him to be unworthy of being the "Son of Man."
Jesus was "rejected" by the Sanhedrin. So, what did they do? Mark tells us they "began looking for a way to kill him" (Mk 11:18). "They looked for a way to arrest him" (Mk 12:12). They "were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him" (Mk 14:1). Their rejection of Jesus was total and absolute. They wanted nothing to do with Him. As Isaiah put it:
(Is 53:3) He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Third, the "Son of Man" will be "killed." His death is no mere accident. Nor will He die in His sleep. The Greek word normally indicates a violent death, a deliberate death, an unjust death.
Fourth, the "Son of Man" after three days will "rise again." Originally, the word for "rise" was used for someone lying down, crouching, sleeping, sick, lame. Jesus, however, has only one meaning in mind – to raise from the dead or from the grave. In other words, a resurrection.
B Jesus, then, announces four things that will happen to the "Son of Man": suffering, rejection, death, resurrection. In the Greek, these four verbs are infinitives. Infinitives do not stand on their own. They always depend on a main verb. I want you to take note of the main verb: "it is necessary." Our pew Bibles translate this as "must."
It is necessary that the "Son of Man ... suffer many things." It is necessary that the "Son of Man ... be rejected." It is necessary that the "Son of Man ... be killed." It is necessary that the "Son of Man ... rise again." All of this is necessary. This must happen. There are no ifs, buts, or maybes here. It is a must, a divine must.
Why must this happen? Isaiah tells us why. Listen to what he says:
(Is 53:4-6) Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. (5) But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (6) We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Why must this happen? This must happen because it is part of the plan. God's plan. God's eternal plan. God's eternal plan to save us from our sins. A plan already announced in the Garden of Eden. A plan further revealed in the ceremonies and symbols of the Law. A plan spoken of by Isaiah and the prophets. A plan fulfilled in Christ.
III The Problem Son of Man
A Don't forget whom we are talking about. We are talking about the "Son of Man." The divine, powerful, sovereign, glorious "Son of Man."
I already noted with you Jesus' rejection by the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin knew the "Son of Man" to be divine, powerful, sovereign, glorious. Therefore, He was not a carpenter from Nazareth. To their way of thinking, He could not be a man named Jesus. So they rejected Jesus and the claims of Jesus.
B But now I want to ask: "Is Peter any better?" Take a look at what Peter did after Jesus announced what must happen to the Son of Man: "Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him" (Mk 8:32). Peter denounced what Jesus said and expressed strong disapproval. I think Peter's problem was the same as the Pharisees, but expressed in a different way. Peter, like the Sanhedrin, knew the "Son of Man" to be divine, powerful, sovereign, glorious. Therefore, it was not possible that someone so glorious suffer, be rejected, be killed, and rise again.
Notice Jesus' response. Jesus turned and looked at His disciples. Jesus included all His disciples and not just Peter in what He was about to say. We can only conclude that Peter was verbalizing what all the disciples were thinking. So, Jesus rebuked Peter and the disciples:
(Mk 8:33) "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
Jesus said Peter was an unwitting tool for Satan. Think of the wilderness temptations (Mt 4:1-11; cf Mk 1:12-13). Do you know what Satan wanted Jesus to do? Satan wanted Jesus to be the "Son of Man" without the way of the cross. Satan wanted Jesus to have His crown and His glory, His power and His authority, without suffering, without rejection, without killing, without rising. And now Peter wants the same thing.
Jesus is the divine, powerful, sovereign, glorious "Son of Man" who must suffer, be rejected, be killed, and rise again. So, "Get behind me, Satan!"
C When we think about it, we realize Jesus says this to everyone. He says this to Peter: "Get behind me, Peter!" He says this to James and John: "Get behind me!" He says this to Judas and Thomas: "Get behind me!" He says this to you and me: "Get behind me!" Jesus says this to everyone: "Get behind me!"
"Get behind me!" What does this mean? It is a call to discipleship. The proper position of a disciple is "behind" his master. A disciple is one who follows. So, what is Jesus doing? Jesus is calling Peter – and you and me – to follow Him. Jesus is the Master. Peter is the follower. We need to see this in conjunction with the very next words out of Jesus' mouth: "If anyone would come after me ..." (Mk 8:34). Or, to put it another way, "If anyone would follow me ..." You can only follow Jesus, of course, if He is in front and if you are behind.
It should not surprise us, then, that our passage ends with the marks of a disciple. Jesus makes four statements that all start with the same Greek word. For our purposes, I want to take note only of the fourth one:
(Mk 8:38) "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."
The Sanhedrin was ashamed of Jesus and His words so they rejected Jesus as the Son of Man. Peter was ashamed of Jesus and His words so Peter admonished Jesus.
So, what have learned as we begin our observance of Lent? We have learned that Jesus is the divine, powerful, sovereign, glorious "Son of Man" Who must suffer, be rejected, be killed, and rise again.
Now, what is your response to this Jesus? Do you reject Him like the Pharisees? Do you admonish Him like Peter? Or, do you – by grace – get behind Him and follow Him as His disciple?
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