Feb 25th, 2024 Second Sunday in Lent Mark 8:27,29 “Jesus, The Exclusive Savior”

We live in a “postmodern” age. If that term is new to you, it simply means that we live in an age in which our culture has largely abandoned the notion of truth. One hundred years ago most Americans shared a common moral code based to a large degree on the teachings of the Bible. Even people who were not Christian made their moral judgments based largely on what we today call the “Judeo-Christian” tradition.

There was a large consensus that certain things were right and others wrong, that some things were permitted in society and others were not. That shared consensus gave enormous stability to the culture and allowed people from diverse backgrounds to live together in peace. That consensus has almost entirely disappeared, which is why Americans can’t decide how they feel about abortion, pornography, adultery, divorce, and many other issues facing society today. In the old days we didn’t debate those issues because our shared value system taught us that many things tolerated today were not even debated years ago. Our constitution grants us freedom of speech, to speak our mind. That too us now under assault. Things have changed.

If the old Trinity was Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the new trinity is tolerance, diversity, and pluralism. “All truth is relative.”

Jesus and His disciples were at Caesarea Philippi. Caesarea was a place of pagan worship, where many different pagan temples offered options. Their ministry to this point had been a stunning success. Crowds pressed in on them everywhere they went. Strange rumors had swirled about Jesus ever since the prophet wearing camels hair clothing, John the Baptist said: Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Some thought Jesus might be a king. That’s what many thought after Jesus fed the 5000. (John 6) He taught the crowds with mysterious parables. He healed the sick. He annoyed the religious authorities. This is why Jesus put the question to his disciples. "Who do people say that I am?" Various answers were given. Simon Peter answered enthusiastically, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" It was one of the most dramatic moments in the disciples' pilgrimage with Jesus.

Then Jesus changed the subject. He began to tell them that the crowds would soon turn against Him; He would be crucified. On the third day he would be raised. The disciples didn't know what to make of His words. Simon Peter took Jesus aside: "Forbid it Lord that these things should happen to you." Jesus rebuked Peter in strong language. The words are as harsh as any words in the New Testament: "Get behind me Satan! You are not on the side of God but of man."

Simon Peter probably regretted trying to correct Jesus. He had no idea that he was being deceived by Satan….who was trying to stop Jesus from going to Jerusalem. Peter was reacting because…..Peter did not understand God’s plan.

After Jesus had ascended into Heaven this same Peter, along with John continued to visit the temple. On one of their visits, they healed a man on the steps of the temple who was crippled. The Jewish authorities arrested them because they said the man was healed by the power of the crucified and risen Jesus. Standing on trial before the same High Priest, Caiaphas and his ruling family, that sent Jesus to Pilate, Peter no longer afraid, makes a bold statement: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved”. (Acts 4:12)

Jesus Himself said: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) The author of the Book of Hebrews writes: “Jesus Christ was sacrificed once (on the cross) to take away the (broken commandments) sins of many people and He will appear a second time not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for “His return. (Hebrew 9:27,28)

These are utterly exclusive statements of the New Testament. We have no right to water them down. You may choose to reject them, or to call them “narrow-minded” or to pass them off as not applying to us today, but the fact remains that the Jesus of the Bible is an utterly exclusive Savior.

When Christ died on the Cross, he completed the work of salvation. That’s why he cried out “It Is Finished” (John 19:30). When Jesus had paid the full price for our salvation, He cried “It is finished” because the work of salvation was complete. By his death absorbed the wrath of God against sin.

Saving faith is nothing less than total reliance on Christ alone, wholly apart from human works or human effort of any kind. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Of all the disciples only Peter voiced the correct answer to Jesus’ question that day on the mountain: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16). To this day there are still many opinions about who Jesus really is. Some think He is just a good man, others a great teacher, still others an historical figure. Some call him a mystic, others a sage, others a peasant rabbi. The Bible calls him the Son of God. Each person must answer for himself.

Jesus lived a perfect life, denouncing sin and renouncing Satan’s power and work. Just as Jesus had told Peter, He was arrested in Jerusalem. He was unjustly tried, unfairly condemned, and sent to die on a Roman cross. The cross, which some consider to be foolishness, is where God chose to nail the broken commandments of every believer. On the cross, Jesus took the wrath of God against our broken commandments…It was the only way God could see each person as unblemished, and free from accusation. His death and resurrection was for all humanity. The theological term is “objective justification.”

When any human being come to the cross and asks for forgiveness, the result is that peace and harmony is restored with our God. The theological term is “subjective justification.” That is what Paul concludes: This promise of forgiveness and eternal life is your possession “if” you continue in your faith, trusting in Jesus as your exclusive Savior.