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September 13, 2015 - Mark 8.27-38

“The Journey”

Mark 8:27-38

September 13, 2015

 

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.”

 

Gospel organized as a Journey.   Disciples breathlessly trying to catch up with Jesus.  “Immediately”

 

Mark begins with Calling of Disciples.   The Gospel of Mark begins, much like the other Gospels, with Jesus' simple and direct, "Follow me!"

Something about Jesus leads him to ask ordinary folk like you and I to follow him. But one might expect that some of these folk might reasonably ask Jesus, "Well, who are you and where are you going?"

But they don't; they just follow. And as they follow, Jesus gradually unpacks for them who he is and where he's headed. But not too quickly. Jesus has been feeding, healing, working, and preaching but he has not said all that much about himself. No, we have to wait until we get here, midway in Mark's Gospel, before Jesus sits down and explicitly explains who he really is and where he is going.

He surprises his disciples by telling them that he is going to the cross. "God forbid!" says Peter, the chief of the disciples. It's just impossible to believe that this "Son of God" should be betrayed and suffer and die.

 

They followed him w/out knowing who he was or where he was going. They just stumbled along after him.  That’s what discipleship is.  Stumbling along after Jesus.

 

Pre-martial counseling.  Knowing what they are getting into.

 

At the end of Mark, the women at the tomb.  “Looking for Jesus?...Sorry, you just missed him.”  Expect a BIG ENTRANCE.  Nope.  “He was here a minute ago.”

 

Isn’t that typical of Jesus?  Just when we think we are about there, he moves. 

 

That’s what discipleship is.  FOLLOWING Jesus.  Doesn’t depend on knowledge, and it isn’t about getting a list of beliefs straight in your head.  It’s not what you believe ABOUT Jesus, either.  There are lots of things you don’t have to believe ABOUT Jesus – what is most important is that you believe IN Jesus.

 

Pilgrim’s Progress and Enchanted Journey.

 

“Get thee Behind me Satan!”  “Get out of my sight, Satan!”  Same verb as “follow me.”  Know your place.

 

Verse 34 is the essence of discipleship.  Taking up a cross.  So the good news in this challenging teaching is this: Jesus believes that you are able to bear the cross.

 

In C.S. Lewis’ Narnia book series, the children are eating in the home of the Beaver family.  They are learning about the Lion Aslan, which is Lewis’ character based on Jesus.  The children ask if this Aslan is a safe lion.  “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”[1]  Keep in mind that when you agree to follow Jesus that it is not necessarily safe – in fact, it might be the riskiest thing you can do, to follow Jesus. 

Are you willing to follow Jesus even if you know it might get risky?  The thing about living in a risky way – it sure is fun, and makes for good stories.  It is certainly not boring.

 

Jesus wants us to know what following him will do to us.  As Barbara Brown Taylor says, “Following Jesus isn’t about creating a safe, caring environment where people’s needs will be met; It is about living our lives in such a committed way to Christ and living so differently than the rest of the world that those in authority will get mad enough to kill us.  Following Jesus will cost you all that you have, all that you love, and all that you are.  Jesus does not want us to be fooled about that.”

 

Fred Craddock story about giving of his life to Jesus.  So here we are, taught by Jesus. But as Jesus implies, the point of this faith is not simply to sit here and listen to Jesus' teaching, but to get out of here and to live his teaching, to be cross bearers in the world.

 

Still born Christians.  Being born and that’s it.  Taking the first steps of faith and never getting around to taking the next steps.

 

It is my prayer that God will give you and me the courage to follow Jesus wherever he may lead us.