Summary: A sermon for the 15th Sunday after Pentecost Proper 20 Bearing a Cross
15th Sunday after Pentecost
"The High Price of Godly Living"
30 ¶ They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he would not have any one know it;
31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise."
32 But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to ask him.
33 And they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you discussing on the way?"
34 But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest.
35 And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, "If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all."
36 And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them,
37 "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me."
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ.
A woman we’ll call Mary had worked for many years in a large downtown business office. Many different things were said about Mary, hut there was one thing all of her colleagues agreed on: Mary was a very unlike able, hateful person.
No one ever managed to get close enough to her to know her very well. Mary had a way of quickly turning: off anyone who tried to get close to her. No one ever managed to get to know her well. She was a loner, a crab, very disagreeable and when eve a new employee was hired, the warning went out very quickly : "Stay away from Mary!!!" This situation went on for many years, until a new employee named Sally arrived on the scene. ’Belly disregarded all of the warnings about Mary and she made a very special effort to let her know there was someone in the office who really cared about her. Slowly Mary came out of her shell, relaxed began communicate and even developed one or two friendships.
Then early one morning, the whole office was shocked to learn that Sally had died suddenly in her sleep. When Mary heard the news, she cried and cried and said over and over again, " SHE WAS THE ONLY CHRIST I EVER KNEW!!!!"
Isn’t that a powerful statement, "She was the only Christ I ever knew!!!" What did she mean by that? What was Mary trying to say about this special person, Sally???
Our gospel lesson this morning gives a clue to this powerful statement of Mary’s. Jesus told his disciples a second time what was going to happen to him went he arrived at Jerusalem. He told them he would be delivered into the hands of men, and they would kill him and then after three days he would rise again. But unlike the he first time he said this, the disciples didn’t understand what he was saying. Instead they were working on their own agenda. They were discussing who would be first in this new kingdom that Jesus was going to begin. They were wondering who would be the ones who would sit on Jesus’ right and left hands, the places of power and authority. If we would think in terms of our modern government, they were wondering who was going to be vice-president and who was going to be sec. of state with Jesus being the president.
Jesus having sensed they didn’t understand at all about this new kingdom calls the disciples together and explains that the places of honor in this kingdom were not the places of power, fame and wealth as in other kingdoms, no, the place of honor in this kingdom who would be place of servant hood, the last place in line. Jesus was explaining to the disciples that one would sacrifice himself for the sake of the other in this new kingdom.
Then Jesus asks a child to come forward and he says that one must be as innocent, as trusting, as naive, as as this child as he serves in God’s kingdom.
Jesus was telling the disciples that one must be willing to serve out of the same kind of love that a child has for its parents, a love that is trusting, a love that is simple, a love that is accepting.
Now if we would think back to our story about Mary and Sally, we can see why Mary called Sally the only Christ I ever knew, Sally was willing to give of herself, she wasn’t willing to see only the bad side of Mary, but knew that Mary had a good side and she was going to bring it out. I imagine that at the beginning, Sally took a lot of abuse from Mary, because Mary probably didn’t understand what was going on. But the more Sally treated Mary with love, mercy and compassion, the more Mary responded, the more she came to trust, love and accept this person who was willing to risk herself to help this very unloving person. Yes, indeed, Sally was Christ for Mary. Sally was willing to give of herself so that Mary would find peace, contentment, happiness and love in her life.