A Crisis

This can be listened to hear

Gate Pa – Year B  2nd Sunday in Lent, 2018


Psalm        Psalm 22:23-31                                                                          

First Reading:                    Genesis 17:1-7,15-16                     

Second Reading:              Romans 4:13-25                               

Gospel:                              Mark 8:31-38         

What I want to say:

Explore changes in our sense of who we are using the story of Abram and Sarai, and Marks Gospel and Peter. So who are we invited to be if we stand where Peter stood.

What I want to happen:

People to reflect on how the Mark story challenges our sense of who we are in Christ when Jesus says “take up your cross and follow me” to us.

The Sermon

       1.     Introduction:

6 years ago last week I had an astounding experience

my sense of self undertook severe shake up

I stood in church and was labelled a vicar

-         me!??!

-         given up any desire to have that label years ago

-         I was a youth worker

o   spent my life doing that thing

-         educator –

-         but a vicar

o   hid in my office for first few days

-         took quite a while before I felt even vaguely comfortable with that label

-         this new way of seeing myself

sure you have all had that experience

started new profession

            same kind of experience first teacher

when got engaged – felt so foreign

not how I was used to seeing myself

-> then married

when first a dad

All have these moments of crisis really

critical moments when how we see ourselves in world

and how we live in world need to be rethought to some degree

when have been some of yours?

       2.     Abram and Sarai

story from first testament is such a massive moment

Abram had son to wife’s slave – Hagar

named Ishmael –ancestor of Islam

but he and Sarai given hope of ever being parents together

Sarai past child bearing years

little bitter and angry about all this

Heard how Abram meets God

-         again given promise that his son through Sarai would be multitude

-         means by which covenant from chapter 12

-         blessed to be a blessing -> fulfilled

just imagine that moment




such moment of crisis – danger and opportunity

both given new names – Abram and Sarai

God changed Abram's "high father" name to “Abraham,” "father of a multitude" (Genesis 17:5) and his wife's name from “Sarai,” “my princess,” to “Sarah,” “mother of nations”

Do we have moments as significant as this?

-                > what new name would we have been given to reflect who we became as a result?

       3.     Cross and Crisis

our gospel story is even bigger

Peter gets given a hard time here

but he has already had a few massive moments where he had to rethink who he was

started as fisherman

then chooses to leave that life behind and to follow this new rabbi

with his amazing teaching and ability to heal

so now he is no longer a fisherman

he is a disciple – with all that entails

following behind and learning from this rabbi

after a while Jesus asks who people were saying he was

after few their answers

Jesus asks who they think he is

I suspect Peter had been building up to this new way of seeing things

but it was a real crisis point

naming Jesus messiah is a dangerous thing for everyone

that title brings down the wrath of Rome,

wrath of Herod

wrath of the rulers of the Temple – families of the chief priests.

which means Peter identity

-         sense of who he is takes severe shift

-         so much danger in this new identity

-         and yet there is so much hope and promise involved

the thrill and terror of that moment

and Jesus responds by doing 2 things

first – orders them not to tell anyone

second – teaches them about how Son of Man must suffer many things

be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes

and be killed,

and after three days rise again.

imagine being Peter in this situation

How would you respond?

moment of risky recognition

of both seeing Jesus and himself in this new light

mad hope that if this continued they would all be in places of honour and power

Jesus confirms his worst nightmare

to which Peter pushes back


this is still his rabbi

it is not his place to question him

and yet what he is saying is horrific

for everyone who is following

they have walked down the roads of crosses

they know what happens if this goes wrong

But that was the temptation

to see this all as it was expected

Jesus knew that powers of evil are only defeated by the cross

Jesus then confirms this with his astounding statement

said openly to all who will hear

no more secrecy

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

all that Peter thought he knew about himself turns to ash

       4.     Who are we in this story?

That is the invitation of Lent

to allow Jesus to speak these words to us

not nice words that we have made them into

these are words that should call into question everything that we believe about God

about Jesus

about our selves

invite you to place yourself in this story

read it again

as I read it

place yourself in place of Peter

what is Jesus saying to you?

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 aside 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 setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life[d] will lose it, but 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 soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 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.”