Do You Mind?
"Do you mind?" is usually an expression of disgust or another way of saying, "Pardon me" as a question expecting a yes' answer. We all use the expression, but this text asks it in a different way. Do you mind?
Of course you do. You're always minding something. You can't mind nothing. No matter when somebody asks, "What's on your mind?" We can't answer nothing. O there are Eastern religions that are said to train a person to empty their mind. But that's the point; they're minding something. The nothing they are allegedly thinking is something. I can say they are said to' because Jesus Himself makes it an either or. He rebukes Peter for minding (phroneo) the things of men rather than the things of God. Paul also says there are only 2 options. Everyone is minding one or the other. "For those who are according to the flesh mind (phroneo) the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mindset (phronema) of the flesh is death, but the mindset (phronema) of the Spirit is life and peace" (Rom. 8:5-6). Paul uses the same verb Jesus does and says you mind either the things of the flesh or the Spirit. Paul goes on to use the noun from this verb, mindset (phronema). Again there are only two mindsets: life/peace and Death.
So which is it? O come on! What right thinking person would say, "I'll mind the things of men, which our text shows can be Satanic, and always is the mindset of Death"? Do you think Peter who took Jesus aside personally, tenderly to assure Him as Matthew records, that the suffering, rejecting, killing and also therefore rising "shall never happen to you" thought he was minding the things of men let alone the things of Satan? But Jesus says he was. So how come you're so sure that you don't have the mindset of men, flesh, Satan, and death? Let me test you.
Do you have an every man for himself attitude? Jesus shows this is the mindset the satanic Peter had by telling the crowd it reflected a "whoever wants to save his life" attitude. The Word for life' here can be translated soul, life, self. Since self-esteem, self-confidence, self-regard, self-respect are the gold-standard of mental, emotional, and spiritual health in the 21st century, which no well-adjusted, sane person questions, let's translate self'. If you, have an every man for himself attitude, self-preservation is your prime directive, life revolves around what you think, do, and say, then your mindset is of men, of flesh, of Satan, of Death.
Next test question: Let's, for easy recall, call it the Charlie Daniel's test. Recall, Johnny, even though he knows "it might be a sin" takes the Devil's bet and wagers his soul that he is a better fiddle player. O come on! Who would, who could, bet their own soul? Lots of people. Most people. Jesus says people risk, wager, bet their soul to gain something in the world. Now again the word soul is the soul, life, self, Greek word. And Jesus doesn't tell you what the bet is only that even if you win, you lose. Even if you could gain the world at the price of losing your soul, would it be worth it? And be clear on this only Jesus in the Great Temptation was offered the whole world in exchange for His soul. Fallen men are offered much less: a few moments sensual pleasure, "A Few Dollars More", 15 minutes of fame. Many like Faust take the bet and lose not just self but another.
Though cheaply lost, what can you give, pay, forfeit to get back your soul? The great stories about guilt Crime and Punishment, Barabbas, Macbeth tell the tale. Adam, Jacob, David, Judas are the Biblical examples. They know they've wagered and lost their soul for a pleasure that turned to poison and they don't see any way of getting it back. And they're right. When hell freezes over that's when they will be able to buy back their soul. That's our expression. Jesus' own is when a camel passes through the eye of a needle, that's when the Raskolnikov's, the Barabbas's, the Macbeth's, the Adam's, Jacob's, David's, and Judas's can be redeemed. Till then they endlessly wash their hands, despair of mercy, and guilt is their worm that never dies that Jesus says the damned in hell die forever with.
Do you mind? Of course you do. But are you minding the things of people or God, of Death or Life, of self or peace? The third test: Are you ashamed of Jesus? Of course, not. He's my Savior, Physician, Redeemer, and Friend. I'm just ashamed of some of His Words. Oops. Jesus says, "If anyone is ashamed of Me and My Wordsthe Son of Man will be ashamed of him." Don't think one out of two ain't bad. Don't think as long as I'm not ashamed of both Jesus and His word, I'm good. Let me reproduce the Greek: "Whoever should be ashamed of Me (no emphasis), that is of the Word of ME (emphatic) the Son of Man will be ashamed of him." Notice Jesus doesn't say "words" plural, but Word singular. All Jesus' Words go together. You can confess Jesus in all the points He has revealed Himself in Scripture but one, and you're ashamed of the whole Jesus.
