James preached this on 28th Feb 2021 at 11.15 from Mark 8v31ff
When you saw me wearing that ridiculous hat just now and talking about my new role as Rural dean – was there a moment when you were thinking – this is really embarrassing.
We are familiar with our kids feeling a little embarrassed about us – there comes a point when you walk them to the primary school and they no longer want a goodbye kiss and hug. Their cool.
Or, in our case now that they’re grown up and students, we might go into their room late of an evening to say Good Night to them and they might be on a zoom with their friends and they really don’t want you to sing a lullaby and its bad enough that I’m wearing my Christmas Jesus is the Reason for the Season jumper.
Ooh this is awkward.
Jesus says If anyone is ashamed of me and my words. Why would anyone be ashamed of Jesus? You might fear persecution. But that’s not the same as being ashamed.
We want to build a church here that you would not be ashamed to invite people to. IF what we do is a bit Naff – but its your sort of Naff, you like it, but its just that you’re also aware, fear, that others would just think ‘Nope that is just embarrassingly awful’ then what do you do?
You like it because its your comfort zone and you’ve grown up with it but you become aware that your friends might not see it that way.
Do you think I should invite Jesus to come and preach? If I could get Jesus to preach next week – should I get him along? How would it be if I got Jesus to be a guest speaker next time we do a Men’s Supper (I am so looking forward to these). Or Jesus to chair our next PCC meeting?
I hope that you are thinking WOW that would be totally amazing – Jesus! To come and give a talk?!
IF you knew that Jesus was going to speak – would you come to that service, would you bring, invite, anyone else?
The problem with Jesus is you’re not quite sure what he’s going to say. He spent a lot of time with down and outs with prostitutes, sinners, with enemy collaborators, with tax collectors – he spent a lot of time winding up middle class Religious people.
And now maybe you’re thinking – actually I’m not so sure. He might pop some of my bubbles the things that I think are important might turn out to be not so important.
I want us to build a Church family that you would not be ashamed of.
I want you to grow a faith where you would not be ashamed of what Jesus might say Even though you don’t know what he might say.
‘Afterall he is not a tame lion!’.
I need your help and courage to do that.
When was the last time that you Rebuked someone? Or that Someone rebuked you?
Most days I really really want to rebuke someone. Actually what happens is I rant and rave in the car instead of to the person, or I bite my tongue or I scream into the pillow. And mostly that’s a really Good Thing, gets it out of my system and without the hurt of being being stupid.
Peter rebukes Jesus – wow you have to be so brave. I love Peter, he’s my favourite disciple, he just jumps in with both feet, he’s constantly putting his foot in his mouth. Brilliant guy. Brave man.
Just before our Gospel reading Jesus has said WHO do you think I am?
I wonder what you would say if your hairdresser – when we finally get to see her again – what would you say if she said – So who is Jesus to you?
Peter gets the answer right – Peter says You are the Messiah. And Jesus says Yes that’s the right answer.
Marks Gospel has spent the last 7 and a bit chapters building up to this point – we’ve seen miracle after miracle – Jesus is the Messiah.
So when Peter hears Jesus saying Yes I am the Hero of this Story, I am the saviour of the world, I am going to suffer, be rejected, be killed, – I wonder if Peter even hears the last bit – and Rise again –
anyway by this stage Peter is saying NO! That is not how this story goes. That’s not the hero I want. And so that’s why we have 7 and a bit chapters saying Yes Jesus is the Messiah. And now we have 7 and a bit chapters explaining what sort of Messiah.
And Peter is ashamed that Jesus is going to be this sort of painful, loser, sort of Hero.
And so this is what brings Jesus to this awkward moment where he shows that Jesus really is not an Englishman, Jesus’s stinging rebuke, scolding comment – you do not have in mind the concerns of God!
So here’s the punchline to this sermon – Please Jesus I would like to see People, situations, through your eyes.
I would like to have a small glimpse into the mind of God. I want to live a life that isn’t full of the petty squabbles and nonsense of what we tend to think is important.
Please Lord help me to have in mind the concerns of God.
And maybe, Jesus, with the help of the Holy Spirit, will help us.
But it might also be that actually we don’t always need to see the mind of God, we just need to trust God.
Jesus, here, doesn’t explain why. He just says This is what’s going to happen.
As we get closer to Good Friday we will explore the WHY – but today you don’t get that, you just get the call to Trust Jesus. Put your faith in Jesus.
Believe that what Jesus is doing is not naff, and its not something to be ashamed of, and it is going to shake and challenge us.
So Jesus calls us to Deny ourselves and take up our crosses, to lose our lives for His sake – Jesus goes on to explain that there is a cost in being a disciple.
Don’t be afraid of that – there’s a cost in training to be an Olympic Champion – you have to deny yourself – I don’t know chocolate, drugs, alcohol, sleep, you have to get up early and train hard.
You want to be a Teacher, a Plumber, Fire officer, a Painter – there’s a cost there.
You want to be a disciple of Jesus? There’s a cost there.
We talked last week about the benefit of training as a disciple of Jesus – the cleansed conscience, the sense of purpose and adventure, the peace, the love, the joy, the forgiveness, the gifts of healing and the power to forgive – astonishing.
But if we to be practicing Christians then we must practice. And that means getting it right and getting it wrong.
It means allowing Jesus to rebuke us when we go off track because we’re being nervous of Jesus – What is this crazy guy going to do next? Start walking on water? Maybe Jesus telling someone to give up their financial riches if they want to be truly deeply rich in what matters in life.
Oh dear God give me an open heart to trust you. To go with the crazy call of God and see where it leads. Help me Lord not to be ashamed of the awkward challenging stuff that you say.
Here is the invitation to living a transforming life – a life where we are slowly transformed and a life where we join with Jesus as He transforms our church, our community, our society. Gosh that’s scary.
But Jesus came to give us life and to the full. He promises that he wants our Joy to be complete – and oddly it will lead to living a life that doesn’t take but gives, that doesn’t slap back but forgives, that goes the extra mile, that breaks the perpetual downward spiral of hate and revenge by sacrifice.
Jesus must suffer many things and the only way that He can hold to that course is by constantly having in mind the concerns of God.
There are moments when we get to see that.
But there are plenty of times when we must hold tight to our faith and trust that God knows what he’s doing and in the midst of our fear – pray – Jesus help me!
Help me to keep in mind what concerns you.
Help me Lord to have in mind the concerns of God.