Sermon on Mark 8:27-38 for September 16, 2018, Pentecost +17B Audio Version here
Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
When I lived overseas, one morning I left the house to go to the corner market for bread and milk, but it was closed. So I walked a couple of blocks up to the larger market area, but instead of bustling, it was deserted. It took a while to become aware that it was a state holiday.
There is a strange rule that seems to be in effect everywhere: “What everybody knows, nobody says.” For example, you would never think to tell your neighbor that there is no school on Christmas; we all know it.
The same thing happens when we read the bible. Sometimes the curtain is lifted a little and we get a peek at how Jesus and the disciples lived, like when we hear that Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath, “as was his custom” we learn that Jesus was a regular at synagogue worship. (Luke 4:16)
Similarly, we know that Jesus went off to pray at night, and Luke tell us that Jesus “would withdraw to deserted places and pray” (Luke 5:16) which means that he did that customarily; it was part of his spiritual practice. But we are never told what he did in those long nights of prayer. We are not given a method.