So stop. Listen. Attend to the word of God.
In the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Please sit.
Now, today’s scripture is is very exciting, it’s dramatic, the heavens open now who can tell me what was the last time? Fairly recently we had a
gospel where the heavens opened. What was it? The heavens opened and God said, This is my son, Susan? The baptism of Jesus Christ. Exactly. So the baptism of Jesus Christ – and this reading appears exactly halfway through.
This this reading appears exactly halfway through, Mark. It is placed equidistant between the baptism and Jesus death on the cross. It’s exactly halfway through. And if you remember me telling you when you hit a piece of scripture that you are struggling to work with, I tell you to look at two things, especially in the Gospels. The first is its position within the gospel.
What comes before it, what comes after it, how does it fit within the broad narrative? And I also tell you to look at the geography of what’s going on. And in Mark’s gospel, the geography plays a really, really big part in the narrative. And so at the first instance, what we have is a very straightforward reading. Well, this is evidence of Jesus divinity. This is Jesus taking his disciples to the top of a hill and and God saying, this is my son.
Listen to him. That’s that’s the top reading of this gospel, and in many ways, you might want to say, well, that’s enough, isn’t it? That’s quite enough. The gospel today in the second week of Lent is a straightforward reminder that Jesus Christ is the son of God. But why are we being told this now, why are we being given this gospel, this story at this point in Lent? Well, it’s the same reason it happens to the disciples at this point.
And so we have the wonderful Peter, poor Peter, poor Peter. And I always feel sorry for him because he’s the one that gets pulled around. He’s the one I almost feel like when I’m reading reading the Gospels because he’s just so excited by Jesus and what’s going on. And he wants to be right and he wants to be part of this amazing thing that’s happening with Jesus Christ.
And don’t forget, just before this reading in Mark 8, we’ve had Peter recognise who Jesus is for the first time. So Peter has replied to Jesus when Jesus says, Who do you think I am? Peter has said, You are the Christ. And then Peter gets really, really excited with that and gets carried away in Jesus, that has to calm him down a bit and in fact goes as far as to say, get behind me, Satan, in the very next few verses.
And then almost immediately, again, we’ve got Jesus taking Peter up a mountain. Peter seeing something amazing. Jesus glowing white and Moses and Elijah appearing with him, Moses the Law, Elijah the Prophets, what he’s telling his disciples here is that Jesus is the fulfilment of the law and the fulfilment of the prophets. This was really, really important stuff, because what we are being told here is that this is a continuation of God’s revelation in the world.
This is the continuance of God’s story to us. This isn’t something new. This isn’t something different. This isn’t something that’s happening over there. This is part and parcel of God’s revelation that started all the way back in Genesis. It’s the same story. It’s part of that continuation.
And so Peter, love him, gets excited by this. Now, Peter, in the previous chapters called Jesus the Christ, but here in this moment, he slips back into rabbi again.
He slips back into that human name for Jesus teacher, and he’s babbling away. Right. What can we do? What can we do? Jesus is here. Let’s build let’s build three houses. That’s what shall we do. You know, he’s so frightened. He’s so overwhelmed by what he’s seeing that he doesn’t know how to react. And this is where Peter and I are very alike and he’s excited, he says, right, we’ve got to do something, we have to do something.
We will build three houses for you. Let’s do something. Jesus says, no, no, no, no, no, it’s OK, just just take a breath, calm down. And look at what’s going on. Appreciate the wonder and the amazement of what has just happened, the heavens have opened. God have said, this is my son, listen to him. That’s the message of today’s gospel, listen to him. And so at this point in Lent, the second week of Lent, we have perhaps got caught up in the doing of giving something up or taking something up or doing our prayers or whatever it is that we have set up for Lent.
And the message today is, listen. Listen to my son. Listen to what he has to tell you. Now, God and Jesus understand that that is hard for us to necessarily take on board and actually do something real in our lives with that. And in fact, he understands that even the disciples, even the disciples who have walked alongside Jesus Christ, who have seen these amazing signs, who have even recognised that Jesus is the son of God, even the disciples don’t yet get it.
They don’t yet have the full story and we get that as we get to the end of our gospel where Jesus says, do not talk about this with anybody else. And the reason Jesus is telling them not to talk about this with anybody else is because the story is not yet complete. The story of Jesus Christ is not that he is the son of God. The story of Jesus Christ is that he was born amongst us. He lived his life as one of us.
He died for us on the cross. And he came back for us. You have to take Jesus in that whole story, and so far the disciples have not heard that whole story and that last little line is really, really telling, although they talked about themselves, about, what could rising from the dead mean?
So two things to take away from today’s gospel, the first is stop worrying about doing. And as laudable as that is and as wonderful as it is to get excited about a life in Jesus Christ, stop worrying about that so much and be attentive to the word of God.
Listen. Listen to what Jesus has to say about you. And the second thing to take away is that you don’t know the whole story yet, you don’t know the full revelation of Christ in your life yet. You will only know that when you stand face to face with God in the final days. Don’t think you’ve got it worked out. You don’t none of us do.
So stop. Listen. Attend to the word of God.