Our February 28 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. We are excited to say that our Sunday 8 & 10:30 am services are open again for in-person worship. Services will continue to be streamed online.
The March 7 Sunday worship service and March 3 Wednesday Lent service will be held with in-person attendance. We have returned to regular in-person worship services. We will still be wearing masks, social distancing and lots of hand sanitizer, but we will be open.
We are glad to share our worship with you. Click on “Contact Us” above to find out more about our faith family and what we believe.
February 28 Sermon
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 | Psalm 22:22-30
Romans 4:13-25 | Mark 8:31-38
We have Jesus’ rebuke of Peter, Why? I’ve always thought that this text is very interesting, because it shows us just how quickly we can get out of line. Even Peter, the “Greatest of the Apostles,” has really messed up. The text is situated just after the verses which we commonly call, “Peter’s Confession.” Peter has just been declared by Jesus as being blessed by God, who has revealed to Peter; and through him to all who are listening, or reading, that Jesus is in fact the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
Now, right after those words, we pick up with today’s Gospel text. Jesus begins to tell Peter, and the other disciples, just what it means to be the Son of God or the Son of Man. It means suffering, rejection, death; and being raised on the third day (they seem to have missed that last part). These verses are the first prediction by Jesus of his upcoming Passion.
Unfortunately, these are all things (with the possible exception of the part about being raised on the third day, but they didn’t understand that anyway), which they don’t want to hear, especially Peter. Peter acts as the spokesman, really, for the whole group. “We don’t want to hear about all of this. This isn’t what we are expecting. You are the Messiah. Your job is to take over the kingdom, gather your troops, as God’s chosen agent for his people, and get rid of these nasty, pagan Romans who are oppressing God’s chosen people, and polluting God’s holy land.” But, this is how most Jews felt in Jesus’ time. That is how most of the disciples felt. Especially the group called the Zealots, (yes there were Zealots who followed Jesus) and how Peter feels. “Let’s have no more talk about suffering and death, let’s talk about moving on to victory!” War rhetoric is always the same. This talk about suffering and death will only confuse the masses.
Actually, it comes from a confused idea about the Messiah. There were two Messiah’s foretold: The Military vs. the Priestly. Most people were looking for the Military Messiah, who would do just what Peter and the Zealots desired. They had largely forgotten about the Priestly Messiah. Yet, it is the Priestly Messiah’s role the Jesus fulfills. We tend over the years to develop our own understandings of things, whether or not they are right. When it comes to God and religion, we are very often wrong. My favorite Gallop poll several years ago was on why reporters so often get religious stories wrong, the results were that they don’t understand what is really taking place. It turned out that the reporters not only didn’t understand the answers that they got to religious questions, they didn’t even understand the questions themselves! Someone needs to go to Sunday School. It is the same for most people. We don’t really know what God is doing, at least until it is over. Usually, if we think we do know, that is when we are most likely to be wrong. There is a simple rule: If it is something we are in favor of, we are probably wrong. If it is something which we are dead set against, then, it is probably what God wants, especially if it is going to require us to change something about ourselves.
Well, things go badly for Peter. In the great scheme of things, it doesn’t matter what Peter wants, or how Peter believes. What does matter is what God is about to do. And that is something that nobody is going to stop. God’s vision is greater than ours. God’s want is greater than Peter’s. God’s plan is greater than anything else we can imagine.
And so, Peter is rebuked. But, he is rebuked for his sake. God is going to fulfill His plan in Jesus with or without Peter’s consent. Peter is rebuked so that he may understand and take part in that greater plan. Peter is rebuked, so that he might deny himself, his wants and desires. And having denied himself, he can then take up the cross which Christ has for him, and live his life for Christ’s sake. For having then denied himself, and taken up Christ, Peter, and we, can rest assured in the words that Christ will not deny us before his Father in heaven.
That is what Paul means in, “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.” By denying ourselves, and throwing ourselves completely upon faith in Jesus Christ, we receive the forgiveness of our sins, salvation, by the grace of God, through the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ our Lord, whose example we especially follow during this Season of Lent, and so are claimed as children of God. Praise be to God!