Good News Bad News

     The good news as Jesus journeys towards Jerusalem He reveals more and more about his identity,       his mission, and the divine design for the redemption of all creation that God is bringing to                 fruition.  The bad news as He journeys towards Jerusalem He speaks of suffering, rejection,                 crucifixion, and death—hardly a triumphal message or the expected role of the long-awaited               Messiah. Lent is a long forty days of good news/bad news messages.

Good News Bad News

I went to my doctor a couple of months ago because I wasn't feeling too well. After examining me, the doctor took every sample known to medical science, including x rays, cat scans MRI eegs, ekgs, bvds, and asks me to come back the following week for the results.

On the return visit the doc asks me, "Well, I have some good news and some bad news. What do you want to hear first?"

I said "Let me know the good news first."

"Okay," says the doctor, "they're going to name the disease after you."

How many of you find those good news bad news jokes entertaining?

“The good news is the state just raised the minimum wage. The bad news is we’re letting you go to absorb the extra cost.”

Pastors get good news bad news all the time.  Good news Pastor, the church board just voted to give you an all expense paid trip to the holy land. Bad news is they are waiting until the next middle east war breaks out.

Have you ever wondered if you were an optimist or a pessimist? Guess what? Those good news bad news jokes are one of the most scientific tools that categorizes you and labels you as either one or the other. What do you say when someone confronts you with the old: “Which do you want first, the good news or the bad news?” An optimist asks for the good news, figuring that they will cope with the bad news in the beam of light cast by the “good news.” A pessimist will opt for hearing the bad news first, figuring that perhaps eventually they can water down the bile of that badness with a little good news nectar later.

On February 14 Valentinus’s Day and Ash Wednesday collided, to start our Lenten Season. The Lenten Season, is the 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter, it is a time in the life of the disciple for prayer, fasting and advocacy. During the Lenten season there is to be a personal emphasis on doing for the least.

I don’t want this to sound sarcastic or worse sacrilegious but there’s a good news bad news joke that runs through the entire Lenten Season. The good news as Jesus journeys towards Jerusalem He reveals more and more about his identity, his mission, and the divine design for the redemption of all creation that God is bringing to fruition. The bad news as He journeys towards Jerusalem He speaks of suffering, rejection, crucifixion, and death—hardly a triumphal message or the expected role of the long-awaited Messiah. Lent is a long forty days of good news/bad news messages.

Hey disciple, want to hear the good news or the bad news about Jesus going to Jerusalem? The good news on Sunday the people are going to hail him as Messiah, the bad news t on Friday they’re going to Crucify Him as a criminal.  Unlike those typical good news bad news jokes, the Lenton Season good news bad news, isn’t all that funny. In fact, despite the irony, its deadly serious.

If you receive the bad news and the experience of the bad news with an eye on the good news you will find yourself turning into a fully devoted follower of Jesus, the real deal disciple, someone whom God looks good on.  Today we’re going to explore the news and see if a bite of reality doesn’t help us on our spiritual journey.

Mark 8:27-37 (MSG)
Jesus and his disciples headed out for the villages around Caesarea Philippi. As they walked, he asked, "Who do the people say I am?"
"Some say 'John the Baptizer,' " they said. "Others say 'Elijah.' Still others say 'one of the prophets.' "
He then asked, "And you—what are you saying about me? Who am I?"
Peter gave the answer: "You are the Christ, the Messiah."

Jesus warned them to keep it quiet, not to breathe a word of it to anyone. 31 He then began explaining things to them: "It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the elders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and after three days rise up alive." He said this simply and clearly, so they couldn't miss it.

But Peter grabbed Him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. "Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost! You have no idea how God works."

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. 36 What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

Good news bad news—I am the son of God, the Messiah, and the elders and priests and the rabbi’s the scholars are going to kill me.

Peter’s declaration is the ultimate “good news.” The long awaited, much anticipated redeemer of Israel, the Messiah, has at last come into their midst. Crushed under Roman rule, threatened with the disintegration of any sense of a national identity, the arrival of the Messiah could not have come at a more crucial moment in Israel’s history. The Messiah surely would lead the people of Israel and defeat and rout the Roman presence in the promised land. The Messiah would bring glory and power back to the Jewish kingdom. The Messiah would prove that Israel was God’s chosen people, favored above all others.

