Second Sunday in Lent
Mark 8:31-38 (NRSV)
The passion prediction
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. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 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."
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. 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. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 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."
Wow! Talk about a tense moment between Jesus and Peter, and later, Jesus and his many, many followers! See, folks were talking about Jesus and following him because he was “the man about town.” He was full of power and even “unclean spirits” were subject to his authority. He was not afraid of the religious leadership of his day and often called them to the carpet for their failure to truly love God and the people whom they served. Some may have even begun to imagine that Jesus was going to be their political Messiah; that he was going to overthrow Rome and restore the kingdom to Israel!
Wow! They had all their hopes and dreams and plans and aspirations resting squarely on Jesus’ shoulders and so they must have felt more than horrified when he began to predict—openly and repeatedly—that he was not going to Jerusalem as their conquering warrior king, but rather to die on an old rugged cross as their Pascal lamb.
See, the cross was reserved for those people that the government really wanted to humiliate. The cross was a torture device and it was meant to send a strong message to the people that, “if you mess with us, this is what you will get too!” As people died a slow and agonizing death on the cross over the course of many hours (if you were lucky) and days (if you were not), it caused great distress to the one nailed to the tree, as well as to their loved ones on the ground.
Well, Peter had had enough of this kind of silly talk from Jesus! Of course Jesus was not going to suffer, he was not going to be rejected by the religious leaders, he was not going to be nailed to a cross, and he certainly was not going to die! I can just imagine Peter snatching Jesus’ arm and pulling him aside determined to “talk some sense into him.”
Well, that talk didn’t go as well as Peter had planned because just as he got out his first argument, Jesus calls everyone over and says in response to their “talk,” “Get behind me, Satan, for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things!” Whoa! How could Jesus say that to his friend and what exactly did he mean?
Well, first of all, I believe that Jesus was speaking to the idea and not to the person. Jesus wanted to openly rebuke the idea that he would willfully disobey God. Secondly, I believe he wanted to rebuke the notion that he would be afraid to finish the mission—to become atonement for sin and the means of reconciliation with his Father. Finally, I believe he wanted to rebuke the concept that he would lay down Kingdom Values in exchange for Earthly ones.
See, Earthly Values teach us that we must always be big and strong and brave. We must never allow anyone to take advantage of us and we must always meet any aggression with force. Furthermore, Earthly Values teach us that it is okay to become rich and famous at any cost, that you don’t need to worry about stepping on people on your way to the top, and that everything will be forgiven when you are the king.
Kingdom Values are very different, my friends. Kingdom Values say if you want to be a follower of Christ, you’re going to have to make some hard sacrifices. You are going to have to live The Way of Cross. You are going to have to give up the “fleshy” hopes and dreams and aspirations that you are hiding in your heart for fame and fortune, and take up the “spirit-filled” hopes and dreams and aspirations of our God.
See, when we live for Jesus, we die to self. We die to the Earthly Values and live for the Kingdom Values. We take up our crosses, and we follow Jesus. As we do so, we continually seek out opportunities to love people, even if they are unlovable, to be at peace, even with those who have been our enemies, to offer mercy even to the one who has most egregiously harmed us.
One of Jesus’ most famous sermons is, “The Sermon on the Mount.” In it, he made Kingdom Values crystal clear. He said,
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they shall possess the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called sons and daughters of God.
Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Oh my goodness! Kingdom Values really turn Earthly Values on their heads! The goal is not to save your earthly life, but to lose it for the sake of the Gospel. The goal is not to be happy all of the time, but to weep over the things that cause God pain. The goal is not be the “Big Kid on the Block,” but to be the servant of all…
Jesus put it plainly in today’s scripture when he stated, “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. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?”
Now, let me share some GOOD NEWS with you…Jesus isn’t saying that we can’t have nice things, or that we can never be happy, or that we will never be popular. But, Jesus is saying that if we value those things MORE than we value advancing the Kingdom of God, we will surely miss out on all that the Kingdom of Love has to offer to us!
When we became members of the Family of God, we pledged to follow Jesus. Jesus walked the dusty road to Calvary, and so must we! Jesus poured out his life for others, and so must we! There is no way to duck that path, for Jesus has said, “if we are ashamed of him and his words, he will be ashamed of us!”
I don’t want Jesus to be ashamed of me! In fact, every day I do all that I know to do to make God smile with pride over the work of this handmaiden!
On this Second Sunday in Lent, we have a choice. We can choose to live Earthly Values and hear, “Get thee behind me Satan, for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things!" Or we can choose to live out Kingdom Values with the expectation that one day we will hear God declare, “Well done good and faithful servant!” Oh! I am so excited about that GOOD NEWS day!
As I survey the wondrous cross and think about Jesus’ great sacrifice there, I ask myself, “How can I fail to declare his praise?” God has loved us with an everlasting love that will not let go! God loves us so much that he allowed Jesus to die on an old rugged cross to make provision for our sin and for our eternal relationship with our God in Heaven. This is the most Amazing story ever told! Let us make it our business to share it with others.
Have you decided to follow Jesus?
Holy God, thank you so much for teaching me to live the way of the cross. Help me to embrace Kingdom Values today and every day. I know that I will have to crucify my flesh and my natural inclinations; but I am willing to do that in order to be like Jesus. Please forgive me for those times when I have—and will—forget. I promise to do my best to follow Jesus, wherever he may lead. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Yesterday, I celebrated the 2,000th visitor to the GOOD NEWS website! I wish to extend a very special thank you to everyone who has been reading and sharing GOOD NEWS! You make this ministry possible!
Good News has now added a prayer ministry. If you have a prayer request or praise report, or would like to pray for others, please click the link found under my profile picture. Thank you!
The Good News Living Book Club will be reading Hinds Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard during March. You can purchase the book by clicking the link to the right. Please mark your calendars for our very first book club meeting to be held on Saturday, March 28, 2009, at 9:00am.
from Pastor Yolanda's blog http://aintathatgoodnews.blogspot.com