Easter Saturday Sanity Ride


Here’s where I stopped to take a picture today.  I’ve got a lot of stuff to get done, and I’ve been having trouble focusing on the tasks I need to accomplish.  I took a maybe 12 – 14 mile ride this afternoon to clear my head.  I feel hopeful when I’m riding a bike or paddling a kayak. 

Tomorrow is Easter, and I am reminded that because the Christ reaped what I have sewn, I won’t have to. In fact, as my friend Tony remarked earlier today, in many important respects, God’s providence in my life has been easy to identify as good.

Sunday’s Sermon

The text I spoke about was Mark 8:27 – 38, the end of the chapter. My delivery stank. I repeated myself, and used one word when I meant another, sweated because it was hot in the pulpit, had a clever segue about wearing a necktie – the ritual noose of the Western man – but forgot it completely once I got up to speak. Here’s the passage from Kenneth Wuest’s expanded translation:

And he went out, Jesus and his disciples, into the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And along the road he kept on asking his disciples, saying to them, Who do men say that I am? And they told him, saying, John the Baptizer, and others, Elijah, and others, one of the prophets. And he himself kept on questioning them, But as for you, who are you saying that I am? Answering, Peter says to him, As for you, you are the Christ. And he strictly charged them that they should not tell even one person concerning Him.

And he began to be teaching them that it was necessary in the nature of the case for the son of man to suffer many things, and, after having been put to the test for the purpose of being approved should he meet the specifications, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the men learned in the sacred scriptures, and to be put to death, and after three days to arise. And with utter plainness of speech he was speaking this aforementioned word. And having taken him aside to himself, Peter began to be rebuking him. But having wheeled around and having looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, and says, Be gone under my authority and keep on going. Behind me, out of my sight, Satan, because you do not have a mind for the things of God but for the things of men.

And having called the crowd together with his disciples to himself, he said to them, If anyone is desiring to come after me as a follower of mine, let him at once begin to lose sight of himself and his own interests and let him at once begin to take up his cross and carry it, and let him start taking the same road that I travel in company with me, and let him continue to do so moment by moment. For whoever would desire to save his soul-life will lose it. But whoever will lose his soul-life for my sake and the gospel, will save it. For what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this generation which is adulterous and sinful, also the son of man shall be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his father with the angels, the holy ones.

Wuest, Kenneth. The New Testament: An Expanded Translation, Vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999.

My intended point was primarily that Christ offered his disciples and hangers-on the opportunity to live in a way that inevitably brings them into conflict with the world system in a way that system cannot ignore, forcing that system to likewise answer the question posed by Christ (”Who do yo say that I am?”) and amounts to choosing the means by which that system will answer the question by meting out public humiliation, apparent crushing defeat, and, in the ancient world at least, probable slow, painful, comfortless execution. To recap, a commitment to live in conflict, to suffer crushing defeat in the eyes of friends, family, the wider world, then probable execution. Essentially sharing the Lord’s “worst life now.”

The Lord knew the people of the land were familiar with the justice of Rome in the province of Palestine. They had surely seen the crucified displayed, smelling the stink of their rotting on whatever breeze blew themward from the place of execution. Crucifixion was not metaphor to them.

Christ, when speaking plainly to the disciples, mentioned clearly resurrection after three days dead, but it seems to have made no impression – at least upon Peter. And, although I failed to preach the resurrection as I should have on Sunday, the resurrection is the overlooked light guiding Christ’s hearers through the dark valley of his narration.

No vindication in the eyes of the world, but something altogether better upon resurrection and into eternity.