Summary: Sermon for the Second Sunday in Lent, Year B
February 28, 2021
Hope Lutheran Church
Rev. Mary Erickson
The Lost and Found
Friends, may grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Most public places have a lost and found. Schools, churches, grocery stores, bus stations. Somewhere they have a box stowed with random things: the orphaned mitten, the lonely earring, the sad teddy bear waiting for its child to return. Lost items of greater value are placed in a more secure place. The billfold left on the counter, the ring absently left beside the sink, these get placed in a locked drawer.
Jesus says today that we might lose something even more significant than a billfold full of cash. We can lose our soul. Where do they go, lost souls? Sometimes we’ll say that about a person. “He’s a lost soul.” Where is the lost and found for lost souls?
Jesus announces to his disciples that his ministry is just about to shift gears. He’s moving from the Galilee region and headed for Jerusalem. He has an appointment with the chief priests and elders. Peter had understood Jesus to be the long-promised Messiah of Israel. Jesus was the anointed heir of his ancestor, King David. If Jesus is Jerusalem-bound, then he’s headed for his throne as the king of Israel.
In Peter’s eyes, Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem would lead to his ascension as king. But Jesus says otherwise. When he gets there, Jesus says he’ll be rejected by the Jewish leadership. He’s going to be killed and put in a grave. And then in three days, he’ll rise to new life.
Peter couldn’t hear it. Jesus was headed for his throne, not to a grave! Peter says, “God forbid, Lord! Don’t talk like that!”
Jesus responds with a shocking reply. His words couldn’t be more extreme: “Get behind me, Satan!”
Peter’s expectations for the Messiah aren’t aligned with Jesus’ plan. Jesus presents a radically new vision of the Messiah. He doesn’t come for glory and power. This Messiah has come to suffer and die for the sake of the world. He’s come to take up his cross.
Peter’s brand of thinking is still alive and well today in Christianity. It’s called a Theology of Glory. In a Theology of Glory, things are getting brighter and rosier. Believe in God, and you’ll be blessed! God takes delight in a believer. Good things come to God’s faithful believers: health, financial blessings, a happy family. The more we align our lives to God’s purpose, the more divine blessings will shower upon us! Faith leads to our success.
But this Theology of Glory is contrasted by a Theology of the Cross. In a Theology of the Cross, God’s connection to this world isn’t a ten-step Bible study to a better life. It finds its fulfillment in the cross.
To a mind set on glory, like Peter’s, the cross is foolishness. But Jesus points to a higher wisdom. The cross is going to be the vehicle through which we understand the love of God. God’s love will be made manifest not through strength, but in weakness. As Jesus meets his destiny on his cross, there we see the tremendous lengths God has taken to redeem and save a fallen and lost humanity. Salvation is in the cross. Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
When we are at our weakest, when we have absolutely nothing we can offer up to our own credit, then and only then will we have eyes to see all that Christ has taken on for us. It’s a love that will go anywhere and do anything – indeed, a love that DID go everywhere and DID accomplish everything – for our sake! This love is made perfect in its weakness.
Jesus says to Peter, “Get behind me!” Peter wants to take Jesus by the hand and lead him in a different direction. But you can’t FOLLOW Jesus if you want only to LEAD him. To follow Jesus, you have to get behind him. You have to go where he goes.
There was a certain Wisconsin family who lived on a dairy farm. It was winter, and about five inches of fresh snow had fallen overnight. In the morning, the father and his 10-year-old son took off to lead their herd to the barn to be milked. The cows had spent the night in a field.
That morning, the father and son both put on their galoshes. They headed out to the field where the cows were located. The father led the way. He crossed the farm yard and headed for the meadow.
His son walked directly behind his father. He was careful to place his feet inside the footprints his father had just created in the snow. After the two of them had crossed the yard and arrived at the meadow gate, there was only one set of footprints to be seen.