Let me give you some of the Word of Jesus that is popular to be ashamed of. I know because I've blushed over them all. A Six Day Creation: Ex. 20:11 says, "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth,." God's Order of Creation: I Cor. 11:3 says, "But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God." Life in the womb is a person. Ps. 51:5 says, "in sin my mother conceived me." Only a person can be sinner. Ps. 139:15 says, life in the womb is "woven together" by God. You think He's knitting together a non-person? In Jer. 1:15 the Lord says, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;" Think He set apart a potential person to be something one day? Of course, in context the Word Peter was ashamed of was about the meekly suffering, churchly rejected, and officially killed Jesus.
Don't tell me that's not us. It's easier to speak of God this and God that, then of the God who is Man hanging dead on a cross. It's easier to preach Christ and Him risen then with Paul Christ and Him crucified. And it's easier to tell people of the miracles big and small, always observable, that God does, then glorying in Water that rescues you from Death and the Devil. It's easy to speak of feeling forgiven; it's hard to speak of your forgiveness being located in the mouth of a man. It's easier to speak of a risen and glorified Jesus reigning and ruling in heaven, than to point to Bread and Wine and say, "Look right there on that altar to be eaten and drank is the Body and Blood of my God and Savior who reigns over all."
Today is Reminiscere Sunday, so named for the first word in the Introit "remember". "Memory can often be the first step back. In the distant country, the prodigal son suddenly remembered his home." O. Henry has a short story where a boy leaves his village and becomes a pickpocket. One day in the big city, after stealing, he sees the girl he used to set beside in the village school. This woman is still the innocent, sweet girl she had been. Then he remembered what he had been and realized what he was. "He leaned his burning head against the cool iron of a lamppost. God,' he said, how I hate myself'" (Barclay, Revelation 1, 72).
It's starting to come back to me. Like a leitmotif. No, it's like recovering from amnesia, but the opposite. It's Jesus Words, "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me." Chrysostom a native Greek speaking church father says that this isn't denying but renouncing. This word is used only of us renouncing self and Peter renouncing Jesus (NPNF, X). In Classical Greek it meant, "A failure to see self."
A recurring theme of Jesus is stealing on my ear. Remembering to forget self, failing to see self, saying of self what Peter said of Jesus: "I know not the man." And Paul tells us how this can be" in 1 Cor. 2:16: "But we have the mind of Christ." Remember He was of a mind to exchange His body and soul for yours, to exchange His holiness for your dirtiness, to exchange His innocence for your guilt. But it wasn't a mere matter of trading the one for the other. There was cost, payment, blood, sweat, and tears involved. Remember how strangely the Zacchaeus account ends? "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." That's the reason given for why salvation could come to the home of a chief tax collector who was very rich. Jesus just before had said it's easier for camel to thread a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. So, within the context of Luke 18 and 19, it comes about that the impossible happens, a camel is threaded through the eye of a needle, a very rich man goes to heaven. This happens because Jesus came to seek and save the lost wherever they may be found.
To find the lost cost Jesus. Jesus had to pay for the right to find them. They had lost themselves the moment they came into the world, and God's own Law would keep them that way. The Law judges us as unworthy of being found, as guilty of our own lostness. Jesus keeping the Law in our place and then denying Himself, taking up His cross and following it to the point of dying on it, that pays the price for us to be found. And Jesus declares He paid the price willingly. Jesus comforts all lost sheep with these words from John 10: "The reason my Father loves Me is that I lay down My lifeonly to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again."
Who's ashamed of what they paid dearly for willingly? Though you and I, sinners that we are, have been ashamed of Jesus, His Word, and His works from creation to the created order to the ways salvation comes to us, Jesus is not ashamed of us. Hebrews 2:11 trumpets: "So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers." Do mind this. Amen
Rev. Paul R. Harris
Trinity Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas
Second Sunday in Lent (20210228); Mark 8:31-38