Summary: A sermon for the 2nd Sunday in Lent Take up your cross
2nd Sunday in Lent
The Less Traveled Road
31 And he began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.
33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter, and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men."
34 And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
35 For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
36 For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?
37 For what can a man give in return for his life?
38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ.
Robert Frost wrote:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as far that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden back,
O, I kept the first for another day!
Yet, knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The less traveled road can be the more difficult road, but at the same time it can be the most wondrous road. The less traveled road can be filled with wonder as only a few have seen what lie in its path. The less traveled road can be filled with excitement as the unexpected can lie beyond each bend.
Jesus is talking about the less traveled road in our gospel lesson this morning. Jesus begins teaching the disciples about what is going to happen next in his ministry. Jesus tells the disciples that the son of man, Jesus himself, must suffer many things, be rejected by all the religious rulers and die and then rise on the third day.
This was the less traveled road of the cross, of suffering, of dying. This is the less traveled road of the theology of the cross. This is the less traveled road of dying for the sake of the good news.
And then Peter stopped Jesus in his tracks and said what a minute. This can’t be right. You can be telling us that this is the way of God. Peter is saying this because he has traveled the wrong path, the path that says success, power and glory are the way of the world and the way of God. Not death, not the cross!
Walt Wangerin in his The Book of God describes this event from Peter’s point of view, as follows:
"He [Jesus] said, "Things are going to change now." He heaved a sigh. We all were moving with him now toward the little spring of water. He said, "I have to go to Jerusalem. When I get there, I will suffer many things from the elders and the chief priests and the scribes. I’m telling you now so that you need not be surprised when it happens. It will happen."
Jesus knelt down by the spring, cold from the earth. He made a cup of his hands and scooped water. Just before he started to drink, he said, "I will be killed in Jerusalem, and on the third day be raised --"
I spoke again. I said the most natural thing there was to say.
Well, my feelings were so hurt by Jesus’ words. Be *killed*? Was this the gloomy thing he’d been thinking about all the time?
I grabbed his wrist and shouted, "No!" The water splashed from his hands.
"No, God won’t allow it!" I cried.
On account of my feelings, I was gripping him with all my strength. But he started to pry my fingers from his wrist. He had terrible power in his hands.