The Second Sunday in Lent
Sermon starts at 16:46 in recording
Gospel: Mark 8:31-38
31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said,
‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For 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. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’
Afterthoughts: Living into the Ministry of Jesus
Disappointment is a powerful emotion.
When we are confronted with a change in what we expected,
it can throw us for a loop.
Think back to when you were younger as you looked forward in your life.
What were the dreams?
What did the landscape look like?
Who were the people that would be involved in your life?
And, now, who is there?
How did that vision manifest in your life?
How has the landscape changed?
What about the changes are beautiful to you?
What things bring up the grief of disappointment?
Last Sunday, we saw Peter rebuking Jesus because of what He had said the ministry of Messiah would look like.
· He would suffer.
· He would be rejected by those in control of the power structures.
· He would be killed.
· He would rise again.
And there were a litany of things that I had brought up that could be the reason for Peter’s confrontation; anything from his personal disappointment, to his distinct needs from Jesus to, maybe, even the consequences of challenging the power structures.
No matter, Jesus clapped right back and set the record straight.
Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
Loosely translated, “Take your confusion regarding God’s purposes elsewhere. You are thinking only about your own welfare and not the plans God has to impact the welfare of all of His creation.”
Not nice words.
Kind because they were useful words.
But not nice.
And, the rest of disciples would have surely thought twice about saying much else right then.
But Jesus is making a point about how we tend to respond to the disruption of our lives.
We like homeostasis.
Meaning we like the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium.
We like things to stay the same.
We like predictable.
We like comfortable.
We don’t like to move very far from our center.
By the way, that’s a normal feeling.
Especially for those of us who live in the Western world.
We get into trouble when the “set” things around us get displaced.
For Peter, he was getting used to being a part of the “in” crowd as far as rabbis go.
Jesus was creating a buzz.
That must have felt good to Peter.
No reason, in his mind, to change course.
But that is exactly what Jesus would do.
And why He said what He said.
And why He challenged those around Him like he did.
And why the call to discipleship challenges us as well.
The call to discipleship brings with it sacrifice.
Which, in turn, can bring suffering.
If you remember from last Sunday,
I made this statement,
We do not suffer because the Gospel calls us to suffer,
We suffer because it is the cost of living out the Gospel.”
The point of that was to address the reality of what we all, as Christians, are called into.
Which, if we honestly pursue it,
will create in us an uncomfortableness.
Maybe not famine in Africa suffering.
But suffering none the less.
And it is through the pursuit of the Gospel,
And the resultant suffering,
That we are refined.
That those things that are in contrast with God’s purposes are brought forward.
Where we, too, like Peter, rebuke the Christ.
We can get in the way.
I read this in a commentary about the reading from last week.
It was written by Ira Brent Driggers.
He says this,
“So much of North American Christianity—especially white Christianity—has been reduced to a comfortable affiliation with Jesus. Our tantrums against the specter of “relativism” hardly cloak the fact that there is little cost to our discipleship. Of course, some Christians are persecuted in certain parts of the world. Still, as preachers discern the relevance of this passage for today, they will do well to bear in mind that, for Mark at least, discipleship amounts to participation in Jesus’ ministry.”
Read the last part again,
“…they will do well to bear in mind that, for Mark at least, discipleship amounts to participation in Jesus’ ministry.”
That means you and me.
If we call ourselves Christians.
We are disciples.
Disciple means a learner.
We are all learning,
As we participate in the ministry of Jesus.
We are given the opportunity to participate,
in the ministry of reconciliation and restoration.
We, by our lives, get to manifest the love of Jesus through both word and deed, giving up our rights to our own life, for the sake of another.
This is the meaning of Jesus’ word’s,
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their 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.”
Will you give up that which you have for that which God has for you?
This, my friends, is the process of Lent.
An introspective look into our own lives as we strive to be more like Jesus.
Let us prayerfully, and with humility, seek Him who desires to restore us to our true and full self.