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Summary: A sermon for the Second Sunday in Lent, Series B

2nd Sunday of Lent, March 8, 2009 “Series B”

Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, as we move through this season of Lent, inspire us through the power of your Holy Spirit, to embrace anew your love for us, as revealed in the death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus the Christ. Give us the faith we need to be your disciples. Enable us to discern your Word, that it might transform us to embrace your will for our lives, and live in witness to your saving grace. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.

I believe that in order to truly understand the context and dynamic of our Gospel lesson for this morning, it is important to include the three verses that immediately precede our text. Here Mark tells us, “Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they answered him, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ [Jesus] asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah.” And [Jesus] sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.”

This brings us to a rather strange question. If I might paraphrase Daniel Schowalter’s commentary on this prelude to our Gospel lesson, [New Proclamation, Fortress Press, 2005] Why all this secrecy about the identity of Jesus. Rather than encouraging this realization that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus ‘sternly’ orders his disciples not to tell anyone… If great numbers of people came to believe that Jesus was God’s Anointed One, and began to repent and follow him, how could that be a bad thing?

However, as Schowalter goes on to point out, although Peter has been persuaded from Jesus’ teachings and miracles that Jesus is from God, Peter fails to comprehend that Jesus ministry represents a different kind of Messiah than expected by the majority of Jews at that time.

For centuries, the Jews had prayed that God would raise up for them a new anointed one, a new king like David, who would lead the people, defeat the oppressors, and reestablish the kingdom of Israel. Although the enemies changed from Assyrians, to Babylonians, to Persians, to Macedonieans, to Hasmoneans, to Romans, their remained hope that God would provide Israel with a new king like David.

This becomes evident when we move into our lesson for this morning. As soon as Peter identifies Jesus as the Messiah, and Jesus pleads with his disciples not to tell anyone his true identity, Jesus begins to explain to his disciples that he must suffer and die. And Mark tells us that he said this quite openly, as a matter of fact. Jesus says that he must undergo great suffering, be rejected by all of the religious leaders of Israel, be killed, and after three days, rise again.

And what is the first thing that Peter does, the one who had just identified Jesus to be the Messiah, God’s Anointed. Peter takes Jesus aside from the others and begins to rebuke Jesus. In other words, Peter begins to tell Jesus that he has got to be wrong. This business about suffering and rejection and dying is not the way that the Messiah is to conduct his ministry. You are going to become Israel’s new king, defeat the Romans, and establish peace. Listen to me, Jesus! You’re wrong.


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