Rev. Ronald E Braxton, Senior Pastor
Metropolitan AME Church
Sunday, March 4 2012
Scripture Mark 8: 31-38 31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.35For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.36What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
A part of the scripture that is not provided is the piece where Jesus asks the Disciples: “Who do you say I am?” Peter confesses in v. 27 and 29: “Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God.” Jesus says: “It is necessary that the Son of Man be tried, found guilty by the high priests, be killed and after 3 days come back alive.” Peter objects to this Jesus and grabs Jesus in protest. Jesus scolds Peter – “Get lost! You have no idea how God works!” He gathers all the disciples together, saying: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let ME lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat – I am – don’t run from suffering – embrace it – self sacrifice is the way.”
Rev. Newton comes up with “youthful jingles” in his sermon, so I thought I’d try my version. “You Got to Go Through It to Get To It!”
Last night a lady who had just lost everything after a tornado hit her home explained, “I have lost everything; but I’ve got my life. I’ve never been through nothing like this before, but thank God I’m on the other side of it.”
It’s one thing to go through a devastating experience, another to get to the other side. In my neighborhood, people observe the holidays with the appropriate lights. I passed a house adorned with “Happy Easter” decorations. The banner was pleasing to the eye, but I thought it a bit premature. Those neighbors skipped and bypassed the sacrifice and went straight through to Easter. Wouldn’t it be nice if parents could just bypass the 9 months of pregnancy, skip labor and delivery, and just get a nice healthy baby? But you’ve got to go through it to get to it.
Jesus was trying to explain to the Disciples that it was necessary for him to go through an ordeal of suffering, be tried by religious scholars, be killed and after 3 days, come back alive. Peter was an outspoken seaman. Peter took the great liberty to chastise Jesus for making such a statement. For Peter, Jesus had already proven that he was the Messiah – he had already fed thousands, cast out demons, cured leprosy, and raised the dead back to life. Peter could not comprehend that Jesus had to do any more – or go through that kind of suffering – to prove that he was the Messiah – it did not make sense to Peter. So Peter tried to rebuke Jesus in protest. Here is a lesson Jesus is trying to teach Peter: “Peter, your mind is not on divine things but on human things, you have no idea how God works.” There are messages for us too:
1. There are very few shortcuts to get to where God wants you to be. You have to go through some things to get to where God wants you to be. When you try to take the shortcut, you are prone to miss some lessons that will be beneficial to you down the road. Maybe during the conversation in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was asking God: “Is there a shortcut to what I have to go through?” But God was saying, no you have to go through betrayal, denial, crucifixion – you’ve got to go through it to get new life.
2. When you put Jesus in the driver’s seat of your life he will show you how to live through whatever the world throws at you. Jesus tells the disciples: “Don’t run from suffering – embrace it! Take up the cross. Follow me and I’ll show you how to go through it!”
Bros and Sisters, a whole lot of us in here this morning – admit it or not – are going through something. An illness, no job or a bad job – and let me caution you to keep the bad job until you get the other job. A family crisis, a downward emotional or psychological spin, or just a bad time/place in your life. Somebody in here is going through something this morning. The promise of Jesus is that, if we lose ourselves/follow/serve him, he will show us how to get through it. And the way he shows me how to get through it may not be the way he’ll show you how to get through it – but if you hold on to him, lose your life in him, he’ll show you how to get through it.
One of the things I’ve learned is that God’s grace and mercy has gotten me through every turn, every snare. God was not always in the places where I thought He would have been, but in the moments and places where I thought God would be absent, I am a witness that – whatever burdens you’re bearing or have been through, His strength/power/grace/mercy/love is sufficient to get you through. In his footsteps you must walk every day. When the storm clouds rise in your life, when disaster/sickness/death follow you – don’t fight it – Jesus said “EMBRACE IT, and I’ll show you how to walk through it.”
“Embrace it” – that’s a tough lesson to learn. It’s not a lesson that says “sit on your do-nothing and do nothing.” Or “Pray, go home, go to bed, pray some more.” It’s a lesson that says: “Do everything you can do by the example of Christ.” Christ never stopped. He knew what was ahead, he knew he had to suffer, but he kept on healing and saving lives, until he got through it.
I like the fact that Jesus does not end the text on a sour note. He says “I gotta go through some bad times.” But like the woman who had lost everything but her life, there is the other side. I skipped over the part of the text where it says – “…and after 3 days, I’ll rise up ALIVE.” The scripture is saying: Jesus had to go through it to rise up and go to it!
I don’t know about you, but I know that God does work in ways that are mysterious to us. We ought to stop telling God the way to bless us; we ought to stop telling God what the other side is supposed to look like, because God knows what we are going through. And God has prepared a brighter day, and a better way. God has already opened the door and made a better way, and there is a bright side for you. So don’t give up, don’t throw in the towel, don’t hang it up, don’t you stop until you get to it!!
Whatever you are going through – there’s nothing too big or too small to take to God. Whatever you are going through, it’s just a season. It’s YOUR season to go through it. If you’re not going through something now, you may have been spared, but YOUR season is coming to go through something. Know that whenever – or whatever – you are going through, there is a better/brighter day coming.