Second Sunday in Lent

Readings: Genesis 17: 1-7,15-16; Psalm 22: 22-30; Romans 4: 13-25; Mark 8: 31-38

On the Last Sunday of the Epiphany, we celebrated the Transfiguration.  Peter, James and John were on the mountain top when Moses and Elijah appeared, speaking with Jesus.  Peter thought it worth commemorating, willing to construct three monuments, one for each.  Then a voice from the cloud overshadowing them proclaimed, “This is my Son, the Beloved.  Listen to him”.  Moses and Elijah faded away.  Peter didn’t quite get it that day as Jesus led them back down the mountain, back to mission.  Jesus then asked them to tell no one of the mountain top experience. 

In verses just before our reading today, in Caesare Philippi, Jesus asked his gathered disciples what people were saying about him.  Again, Peter spoke up, “You are the Christ, the Messiah”.  In Mark 8:30 Jesus asked them to keep it quiet.  Then, in our reading for today, Jesus began to explain the road ahead for the Christ, the road ahead for the Messiah.  He would “undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed…”.  The long-expected Messiah was to rule, was to conquer, was to destroy the enemies of Israel, just as King David did centuries before.  But Peter did not get it quite right.  The words Jesus used were, “Get behind me Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things, but on human things”. 

Jesus proceeded to define for the disciples and the gathered crowd the true Christhood, the true Messiahship.  The key to the true Christhood, the true Messiahship would be discovered as they followed him.  His Messiahship was in serving others, perhaps best illustrated by his washing the disciples’ feet in the upper room during his last meal among them.  There again, Peter at first objected before having his feet washed by the servant Messiah.  And later that night, when the temple police arrived on the Mount of Olives to arrest Jesus, Peter took out his sword and cut off the ear of a servant of the high priest.  He sought to defend Jesus, as he struggles to understand Jesus as the servant Messiah. 

Peter’s struggle to accept the servant Messiah time and time again is also the continuing struggle of the Church, and of those who call themselves Christians down through the ages and even into our current times.  Yet Holy Scripture is clear, Jesus came to serve, and if we are the followers of Jesus, we are also to serve.

We are to serve the hungry.
We are to serve the blind.
We are to serve the naked.
We are to serve the mentally confused.
We are to serve the young and the old.
We are to serve the orphan and widow.
We are to serve the refuges and the homeless.
We are to serve the poor and the wealthy.

We are to follow Jesus despite the objections we may have, just like Peter.  Jesus the servant Messiah walks before us, showing us the way to servant discipleship.  As we follow, Jesus will show us the way.  With his guidance we will find our true self.  With his guidance we will live as God created us to live.

Jesus calls us over the tumult of our life’s wild, restless sea,
Day by day his sweet voice soundeth,
Saying, “Christian, follow me”.
In our joys and in our sorrows,
Days of toil and hours of ease,
Still, he calls, in cares and pleasures,
“Christian, follow me”
Cecil Frances Alexander (1852)


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