Sermon Detail

Happiness Revealed Seeing Jesus Clearly: Understanding and Applying the Wonder of the Cross

February 22, 2023 | Buster Brown

"And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say that I am?' And they told him, 'John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.' And he asked them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Peter answered him, 'You are the Christ.' And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him."

"And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, 'Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.'"  Mark 8:27-33

The most important aspect in the life of a disciple is to see the reality of Jesus in a comprehensive and clear fashion by the power of the Holy Spirit under the authority of the Word of God. 

To see Jesus clearly I must comprehend the wonders of sins forgiven by the substitutionary work of Jesus on the cross for me. 

If you don’t get the cross you don’t get it… The disciples had a misunderstanding of what Messiah would be and do. Therefore “Jesus spoke to them plainly” (Mark 8:32).

“For he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, 'The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.' But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.”  Mark 9:31-32

"Saying, 'See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.'"  Mark 10:33-34

1. The cross is a stumbling block to some and folly to others.

 “but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,”  1 Corinthians 1:23

2. Those who see Christ as only a great teacher or moral example do not understand and comprehend the greatness or the cross nor have the hope of heaven (They are like the man who “saw men as trees walking” Mark 8:24b).

3. Believers must be careful in drifting from the centrality of the cross. 

"Perhaps more common yet is the tendency to assume the gospel, whatever that is, while devoting creative energy and passion to other issues—marriage, happiness, prosperity, evangelism, the poor, wrestling with Islam, wrestling with the pressures of secularization, bioethics, dangers on the left, dangers on the right—the list is endless. This overlooks the fact that our hearers inevitably are drawn toward that about which we are most passionate. Every teacher knows that. My students are unlikely to learn all that I teach them; they are most likely to learn that about which I am most excited. If the gospel is merely assumed, while relatively peripheral issues ignite our passion, we will train a new generation to downplay the gospel and focus zeal on the periphery."  D.A. Carson, Prophetic from the Center

4. Note the “extreme/severe” response of verse 33 versus the disappointment of Mark 8:21.

“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.”  Philippians 1:18

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”  Galatians 1:8


1. “I once was lost, but now I am found. I once was blind, but now I see.” (John Newton) The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see the glory of the Gospel through the work of the cross and this hindsight is always 20/20 (1 Peter 1:3; 18-21, Philippians 3:10-ff, Galatians 6:14).

2. We must be resolute/adamant/single-minded in advocating the glory of Christ seen in the wonder and mercy of the cross. 

3. The cross allows us to be prophetic from the center. 

“This means to center our churches on the gospel, thereby producing a series of balances that other approaches do not have. We should be neither separatist or triumphalistic in relationship to our culture. Believers should seek to both inhabit the older cultural institutions and set up new, innovative institutions and networks that work for the common good on the basis of the Christian understanding of the cross.”  Ed. D.A. Carson, Tim Keller, The Gospel as Center, pg 18

4. We should assiduously follow the instruction of Charles Spurgeon, “Rest not then content without increase and acquaintance with Jesus. Seek to know more of Him and his divine nature, and His human relationship, and His finished work on the cross, in His death, in His resurrection, in His present glorious intercession, and in His future royal advent. Abide hard by the Cross, and search the mystery of his wounds. An increase of love to Jesus and more perfect apprehension of his love to us is one of the best tests of growth and grace.”  Morning and Evening, Jan 4


1. Why the strong response of 8:33 versus the disappoint/frustration as expressed 8:21?

2. How is the cross a stumbling block to Jews (who anticipate a militaristic conquering king) and folly to Gentiles (who just don’t get it)?

3. How is “gospel hindsight” 20/20?

4. How do we show a resolute/adamant spirit in the area of the cross of Christ and our teaching?