Monday, February 26, 2018

Talk about the Suffering

Mark 8:31-38
Lent 2
February 25, 2018

So you all know about the Messianic Secret right?
It’s how, whenever Jesus true identity as the Messiah
is revealed, he tells them not to tell anyone.
It happens a bit in other gospels,
but it’s very prevalent in the gospel of Mark.

When Jesus heals a leper, Jesus tells him
not to tell anyone, but go right to the priest
In several places, Jesus tells the unclean spirits
not to make his identity known to anyone.

After Jesus heals Jairus daughter, it says
The Fifth Station 
Isabel & Edith Piczek
he ”strictly ordered” that no one should know about this.
When he heals the man who is deaf,
he orders the people there not to say anything.
When he heals a blind man, he tells him to go straight home
and not to talk to anyone.

Later on in chapter 9, 
Jesus goes up to the mountain
he’s transfigured and he appears with Elijah and Moses,
he tells the three disciples that are there, not to tell anyone -
presumably not even the other disciples -
until after he had risen from the dead.

There are a lot of theories about it,
But there are still debates about what it means.
The Messianic Secret.

In today’s reading we have another instance.
Jesus asks the disciples “Who do you say that I am.”
And the disciples share their belief.
One of the few times they get anything right in the scriptures.
They say, “You are the Messiah.”
But again, “Jesus warns them sternly not to tell anyone about it.”

So that great news is supposed to remain a secret,
but then we get to the rest of the story.
Jesus tells everyone about how he will be rejected
by the religious leaders and suffer and die
(and then rise again, but no one paid attention to that)
and  the gospel makes the point to say,
“All this he said quite openly.”

So the miracles, healings, casting out demons,
the sky opening up, the glory of the transfiguration,
all that is a secret that we can’t tell anyone.

But the rejection by the powers that be,
the suffering and the death,
all that is shouted out to everyone.
That we can talk about.

Jesus is a PR disaster.
No wonder Peter rebukes him.
What are you doing, Jesus?
It’s like a commercial that gives a drug’s side effects,
but never tells about  the benefit of the drug.
Jesus is all secretive about the good stuff,
and the bad part he shares openly.
It’s the opposite of what you’d expect,

And I think it’s very important.

And what I think what Mark’s gospel is showing us
is that we will not understand the glory of Jesus
without first understanding the suffering of Jesus.
And the best way to understand Jesus suffering
is to experience it for ourselves.
Take up your cross and follow.

Jesus knew that people would naturally gravitate
towards someone who could perform miracles,
who was special, divine.
And he did get crowds of people
who were impressed with him gathered around him
as long as he was doing these special things.

But that’s not what Jesus wanted,
Jesus didn’t just want people who would admire him,
Jesus wanted people who would follow him
And Jesus always wanted the great and glorious things about him
to be put in the context of the cross.

Peter thought that the glory would be found in
getting more power, in impressing people,
or in forcibly taking power for themselves.
Christians have made that mistake repeatedly.
Christians try to use politics to get more power
for our religion and members.
We try to impress with flashy worship performances.
We promise people wealth, health, and safety.

But Jesus glory  is not in his ability to do miracles.
Jesus glory was not in taking power and giving it to his friends.
Jesus glory is found in him giving his life away.
Suffering for the sake of others
and this is where we find God’s glory too.

This is the way of Jesus.
Death to life.
Self-sacrifice to resurrection.
But  it’s not just  Jesus story,
Jesus means to take us with him too:
“Those who want to become my followers,
should deny themselves and take up their cross.”

We are called to suffer with other people,
to have compassion, to feel their pain and suffer with them,
We share our lives with our spouses and make compromises
that we would rather not make.
We give up things that we want or need
in order to provide for our children.
These are just the beginning.
We give our lives and time to serve people who can’t repay us.
Our hearts break with compassion for people we don’t know.

As Christians,
We purposely go to places of poverty,
of loss, of sadness, grief and illness.
We pray for people halfway around the world
We spend time in hospitals and hospices,
we go to El Salvador, Haiti, Syria,
we help other people we’ve never met.
Some people run away from it, but we  seek it out.

We do this because whenever we give ourselves to another
whenever we forget about what we want
and seek what the world needs,
Whenever we open ourselves up to others
around us and act with compassion and love, we feel  God. 
We are uplifted, we experience the divine.
Take up your cross and follow.

So when you talk about Jesus,
keep the glory and the miracles a secret, at least for a while.
Talk about the cross.
Talk about how you helped another person
Talk about how Jesus led you to a place you would have never gone.
Talk about how you found your life by giving it away.

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