The Holy Gospel: September 16, 2012 (Year B)

Read:  Mark 8:27-38

Meditation:  “From Confession to Call”

When I visited the Holy Land, one of the most moving places for me was Caesarea Philippi, the place where today’s lesson occurred.

I have always viewed this exchange between Jesus and his disciples as the “watershed moment” for both Jesus and for them.  For Jesus, it was the fulcrum that allowed him to begin to talk about his upcoming death and resurrection.  For the apostles, it was their moment to realize more deeply what following Jesus would actually mean.

Peter made the great confession, and followed it with the great blunder, precisely because the “turning point” came on him too quickly and contained ramifications he could not assimilate without first passing through his own resistance.

The journey was moving to understand that to confess Jesus (“you are the Christ”) is to be called by him (“take up his cross and follow me”).

They had heard “follow me” before (i.e. Mark 1:17), but now the word “cross” was added to the following.  And it is inevitable that we also will discover in some kind of watershed moment that our following is “cross-shaped.”

But what in the world is my “cross?”  Well, most importantly notice Jesus did not say “take up my cross.”  We are not called to carry the cross of Christ—that is, to be our own saviors.  Redemption is the gift of grace, not grit.  Self-salvation efforts only break us.

Jesus says, “carry his cross”—-my cross.  Each of us has a cross.

It is not, as some may say, having to put up with an obnoxious colleague or even battling a serious disease.  These may be sufferings—deep sufferings, but they are not my cross.

Jesus cross was his mission—his life purpose—his vocation.  And that’s what our cross is as well.  We follow Jesus in a deeper way when we take our lives and live them for his glory—when we live vocationally.

If we do not do this, we will forever live as two people—my every-day self and my Sunday self—my work self and my church self.  The call to take up our cross and follow Jesus is the call to become “one person”—a person who uses every moment and every dimension of our one life—and does it for Jesus.

Like Peter, we must be brought to the place where we see that in every confession there is a call.

About jstevenharper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 31 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
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One Response to The Holy Gospel: September 16, 2012 (Year B)

  1. Gary says:

    This is where my sermon on the Gospel was going too, Steve. We are called to carry a post-resurrection cross, by which we are aided by the Holy Spirit. Well at least I was going to preach on it, but the events in Libya and Egypt have me leaning towards the passage from James. Free Speech (the tongue) is a powerful thing and we must use our powers for good! Thanks for this ministry, my friend. Blessings!

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