Then Jesus responded to Peter’s proclamation with the most anti-messianic message imaginable. He asserted his rejection by the most esteemed Jewish authority figures and institutions. He predicted his death at the hands of hated Roman rulers. And then that cryptic claim to “rise again” after three days —to what end, for what purpose? This wasn’t a messianic message, this was just plain old bad news!
Then Peter tells Jesus “no”—that’s not how the story goes. It’s happily ever after, its power and prosperity, health and long life, prestige and homage.  That earns Peter a strong rebuke, Jesus tells Peter that he has his mind set not on divine things but on human things.”

Peter imagined the Messiah to be a princely, triumphant, worldly warrior, he no doubt imagined that being the Messiah’s specially chosen first follower put him in pretty good standing. By confessing Jesus as the Messiah, Peter’s future looked so bright, if he had sunglasses he would have worn them.

I have been caught up in Peter’s trap. Say yes to the good news but then no to the bad news. The good news of following Jesus, sins forgiven, reconciliation with God, heaven awaits, power in the present to overcome, God’s good plan for your life. God’s protection and provision. Living your life to the full. The idea that if I become a follower of Jesus that everything will come up roses, the ship will sail in, healthy wealthy and wise with a great insurance policy. Who wouldn’t say yes to that kind of guarantee?

So like Peter considering the good news I see the benefits of committing to following Jesus. I think I have it all figured out; I think only good things will come my way because I am a beloved child of God. I think we know the mind of God.

I put God in that proverbial box where God seems safe. By doing that I unconsciously think I get to control God, that God will do my bidding. God will do what I think He should. So much so that like Peter when God moves towards something I don’t like, I can tell Him that He’s wrong.

The bad news of the Lenten season, well its bad news because it confronts the Peter Trap, is that Jesus tells me “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it… Self-sacrifice is the way.”

If any want to become my followers, deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it and those who lose their life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, will save it (vv.34-35).

The way of discipleship is not a royal road to glory. It is a dirt path to Jerusalem. The dirt road, not the royal road, is the path taken by followers of the One who is God’s chosen, the Messiah, the Way, The Truth, The Life. To the world this Way may seem wayward, a journey towards suffering and sacrifice. When your inundated with just the Good news of the Lenten season you think the spiritual life, the life of a disciple is like the burger king slogan—"Have it your way.” Emptying self instead of filling yourself full seems nuts. But for true disciples, for those who follow the one who is The Way, it is a road that leads to the glory of God and the gift of life itself.

Good news: In Jesus there is salvation. Bad news: Salvation includes self-denial, rejection and  suffering. But then right back to good news: Salvation leads to glory

The Apostle Paul reminds us:
2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (MSG)
Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us.

The Apostle Peter reminds us:
1 Peter 4:12-13 (MSG)
Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.

The Apostle James reminds us:
James 1:2-4 (MSG)
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Good news—on the road to Jerusalem the intimacy in your relationship with Jesus grows as you allow The Way the Truth and the Life to penetrate to the core of your very being.

Bad News—on the road to Jerusalem you will experience self-denial on the inside, and persecution from the outside. It’s a narrow and hard road that leads through places you most likely do not want to visit.

Good news—the road to Jerusalem is the road of love. It’s on this road that you learn to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.
It’s on this road that you learn to love your neighbor as yourself. It’s on this road that you do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matthew 7:12 NCV, Luke 6:31). It’s on this road that you learn to do for others what Jesus has done for you.

Jesus is calling us to lay down some things so that others can pick up the good news of who Jesus is. Following Jesus is costly. Lent is a good news/bad news season. Jesus is the good news. The bad news is that we are all being called to lay down some things during Lent so that others can pick up the good news. It's by our actions of love that others are attracted to Jesus. The bad news is that you may have some unwanted and expected paths you will walk, you will be lead to do things that you probably would rather not, and you will most likely have to let go of something you enjoy, even love, to love God, others, and yourself.  

Good news Jesus said follow me to life eternal. Bad news it’s costly.

We are to do unto others, to love others, as Christ has loved us. And how has he loved us? He laid down his life so that we could pick up the good news of salvation.   That’s what we need to do for others. Avoid the trap Peter fell into thinking that your way is better than God’s way.


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