Summary: To look at presenting the full gospel whenever we are asked to, leaving nothing out, and never adding our own views.
John Sentamu on Billy Graham
I was listening to the radio on the way home from work on Wednesday evening and Archbishop John Sentamu was saying a few words about Billy Graham who had just died. He didn’t have long and I don’t remember all he said, but the few words that struck me were that he said of Billy Graham “He just said ‘the bible says’, ‘the bible says’, ‘the bible says’, he never put his own views in the message. He was the first person since St. Paul to do that.”
Evangelist and Preacher
That is the job of an evangelist, and a preacher. When I stand here and speak to you my job is to tell about Jesus and speak the good news that his life, death and resurrection are to us, allowing us to be with God forever. Tt is not to tell you about my good ideas about how to run the world, or to explain from my limited experience about how the world could be better for everyone. I’m sure I do that from time to time, some of you may even remember an example, but that is not why I am here. I am here to speak the gospel, the whole gospel and nothing but the gospel.
We will see how that lines up with our reading this morning as we go.
The reading from Marks Gospel, is the first of three sections where Jesus begins to teach His disciples about His death and resurrection. They have been with him for a while now, probably more than two years, although the time frame isn’t that clear. They have seen miracles, healings and have listened to all sorts of interactions with individuals and crowds. All that time Jesus has been teaching them about what God wants for them, and interpreting the scriptures for them.
In the passage immediately before this one we hear Peter identify Jesus as the Christ – the long expected Messiah who has come to save the Jews. We don’t know how much time passed between that statement and this mornings reading, but its possible that they happened close together.
Teaching a new topic
Jesus starts teaching a new topic – how He must suffer and be rejected before He is killed and will then rise again. Jesus either thinks they are ready, or perhaps he knows they never will be and just decides to get on with it.
Which ever it was, it was too much for Peter, he took Jesus aside and rebuked him. There is little doubt that Peter was only saying what they were all thinking. Something like: “We’ve followed Jesus for two years, we’ve seen that he is the one God promised, now He’s saying its all over. He’s going to take us all to Jerusalem and He’s going to be executed. What will become of us – the same fate I expect. We were hoping that He would overthrow the Romans and re-establish proper Jewish rule and it would be clear that our God is in control again.” Peter assumed that that is what God wanted – it sounds right doesn’t it. It certainly did to Peter.
We don’t know what he said to Jesus, but that word translated rebuke here is the same word used in Mt 17:18 “Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.”
Jesus graciously hears what Peter has to say, and then turns to go back to the rest of the disciples. Perhaps it was the look on their faces that triggered Jesus’ response, or perhaps it was coming anyway. “Get behind me, Satan!” You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
Contradict a Teacher
Wow, talk about put someone in his place! That must have hurt, but then Peter’s outburst had been unprecedented. He had been following Jesus and learning from him. He had thought of Jesus as a Rabbi – a teacher. Even at school these days, pupils do not say to their teachers “you can’t do that, that’s not the right way to go”. Peter, even though he had just identified Jesus as Messiah, had been listening to the wrong spiritual advice, He had not yet seen that God was doing a new thing through Jesus.
Jesus continues teaching
With no further comment Jesus focusses on the crowd. I wonder how much of the exchange was overheard by the crowd? Judging by what Jesus says next I can only imagine that most, if not all of the conversation (spat) with Peter was heard. As usual, Jesus uses it as a teaching point.