Lectionary Year B
March 19, 2000
Mark 8:31-38

Step VI: Contemporary Address


This sermon is meant for a younger congregation, younger than the average line congregation. The congregation I have in mind is made up mostly of second generation affluence in Texas' petroleum industry. These mostly young to middle age adults are comfortable in every way except spiritually. Spirituality is a foreign concept to them. A sermon from this text might get their attention. The formidable challenges in this text might motivate them to see Christ at His most serious, regarding followers.


This sermon wants to declare how Jesus called and Christ calls followers to go where leads. Jesus gets right serious here and believers need to hear the unmitigated and challenging truth of this story.


"Serious Business"
Bible stories tell more of God than of what God intends and enables followers of to do. Today's Gospel lesson is an exception. It tells graphically what God expects of us. What Jesus says to Peter, to the 12 and to the crowds is serious business. Cite favorite examples of Peter's mistakes and ours. "Take up Cross": what that image meant in the first century and what it means in this strategic year of Lord... Following Christ. Who is this Son of Man? Prior to Mark 8:31-38, Jesus gets designated as the Son of Man "lord even of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:28) and with "authority on earth to forgive sins" (Mark 2:10). Then the Son of Man is said to be in for suffering (Mark 8:31 & 9:31), as in Goppelt's TNT, vol I, pages 183-191. He, here, has some very definite and right radical expectations of followers. And, why not? He is our Savior and Lord.

So, does He really over-react to Peter's over-reacting? Maybe not. Where is He going? He is going to suffer His passion and die on the cross and on into eternal Life, as well.
In the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s Book of Confessions, we read further descriptions of His passion.
They are in The Heidelberg Catechism, "That throughout his life on earth, but especially at the end of it, he bore in body and soul the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race . . . condemned by an earthly judge,"
in The Westminster Confession of Faith, "Endured most grievous torments in his soul, and most painful sufferings in his body, was crucified and died, was buried, and remained under the power of death, . .",
The Westminster Shorter Catechism, "Christ's humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, . .",
in The Westminster Larger Catechism, "Christ humbled himself in his death, in that having been betrayed by Judas, forsaken by his disciples, scorned and rejected by the world, condemned by Pilate, and tormented by his persecutors, . .",
and The Confession of 1967, "The life, death, resurrection and promised coming of Jesus Christ has set a pattern for the church's mission. . . His suffering makes the church sensitive to all the sufferings of mankind . . ."

Jesus' "No-no's" turn to "Yes-yeses" He says is boldly plain. Save yourself Not! It is fruitless to make such an attempt. Do not be ashamed. The Gospel and it's best revealer, Jesus, are far from shameful. Romans 1:16: for salvation and for God's glory. Get serious. Jesus did and still does.

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