Sermon for the 19th Sunday following Pentecost 09//12/2021
Psalm 19; Proverbs 1:20-33; James 3:1-12; Mark 8:27-28
It’s rather late in the day, so I’m going to stay on the Gospel message of Mark 8:27-28, and it relates to Peter’s confession of Christ. All the supporting scriptures are intended to support the central question of the Christian faith. Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way, he asked them, ‘Who do you people say I am?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ ‘But what about you?’ he asked. Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ.’
So beloved, if today you happened to run into Jesus and He asked you who He is, what would your answer be? Jesus is teaching his disciples that he must suffer much trauma and tragic abuse by the Romans (who are experts in exerting pain and suffering), he will find himself rejected by the religious leadership (elders, chief priests and legal beagles of the time). He said he will be killed in a horrific manner and then three days later will rise from the dead, and that all that he had been teaching comes to pass, what would you think? Would you think, ‘Oh God, I’ve hooked onto the bus with a maniac or at least a less than honest person?’
Let me put it this way, if Jesus says to you, ‘Jump on board and ride with me, but you cannot drive.’ Would that make you feel somewhat insecure? Would you be concerned when He says I love you and want to know you, the real you. Believe it or not, He wants to know our real stories, the whole stories that maybe we don’t share with anyone else, a little closer to home for you? How about He already knows everything about you, yet He loves you anyway?! He wants us to know who we are in Him.
When you read Peter’s statement that Jesus is the Christ? Do we believe that Jesus will be rejected by the religious authorities and left to die upon the cross, and then resurrected after three days? Do all of these stories ring true to you? Do answer Jesus and said, ‘Yes, I believe you are the Christ, You are the Son of God. You died on the cross for my sins, so that my relationship with you is restored and secure and something I treasure.
The Bible is a help for us to live our lives by. Nowhere in scripture will you find it written that says God will remove all the trials of our lives if we pray hard enough. Maybe you need to adjust your mind as you read scripture to not ask for the trials to be lifted; maybe we need to recognize where God is present in those trials. Prayer is our way of communicating to open our needs, desires, and troubles to God, and ask Him to fulfill His desires for our lives, as He sees best. This will help us change our attitudes from wanting God to change our lives to changing our lives to want God more.
God simply asks us to offer our whole selves; our time, talents, our treasures, and in particular, those things that we suffer under, to learn to trust that we we’ll be led into a more meaningful life than what we could ever imagine on our own.
Beloved, our faith in God sets us apart from all other things of this world. Those in the world, think only of working, making money, have nicer homes, nice cars, etc., and those of who live in God through Christ Jesus, tend to focus on what things that matter to serving God’s will.
Our world is torn apart right now, with wars and evil things, that it’s hard to just turn on a TV and not cringe at what programming has to offer us. People have stopped reading books, choosing to read on-line or via applications. It’s time to turn off the TV, put down the cellphones, all other data devices and take a walk in the neighborhood, maybe talk to neighbors, but get some clean air and clear your minds of all the ugly stuff being that bombards us on a regular basis. May be take our Bible with us and go to a park and read it together or with others, enjoy some neighborhood Bible Studies. Let’s simplify our lives, so that we can get back to enjoying our families again; let’s relearn how to talk to each other without distractions of any kind, and get back to a closer relationship with God and without ourselves. May we learn that our works are in response to God’s love and by themselves, do nothing to get us into heaven, but that they honor our relationship with Almighty God.
If we relearn how to be a person that seeks God first for advice and not our friends; a person that prays first, then responds; a person that embraces silence, instead of trying to fill it; a person that opens our hearts and minds to the concept of God’s love and which abides within us, and should be shared with all others.
Chapter 15:9-12 of the Gospel of John is a favorite of mine, and I often use it in marriage ceremonies. 的t says, ‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my you may be in you and your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.’
If we do these seemingly simply things in our lives, we will find that many of the problems we perceive in our lives will just disappear. So I challenge each of you to love one another, as we have been loved. Amen.