“What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world yet forfeits his soul?”
A small businessman who emigrated to the U.S. from another country, kept his accounts payable in a cigar box, his accounts receivable on a spindle, and his cash in the cash register. His son, who had just graduated from a business college said, "Pop, I don't see how you can run your business this way." "How do you know what your profits are?" "Son", he replied, "when I got off the boat, I had only 36 cents and the pants I was wearing. Today your sister is an art teacher, your brother is a doctor, and you’re an accountant. I have a car, a house, and a good business. Everything is paid for. "Just add it all up, subtract 36 cents and the pants, and there's your profit."
If it were only that simple.
Jesus asked His disciples, “who do people say that I am?” And they replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets. But then He asked the zillion dollar question. “Who do you say I am?” And Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”
But it quickly becomes obvious that Jesus counts profit and loss differently than we do. “He 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.”
Peter’s a savvy businessman and feels the need to instruct Jesus. Actually, he “rebukes Him.” The word in the Greek is, “epitimao.” The root of “epitimao” is “timay” which is a word that comes from the world of finance. “Timay” is the value or the price that is set for something. “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the “timay” the price of him on whom a “timay” a price had been set…” (Mat.27:9)
To ‘REBUKE’ is to publicly declare that the price that’s been set is TOO HIGH. When Peter “rebuked Jesus” he wants to ‘devalue’ the price that Jesus has set for being THE CHRIST. He tells Jesus that the cost is just too high.
In the Old Testament, the Prophets have to REBUKE the people of God, telling them that they’ve set the wrong price on the false gods. They’ve over-valued them. The prophet’s REBUKE tells them that their idols are actually worthless.
In the gospels, Jesus REBUKES the demons and the wind and waves that have overestimated their power against Him.
On several occasions, Jesus REBUKES His disciples.
• When they want to call fire down from heaven to fry the Samaritans He REBUKED THEM.
• When they try to forbid parents from bringing their little children to Him for a blessing, He REBUKED THEM.
• The thief crucified next to Jesus REBUKED his fellow thief crucified on the other side for UNDERVALUING Jesus. “Don’t you fear God?” he asks.
But our gospel today, which is also reported by Matthew and Luke, is the only time in the NEW TESTAMENT where anyone ever REBUKES Jesus. What Peter does here is unprecedented in the Scriptures – but quite common among us really.
Jesus hears the devil’s voice coming out of Peter’s mouth just as it spoke through the serpent in the Garden of Eden. And this second Adam did what the first Adam failed to do. “Turning and seeing his disciples, he REBUKED Peter and said, ‘Get behind me Satan. You are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’”
Peter has ‘overvalued’ the “things of man” and drastically ‘undervalued’ the “things of God.”
The “things of God” are not priced the way the “things of man” are. “Having in mind the things of man” we weigh something ‘worth’ or ‘value’ and that determines how much we’re willing to pay for it. And if we later discover that it’s really not worth what we paid, we REBUKE the merchant who overcharged us, or we REBUKE ourselves for being so stupid.
But “having in mind the things of God,” we’re struck by the fact that this is not how things work at all.
• God sees what is utterly worthless and He pays the highest price for it – and then delights in calling it ‘HIS.’
• God sees what is rotten and corrupt and useless – and He “spends all that He has in order to acquire it.”
• God sees the poor and the widow and the homeless and blind and the diseased and the outcast and the lowly – whom this world declares to be ‘worthless,’ but that He declares, “they are precious in my sight.”
• God sees ‘enemies’ who want to kill Him – AND DO – and sheds His blood for them and reconciles them, and says, “you are my friends.”
• God sees that which is dead, and what is more worthless that that which is dead – and He pays the price to ransom them even from the grave. Continue reading