Matthew 16:21-24 – THE COST OF SAYING GOODBYE

Posted: January 5, 2014 in Matthew, Matthew 16, New Year
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Matthew 16:21-24 – THE COST OF SAYING GOODBYE

The Cost of Saying Goodbye

The Cost of Saying Goodbye

I move close to his right ear. “Gidday Dad. It’s Ross. I know you are going through a tough time. We love you. You have had a stroke and we are here to pray for you.” My father-in-law breathes out a rasping “Thanks”. … then, all too soon, at 84, he is gone.

The numbing shock of his funeral is now over and his memory leaves ineffaceable marks, raw but beautiful on our hearts. So soon, and now the morning saps strength from my lovely wife as she is confronted with her loss afresh in the waking moments.

This morning I read Matthew 16:21 (NLT) “From then on Jesus began to tell His disciples plainly that it was necessary for Him to go to Jerusalem, and that He would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day He would be raised from the dead.”  

I am reminded that God is intimately acquainted with our grief; the gravity of death and sorrow. Jesus has spoken of his death before. Now in the light of Peter’s confession; “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, He says it more plainly. No more parables, pictures and symbols, just simple, direct words that cut to the core and whisper grief into the air. Peter’s confession of faith marks a tipping point in history that now inexorably hurtles Jesus towards the horror of the Cross. Everything within us opposes such utterances of loss. The cost of commitment on our hearts is too deep, even in the light of the resurrection.

So it is not surprising in Matthew 16:22 (NLT) when “Peter takes Jesus aside and begins to reprimand Him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,”He says. “This will never happen to You!” 

It is not an unusual response of the human heart, but it is not accurate and not at all helpful. Rebellion and denial rise up in us when faced with the death of those we love. Peter has just been commended by Jesus for hearing from God. He is given the Keys to the Kingdom but in a wave of grief he now seeks to lock the doors of heaven’s will from the earth. The rock becomes a stumbling stone.

“Jesus turns to Peter and says, “Get away from Me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to Me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (Matthew 16:23 NLT). No longer is he blessed as one who has heard from God, but rebuked as one who he has spoken blasphemy in denying the reality and inevitability of the Cross.

Peter is desperately urging Jesus to bypass the Cross. How tempting for Christ to compromise rather than be committed. Jesus had heard such temptation in a wilderness 3 years earlier and recognised the voice of Satan (Matthew 4:1-11). Satan it seems also sees things from a human perspective. God’s perspective was for Jesus to suffer and die for our sins, not avoid the Cross for a crown? To be an adversary to the Cross is to be an adversary to God. The way to God is through surrender not through selfish presumption. To war against Satan is to take up the Cross, not refuse it. “… Jesus says to His disciples, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24 NLT). 

In a hospital room Jesus is not distant even though we don’t want to think about suffering or death. He insists that things must flow from heavens point of view not ours. We may not always understand the “Why’s” but we are called to hear God’s voice and trust in Him.

When death is thrust upon us there is no choice but to accept it, but when death is planned and deliberate and willed by God Himself through all eternity, we stand in awefilled disbelief. Yet 1 Peter 3:18 (NLT) says “Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but He was raised to life in the Spirit. “

Jesus does not burden us with more than we can endure or with anything that He has not borne Himself. The joy and hope of spending eternity with Christ encourages us to bear the barren heartache of seeing someone we love die. We prefer another way but there is no other door but death to lead those with faith in Christ to the Father’s throne. There is no other invitation so important as the one Christ gives to turn from our selfish ways, take up the Cross and follow Him.

Reluctantly at the service we release into the hands of God Colin Malcolm Shedden, Dad, Pa, Great Pa, a man after God’s own heart. David Brainwood plays so beautifully the hymns of faith as we recoil at the cost of grief. His father Rev. Ernest Brainwood the evangelist, long ago, led Colin to the Cross. Now the music of the Son echoes in the corridors of heaven to accompany Colin safely home.

Pastor Ross

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Comments
  1. Yvonne Kilah says:

    Thanks for that Ross. Have been thinking of you both a lot and praying for you. I know how precious Julie’s dad was to you both. Praying God will be your comfort at this very hard time. Love you both. Yvonne & Kenn xx

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  2. Jenny Blok says:

    Hi Ross

    Thank you so much for this post.

    I read it at 4am this morning. You wonder why 4am? I had just said my goodbyes to Renee as she had a flight back to Tokyo at 6am.

    I don’t normally look at my emails at that time either but was “led” to have a peek. You can imagine my reaction when I saw, in the midst of tears, the heading, “The cost of saying goodbye.”

    The message spoke very strongly to me and once again be able to see “ that things must flow from heavens point of view not ours. We may not always understand the “Why’s” but we are called to hear God’s voice and trust in Him.”

    This phrase spoke very strongly to me – “He is given the Keys to the Kingdom but in a wave of grief he now seeks to lock the doors of heaven’s will from the earth. The rock becomes a stumbling stone.”

    Bless you Ross

    Jenny

    Jenny Blok

    Sydney Chaplaincy Manager for RAC/RV

    Chaplain for Morven Gardens
    5-19 Morven Rd, Leura T 0466 225 033
    ………………………………………………………………………………………
    Baptist Community Services – NSW & ACT (BCS)
    http://www.bcs.org.au
    ………………………………………………………..
    Get involved. Make a Difference. Change a life. Volunteer with BCS today.
    P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail. Think. Green. Do.

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    • pastorross12 says:

      Always a tough call to say goodbye. Praying for you now. I am sure you had a wonderful Christmas and new year with Renee. How great to have her with you over the Christmas period. God bless you, Jenny.

      Like

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