Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for the sake of the gospel will save it. Mark 8:35
God of mercy,
help us to forgive as you have forgiven us,
to trust you, even when hope is failing,
and to take up our cross daily
and follow you in your redeeming work;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
- Proverbs 1:20-33
- Psalm 19
- James 2:18-26
- Mark 8:27-38
- Proverbs 31:10-31
- Psalm 1
- James 3:1-12
- Mark 9:30-37
A Thought to Ponder
Pentecost 16 – Mark 8:27-38
Along the way Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Christ …”
[Jesus] turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
In today’s Gospel, Peter is a model of vacillating faith – a model that mirrors our own reaction to the call to discipleship.
Caesar Philippi was a bazaar of worship places and temples, with altars erected to every concept of the divinity from the gods of Greece to the godhead of Caesar. Amid this marketplace of gods, Jesus asks Peter and the Twelve, “Who do people say that I am? . . . Who do you say that I am?” This is a turning point in Mark’s Gospel: Until now, Mark’s Jesus has been reluctant to have people believe in him only because of his miracles. Jesus talks, for the first time in Mark’s Gospel, about dark things ahead: rejection, suffering, death and resurrection (concepts that the disciples are unable to grasp).
In this incident (recorded by all three synoptics), Peter immediately confesses his faith in Jesus as the Messiah – the Messiah of victory and salvation. But when Jesus begins to speak of a Messiah who will suffer rejection and death, Peter objects. Peter’s reaction is ours, as well: We prefer to follow the popular, happy Jesus, the healing and comforting Jesus – but we back away from the suffering, humble, unsettling Jesus of the cross.
Every moment we live, every decision and choice we make, every good thing we do is our most revealing and telling response to the question, Who do you say I am? Our love for family and friends, our commitment to the highest moral and ethical standards, our willingness to take the first step toward reconciliation and forgiveness are, ultimately, our true confession of faith in Jesus Christ as the Love and Word of God incarnate.
Most of us understand all too well where Peter is coming from in today’s Gospel: Keep things upbeat and positive; don’t dwell on the negative; stop whining; pick yourself up and move on. That’s how humans think, Jesus says. But to “think like God” is to realise denying or diminishing such difficulties and stress can be devastating in the end, resurrection is only possible through taking up our own crosses in Jesus’ spirit of charity and mercy.
Only in “denying ourselves” in order to imitate the servanthood of Christ do we experience the true depth of our faith; only in embracing his compassion and humility in our lives do we enable the Spirit of God to renew and transform our world in God’s life and love.
We cannot belong to the company of Jesus unless we embrace the Crucified One’s spirit of selfless servanthood; we cannot stand with the Crucified Jesus unless we unconditionally and completely love and forgive others as he did; we cannot hope to share in the victory of the Risen Christ unless we “crucify” our fears, self-consciousness and prejudices that blind us from seeing him in the faces of every human being.
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Sorry the sermon was not recorded this week
You can read the Pew Sheet here255d1-pentecost-16-b