Summary: Sermon for the 2nd Sunday in Lent, Year B
Mark 8: 31 – 38 / Follow Me
Intro: Have you ever heard the expression, “to cook someone’s goose”? It actually began as a reference to a man whose last name means “goose” in Czech ---- John Hus. John was the pastor of Bethlehem Church in Prague where 3,000 people came weekly to hear him proclaim the Gospel. The archbishop of Prague told John to stop preaching; but Hus refused. Hus was condemned and removed from his pastorate. So, he preached in the streets and people still came to listen. On July 16, 1415 Hus was burned at the stake while singing an old Latin Christian chant, “Christ, thou Son of the Living God, have mercy on me.”
I. The story of John Hus is not one of a super Christian. It is the story of an everyday person who found the love and grace available in a relationship with Christ Jesus.
A. VS. 34 . . .”If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself . . .”
B. There is a group of people who hunt monkeys, by cutting a coconut in two, placing an orange in the middle and then putting the two halves back together again, with a hole cut in one half that is big enough for a monkey’s hand to go through. When the monkey smells the orange, he puts his hand in the hole, grabs the orange and then cannot free his hand with the orange in his fist. The monkey refuses to let go of its “prize” even when hunters came to catch it. That monkey holding on to the orange is just like us. We hold onto things of the world even though we risk spiritual death for them.
C. ”If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself . . . What are you willing to let go of in order to follow Christ? God knows that very thing that keeps you from focusing on following Christ and challenges you to let it go.
II. VS. 34 – “take up his cross and follow me.” Almost every Christian sanctuary has a cross as the focal point.
A. The collective witness of the NT regards the cross as the visible symbol of the saving journey of Christ Jesus. It is the defining center of Christ’s redeeming work. His death on a Roman cross bridges the wide gulf of sin and death that separates human beings from God.
B. The cross, however it is rendered in a Christian worship space, is the central symbol of the faith, the fitting end of the journey of Jesus of Nazareth.
C. Paul Tillich has taught us, as a symbol it not only points beyond itself but participates in the reality to which it points, namely, the saving love of God for humanity. --- Why is it that every Christian sanctuary has his cross, while our own crosses are nowhere symbolized? – multitude of crosses at the door as a symbol of the call to discipleship that we have heard and are challenged to accept as we return to our world.
III. VS. 31 – 32 --- “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.”
A. The GK verb for “rebuke” (epitimaō έπιτιμάω) is often used to refer to the silencing of demons. Peter appears to think that Jesus is insane and needs to be exorcised. There are come today who would agree.