Second Sunday in Lent

by Crossings

Peter’s Problem — Ours TOO
Mark 8:31-38
Second Sunday in Lent
analysis by Ed Schroeder

The number 52 above signals that this every-Saturday essay has gone out into cyber-space for one full year. If you are one who was there at the outset, you might want to consider if once around the calendar isn’t enough already. Although the total number of receivers for #52 is 150-plus, not all of the pioneers from a year ago have stayed on board. If you too should wish for temporary or permanent “rest” from Sabbatheology, just say so and we’ll oblige.
The Gospel for the Second Sunday in Lent (Feb. 23) is Mark 8:31-38. The other two readings in the Revised Common Lectionary are both about Abraham. First is Gen. 17:1-7, 15-17, one of God’s covenant conversations with Abraham. The second lesson for the day is Paul’s own commentary on those conversations in Romans 4:13-25. Might we say that Romans 4 is the first patently Christian reading of the Abraham story that we know of, consciously done through the lenses of the new hermeneutic of the crucified and risen Jesus? In Galatians 4 Paul articulates this “new hermeneutic” for reading Abraham in considerable detail.
For preaching on Feb. 23 this twin set of texts on Abraham might be too good to pass by.
Nevertheless, the matrix offered here is for the day’s Gospel, Mk. 8:31-38. I’ve added verse 9:1 to the pericope, lest this lonesome verse fall through the crack between this text and Mark’s subsequent Transfiguration pericope.

PETER’S PROBLEM — OURS TOO — ACCORDING TO JESUS’ OWN DIAGNOSIS

The Symptoms
STAGE 1. LIVING BY THE AXIOM OF SAVING YOUR OWN LIFE

  1. Wanting to save your life.
  2. Rebuking Jesus about his suffering, i.e., his not saving his own life;
  3. Gaining the world, going for “profit” in the business of daily life;
  4. Asserting, not denying, self. “Dropping” the cross.

The Deeper Infection
STAGE 2. BOGUS DISCIPLESHIP, NOT FOLLOWING JESUS, SWITCHING SIDES

  1. Being Satan’s disciple;
  2. On man’s, not God’s, side;
  3. Ashamed of Jesus and his Word about the Cross, rejoining the evil/adulterous generation;
  4. Already “tasting death without seeing the Kingdom of God,” seeing what God is up to in Jesus.

Where Such Sickness Winds Up
STAGE 3. LOST, SHAMED AT THE END

  1. Losing our life, a guaranteed loser with God;
  2. Forfeiting our life, having had it once as Jesus’ disciple, and then “blowing” it.
  3. Son of Man ashamed of us when he comes in the glory of his Father;
  4. Tasting death fully and finally without ever having “seen” God’s Kingdom (God’s new mercy-management operations in Christ).

A NEW PROGNOSIS

Christ Appropriates Our Sickness to Heal Us
STAGE 4. THE GOSPEL (v. 35): A WINNER FOR LOSERS.

  1. The Kingdom of God coming in power (9:1) in the crucified and Eastered Jesus;
  2. The Ochlos Messiah, a Messiah for losers;
  3. The good news of the cross: Winning by Losing. He saves our lives by losing his own.

Healing the Deeper Infection
STAGE 5. FAITH: SWITCHING BACK TO TRUSTING THE OCHLOS MESSIAH

  1. “Having in mind the things of God.” “Seeing” the Kingdom of God in the Ochlos Messiah.
  2. Denying our self-saving schemes, and instead taking up our cross (= taking the cross-option as what we trust for our own lives);
  3. Confiding in (instead of being ashamed of) the Messiah-for-losers “and [his] words.”
  4. Confidence in facing the Son of Man’s next coming in his Father’s glory

Living With New Symptoms
STAGE 6. WINNING BY LOSING IN ONE’S OWN LIFE

  1. The cost of discipleship is winning by losing in the world;
  2. Following, cross-bearing, confessing Christ before our own evil/adulterous generation;
  3. “Standing here (=any venue in the world) and seeing the Kingdom of God coming with power.”

Peace and Joy! Ed

P.S. For Lent 1996 a local publisher, Creative Communications for the Parish, printed a booklet of daily devotions from my hand. There are a few (thousands?) left over. If you want one, I’ll send it snail-mail, but do so pronto before too much more of Lent ’97 passes by. That means that I’ll need your postal address to do so. ehs

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