Posted on Sun, Mar 1, 2015
March 1, 2015
2nd Sunday in Lent
Gospel Text: Mark 8:31-38 “… It was reckoned as Righteousness…”
Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection
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. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But 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. 35 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. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those 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.’
What would you do if your favorite teacher, mentor or leader said to you, “very soon WE will be entering such-n-such city,” and the instant you hear that your are excited because he or she said, “WE will be entering such-n-such city,” and this sounds like something you have been looking forward to for a long time… but then he or she continues, “after we arrive I must endure humiliation, severe beatings that will turn your stomach, be rejection by all the important leaders (all them you know very well) and then they will also have me murdered” … and at this moment you will find it impossible to listen to any more of this absurd plan… but he or she will continue, “oh, and ‘not to worry,’ I will come back to life a few days later” … What would be going through your mind? How would you feel? What would you do? If you have any sense of loyalty, love or concern for your beloved teacher, you would do exactly as what Peter did!
This is exactly what was going through Peter’s mind, along with other things. First, Peter knew they were going to Jerusalem, and he knew that something amazing would happen once they arrived. Second, Peter knew that he and his disciples would be greatly affected by the events that would occur soon after their arrival in Jerusalem.
But after traveling with Jesus all through Galilee, and as far north as cities in nowadays Southern Lebanon, Peter understood that Jesus is very much and most likely, the Messiah of Israel. He saw Jesus bring people back from the dead, cure and restore the very ill and even the blind, feed thousands of people with a mere morsel of fish and loaves, and even put the scribes and priests in their proper theological, traditional and spiritual place, therefore, when they get into Jerusalem, if Jesus IS the Messiah, and if that little meeting he witnessed when Jesus met Elijah and Moses up on the mountain meant anything, Jesus ‘as the Messiah of Israel,’ will definitely be shaking things up when they entered Jerusalem and visited the temple.
Peter had very clear expectations of what would happen. He had very high hopes of what may happen after they arrived in Jerusalem. He had the inside scoop on who Jesus really was, and as he put two and two together in his mind, he expected Jesus to turn the entire world of the Jews and the Temple system upside down.
As a man living in a country where his own people were being occupied by a ruthless foreign army, Peter’s hopes and expectations were limited to human possibilities. Peter knew that Jesus was capable of doing anything he wanted to do, but up to this moment, what could he expect.
It was already clear that some of the disciples had been talking about that exact topic as they walked, and John’s mother even tried to get Jesus’ ear to convince Jesus to have John sit on the right side of Jesus’ thrown when they arrived.
Their expectation is that Jesus would somehow remove the Romans, and totally reform the Temple System according to what Jesus had been teaching. And they knew from experience that Jesus’ teaching had not gone down well with the present religious leaders and lawyers; and there would be a political as well as a major religious confrontation and Jesus would be crowned King.
The only thing they had correct in their hopes and expectations would be the truth that Jesus would be ‘crowned king,’ but hardly in the way they imagined.
They were trapped in the fact that they could only think like humans, according to human history and the way humans got things done mostly through conflict and violence, and they did not think in divine ways.
This is actually the second time Peter tried to stop Jesus in fulfilling His mission. The first one was during the Transfiguration when Peter was more interested in preserving the good feelings of his mountain top experience rather than return to the hungry, lonely and lost masses living in the towns they were planning on visiting.
To stop Jesus from going to the cross is exactly what the devil would want to happen. Remember, it was the evil spirits or demons that understood Jesus’ true identity, AND HIS PURPOSE.
Even though Peter was a first hand witness to Jesus’ teaching and miracles, he was thinking like a human being and was blind to seeing God acting because he was distracted with his own expectations and human perspectives.
People today are more interested in seeing the TV evangelist do titillating acts of healing rather than proclaim forgiveness and the Good News that through that cross in Jerusalem, our relationship with God has been reconciled and RE-Created anew forever more.
From here, I could go in many directions with my message for today, but as we are on a Journey Through Lent, I want to try something new.
It wouldn't be until AFTER Peter saw the empty tomb, AND was filled with the Holy Spirit, was Peter able to realize the absolutely amazing plan God had in sacrificing God’s one and only Son, IN ORDER, obtain complete forgiveness, healing, and hope for all people. Through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, we were given the promise of forgiveness and eternal life.
Through death, we received Life… who would have expected that? Only Satan…
So, how do we apply this to our own Lenten journey? What expectations do you have for each day? Of course we all have our calendars, to do lists, goals and obligations, meetings and errands WE HAVE TO DO… but do we expect to see God act within our busy and hectic days?
As we go through our days, God is not sitting here waiting for you to arrive on Sunday… In Matthew 28, Jesus says, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” That means, at every moment in our busy days, God is with you, wanting to speak with you, teach you something, introduce you to new experiences that draw you closer to Him… and so much more.
Did you ever think that the sudden interruption by someone, something or new event, could be a teachable moment… even if it is not a particularly pleasant experience? Most likely especially during those difficult uncomfortable moments, there is an opportunity to learn, see and grow.
Yesterday we learned at our Wellness Group, that we need to separate ourselves from the experience and not let the emotions control us, and step back, detach, and not allow ourselves to be drawn into or identified by the negative experience. In moments like these, Luther would probe a little deeper and ask, “What does this (event or experience) mean?”
People often ask me, Oprah and Dr. Phil, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” There isn’t any gotcha game against good people, the fact is that ‘things just happen,’ whether we are good or bad. ‘Things just happen,” how you choose to respond to the tragedy is the issue. Will you allow the sadness, anger, or disappoint you to the point you can’t function, grieve, or begin a healing process? The choice is totally up to you.
What is required is a spiritual exercise in being aware of whom you are and get back to a point of at least being able to function as a Child of God… not defined by the event you are encountering! Yesterday we learned of the Buddhist way of returning to ‘the breath’ in difficult times and detaching ourselves from the anger, resentment, desire for revenge and the like. For Christians, we are called to return to the promise we are given in baptism. You are not defined by our experiences or hardships, we are not even identified by our success and accolades, we are defined and identifies by what God calls us. And that is Child of God, redeemed and sanctified through the Cross of Christ, and walking within the presence of God now and forever. Can you see how the way we see the world, perceive the world or even relate to the world changes when we look at the world through a heart made new through the divine act of Jesus’ mercy?
Every moment we have, is not an obligation to fulfill our the demands of our calendars and to do lists, but a gift and opportunity given to us to draw us closer to the heart and mind of God.
Unlike Peter in today’s text, the Holy Spirit blows among us and empowers us each and everyday. The Gospel is known to us and can give us hope and life when we can see only disappointment and death.
With this in mind, what can you now expect to see, hear or experience each new day? If you are only concerned with your calendar, goals and obligations, your expectations and demands will become the center of your life and you will miss seeing the divine right before your very eyes. You only get the moment called, “THE NOW,” to really live and experience the wonder of the life God blesses us with each and everyday.
Life is too short and filled with blessings to hold onto those very things that blind us from God’s goodness and mercy. Let Go of all the things that Jesus has freed us from through His suffering, death and resurrection. It isn’t yours to carry anyway. Free yourselves from meaningless expectations and let your heart and mind open to the beauty given to us through unconditional love and mercy.
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