Last Sunday we were visited by Bishop Scarfe. I expected him to give the sermon which is what is commonly done. However, the weather in Iowa in March is not all that predictable so I put together a plan B sermon just in case he could not make it. It seemed like such a shame to not get it out there so here it is.
The Gospel Reading
Mark 8:31-38Then Jesus began to teach his disciples 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."
Second Sunday in Lent
Peter does not like what he hears. His Spiritual Master tells Peter and the other disciples that he will be rejected by the chief priests and legal experts and killed and after three days he will rise from death. That was not the story Peter wanted to hear. It wasn't the way he had pictured things were going to end up.
I am sure all of you have planned a trip well in advance. You make sure your car is in working order. You have a room reserved in advance. When everything is in place you spend the weeks or months day dreaming about all of the things you are going to do on this wonderful vacation. I always figure the day dreaming about the trip is often the best part of the trip. The weather will be perfect. Your car will not break down. No flights will be delayed or canceled. No one will get sick. It will be perfect and you are excited. Then, when the day finally comes things usually don't work out exactly the way you had figured they would. That is life.
Jesus was giving Peter and the other disciples a dose of life. There was going to be an awful period before it got better. I am pretty sure Peter had other ideas about how the story of Jesus as the messiah, the chosen one, was going to play out. In his mind Jesus was going to lead the movement to create a kingdom on earth and people would be won over by him and Jesus would rule his kingdom justly. Peter's idea of a messiah was not of someone who would be shamefully treated and hung on a cross in his last days.
Peter rebuked Jesus for even mentioning this awful, dark, future
But Jesus knew what he had to do. He knew what had to happen in order for him to complete his mission of redeeming the world. He had to die and he had to die in a terrible way. I believe that Jesus saw the words of Peter as a temptation to not go through with it. Jesus had a choice, He could leave Jerusalem with his followers and live a long and fruitful life.
But, he knew what he had to do. He had to die. He had to die for you and me. His suffering on the cross. His death and resurrection would change the world. This painful journey to the cross was his greatest act of love for you and me.