Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lent 2b - Mark 8:27-38

The divine thing Peter’s mind could not comprehend was how his idea of a butt kicking, conquering hero Messiah could undergo great suffering, rejection and death. That was not the Messiah program that Peter signed on to when he left his nets to follow. And more to the point, his earthly idea was to be the rock upon which the Jesus church would be founded, even if the two blowhard brothers, James and John, were lining up to sit at Jesus right and left. In the end he is the only disciple brave enough to follow the bound and gagged Jesus into the courtyard even though when push comes to shove his courage fails him. Perhaps his bitter tears have as much to do with being ashamed of Jesus as hearing the cock crow. We’re not so different and much of what passes as priestly piety is really about power. Earthly boundaries erected around font and table and pulpit and pew can be ways we save our life instead of losing it for those God came to save.  Even claims of “Love wins!” might miss the point of what God is about when you consider that winning only happens when someone else loses. So if love does win, which I believe it does, it’s only because Jesus was willing to be the biggest loser.


  1. So often this section of Scripture (v31-38) is quoted by those who advocate a very public, even political expression of piety as power. Anyone who doesn't share a specific ideology is "ashamed" of Jesus, and is tagged an "enemy of faith" in some entirely imagined "war on religion."
    As you point out, Jesus' example of taking up one's cross is about love, self-sacrifice and servanthood. His is the ultimate act of humility. By association, not being ashamed of Jesus would require us to live selfless lives, not lives of religious political power.
    Sort of along those lines, I recently read something about a life transition for a top pastor who faced with illness has been rethinking what it means to be a Christian. For me it was the best article I've read this Lent.

  2. Hello Greg! Thanks for the link. I am increasingly convinced that most of what passes as Christian is less than Christ intended. But that being said I think the left is just as far from the truth as the right. It is where the two meet that the truth lies. A personal piety of moral actions and attitudes that expresses itself by unconditional concern and action for the wellbeing of those outside the faith seems to me to be what Jesus was about. Our biggest problem might be the apostle Paul – but you didn’t hear that from me. :)

  3. Hmmm...interesting discussion between 2 very smart guys...{{Susie edges in between the guys}}...I agree with what you're both saying.

    What if the other part of the equation is that Jesus was willing to subject himself as the bigger loser, because he knew from whence he came..he knew who he was, and WHOSE he was...and he knew where he was going. All of those factors, for Jesus, and for when it comes to humility and self-sacrifice.

    Jesus did subject himself to being the biggest loser...but only for a moment...ultimately, death was the big loser in this heilsgeschichte. Just had to throw a little German in there for my Lutheran bros. :)

    Phil - did you see that cartoon I posted about playing charades with ministers? It is so funny - if you didn't see it, go to my page and take a look. I shared it from another friend who posted it.

    1. German. I'm impressed. Yes. Jesus operates out of a radical trust in the one who sent him and his ultimate purpose which was to destroy the power of death and set free those who "all their life were held in slavary to the fear of death." I did see it! Loved it. Thanks