Sunday 28th February 2021
Second Sunday of Lent
Almighty God, you show to those who are in error the light of your truth, that they may return to the way of righteousness: grant to all those who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s religion, that they may reject those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same: through our Lord Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
Mark Chapter 8 Verses 31-38.
Just before today’s reading, in fact in verse 30, Peter says to Jesus “You are the Christ.” Peter recognised that Jesus was the King the Israelites had been expecting, and His coming had been prophesied in the Old Testament. From this point onwards in Mark’s gospel, the question becomes: “What does it mean for Jesus to be King?”
Notice that the very first thing Jesus teaches them, in verse 31, is that “the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected and that he must be killed.” This is Jesus teaching them about what it means for him to be King: Not that he will suffer, but that he must. It is part of his mission.
People sometimes have the view of Jesus as a weak character, someone who is blown around by the winds of chance, and someone who ends up being killed because he manages to annoy the wrong people. But that is not at all how the Bible sees it. Jesus says that his death is part and parcel of his mission.
In fact, when Peter takes Jesus aside to take him to task, in verse 33 Jesus rebukes him because he does not “have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Jesus says that it is the plan of God himself that Peter is opposing.
But all this raises a question: why was it so necessary for Jesus to die? One of the clearest answers to that question comes in the Old Testament, from Isaiah 53. This is a prophecy, written 500 years before Jesus was born, about what he would come to do. Verses 5-6 say,
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
I don’t know whether this is still the case, but in the past if someone was working very hard and being a bit of a swot, we might say to them “get a life!” The implication being that they weren’t really living life if they were reading books and studying all the time. And I think sometimes that is how we perceive the Christian life to be: not being promiscuous in our relationships, Get a life! Not going out getting drunk at the weekends? Get a life! Life is out there to be lived – get out there and please yourself!
But what Jesus says here is that people who lose life for him and for the gospel will actually find it. Living a life with Jesus as Lord is the most amount of life that it is possible to have. Jesus says in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
But there’s more! Notice back in verse 31 how Jesus says that after three days he will rise again. Those who would follow Jesus, who deny themselves, who take up their cross, will ultimately join in his resurrection. The apostle Paul says, in Romans 6:5,
“If we have been united with [Jesus] like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.”
MY THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
It is my belief that God has a plan for all of us if we but listen to His voice and follow Him. Please don’t however interpret this statement to mean, that theologically I believe in predestination, that is not what I am saying.
Read Jeremiah chapter 29 verse 11:-
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
God is a loving God who wants nothing else for us his children but our wellbeing. We were created with a free will and therefore it is our choice whether we have ‘life to the full’ or whether we go our own way. However, there is a warning; – ‘it isn’t easy being a Christian, but then nobody said it would be.’
FROM LAST WEEK
If you read the blog last week you may remember that I was talking about light. After preparing the blog I received a short video on Facebook from the Penha Franca Church, which is the English language Roman Catholic Church in Madeira with Father Bernardino, with whom we work closely. The video showed their small music group performing at last Sunday’s Mass, a Hymn entitled ‘Christ be our Light’. The video reminded me of this wonderful hymn and it’s words and below is a link for you to hear the hymn, please pay particular attention to the words.
Forgive those things we have done which have caused you sadness,
and those things we should have done that would have brought you joy.
In both we have failed ourselves, and you.
Bring us back to that place where our journey began,
when we said that we would follow the way that you first trod.
Lead us to the Cross and meet us there.
With my love and prayers, as always.