ChicksKnowChurch

 

Mark 8: 27-38

 

 

 

Dawn Skerritt

Psalm 19

1The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

2Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.

3There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;

4yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,

5which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy.

6Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat.

7The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of theLord are sure, making wise the simple;

8the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes;

9the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of theLord are true and righteous altogether.

10More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.

11Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

12But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults.

13Keep back your servant also from the insolent; do not let them have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

 

14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

 

Mark 8: 27-38:

27Jesus 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?”28And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” 30And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

31Then 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.”

34He 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.”

The word of God for the people of God.

14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

 

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This is a hard one, right?  I must start by saying this gospel message has been used throughout history and people use it today as an authority to back up abuse.  Biblical scholars agree that this is misuse of the text.  We can agree that being a disciple of Christ requires sacrifice, but it is my pastoral duty to also warn you that can be taken too far.  The sacrifice that Jesus asks of us comes from within us and cannot be forced onto us by others.  If you have questions about this, I would encourage further dialogue.  For now, I will consider that my disclaimer and will move forward with the text.

After study, discernment and prayer, I believe that this passage is a call for us as disciples.  

“Who do you say that I am?”

Our gospel message today includes so many things, so we will go over a few of them today.  I want to point your attention to Jesus’ question to His disciples in verse 27, “Who do people say that I am?” and later in verse 29, “Who do you say that I am?”  

This is perhaps the most relevant thing to our living as Christians and explaining our faith walk to others.

Many people proclaim the good news.  When we think about how others proclaim the good news, what do they say about Jesus?  What do we say about Jesus?  

These questions were incredibly hard for the authors of the gospel to address.  So hard, in fact, that scholars have tried to describe Jesus without much help from scripture.  We can read where Jesus goes, and what He does, but to understand what He was like, what kind of personality He had, or even what He looked like is a hard task.  I am intrigued at the many likenesses of Christ in art throughout the world.  

We can raise curiosity around this, but as people we tend to talk about ourselves by the relationships we have and the things we do.  As we get to know each other, I think we will be exchanging all kinds of these descriptors to talk about ourselves.  In fact, I think it is incredibly challenging not to, and I don’t expect us to change how we talk about ourselves.

So, the people who experienced Jesus also had this complex problem of pinning down descriptions of Him.  Perhaps they believed he was a prophet, teacher, and healer.  While all of these are true, it seems Jesus easily fell into mistaken identity.

Considering the list of names they share with Him, they believed He was doing God’s work.  I wonder, too, if we can expand that to “being God’s work?”  I want to share a story with you.

This is my first day behind the pulpit with you.  I have been here since the beginning of the month.  You all did a fantastic job of keeping the pulpit filled and pastoral care happening without a pastor this summer.  I give thanks for you and your hard work.

I’m a doer.  I have known this since the first asvab test I took in High School.  I like to do things and fix things and keep my hands busy.  And I like to talk.  My family can attest to that!  

We moved here from Aurora, Colorado, where I spent fifteen months as a chaplain resident for the University of Colorado Hospital.  The hospital is a level two trauma center and attracts patients from the greater Denver metro area as well as patients from Denver International Airport.  Additionally, this hospital receives patients who are life-flighted to receive specialized care.  This massive hospital services over six hundred patient beds and includes several specialized intensive care units.  My time spent there is part of something called clinical pastoral education.  I was in class with peers from different denominations, and provided clinical care as chaplain.  I am sure you will hear more about my time there, but for right now, I want to share that I went into this program as a “doer.”  I learned quickly that most of my job was “to be.”  I’ve heard people suggest that “to be” is “simply to be,” but I am rebutting that notion immediately, because I found “being” with people incredibly challenging at times, especially in their suffering.  That said, I also find I am held by God in those spaces and deeply rewarded by the work.

Today’s scripture lesson reminds me that I talk about God with us, as in Being.  As we think about how we talk about Jesus, I would encourage you to consider the spiritual gifts that you have and ask if Jesus may have also had those same gifts.

His disciples suggest several other people who are well known at the time, and the very second that Peter says, “You are the Messiah,” Jesus orders him at once not to tell anyone.  Peter is kind of a smarty-pants.  I experience him as witty and wonder if his remark is a lucky guess.  Immediately, Jesus begins teaching the disciples about what He will experience and perhaps as important to them, what they will experience of his suffering.  Peter doesn’t like to hear about the suffering, and Peter “rebukes” Jesus.  This basically means that Peter disapproves and criticizes Jesus.  Biblical scholars suggest that Peter questions Jesus in disbelief, because he does not think that the Messiah would need to suffer.  From my own experience as chaplain, I am guessing that Peter doesn’t want the suffering to be true, as he knows he will also be affected by the suffering of the Human One.  But he has interrupted Jesus’ teaching and frankly, Jesus doesn’t like that much.  

“Get behind me, Satan!”  Is Jesus calling Peter names here or what?  Probably not.  Jesus has an important message and is trying to get through to the disciples.  Peter interrupts and Jesus responds to that interruption.  Jesus reminds him that he is having human thoughts and needs to stop, listen and be to hear the word of God.  Ancient hearers of the text would be asked to stand for the reading of the gospel.  This serves as a reminder that to hear God’s word, we must be alert to it.  Peter was not ready for the news.   Perhaps that is true for us too?

So, now for the meat of the message.  Jesus tells his followers to take up their crosses.  He wants them to hear the message carefully, and this message, the good news, is extended to us today:

34He 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.”

There are no warm fuzzies here in the message.  Living a life with Christ is hard work.  There is doing and there is being.  We are called to unashamedly rebuke the world around us as it is wrought with human desire.  The good news is that we can achieve this and we know the recipe.  You have the benefit of scripture, the livelihood of prayer and discernment and God with us.  As we live into our discipleship, how will you think about Jesus this week?  How will we talk about Him?  Who do you say that He is?