Many years ago, I started seeing WWJD bumper stickers on cars and trucks, and at first, it took me a while to figure it out. But I finally got it. What Would Jesus Do? An interesting thought. Equally interesting is the notion of What Would I Do? Or What Do I Do to follow Jesus?
In Mark’s Gospel this morning, we hear Jesus saying perhaps some strange things.
At this point Jesus is all business about his ministry here on Earth, and he questions his disciples, his friends really, what they think of him, who they think he is. Peter says, “You are the Messiah” The others said he was “John the Baptist” and “Elijah”.
And even though Jesus knew they knew who he was, he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone. Why?
Now this is very confusing to me because in our baptismal vows we are commissioned to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. What was he up to?
Perhaps he knew they would try to save him from the pain he had to go through, preventing his death and resurrection on the cross. He couldn’t allow that to happen.
Jesus then told his friends that he would have to undergo great suffering, rejection, being killed, and then in three days rise again.
What must the disciples thought at that? Peter just could not wrap his head around this at all.
I would imagine it would be like hearing your best friend, the one who is so wonderful and amazing in your life tell you that they had cancer, and planned on doing Chemo, but would still die in the end. You just couldn’t accept that reality. You wouldn’t want to even imagine life without them.
For Peter, that was the case. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
But Jesus says, “Get behind me Satan”. Does he think Peter Is evil, no, of course not...But it was a wake up call for Peter to get his head back in the game. What is the mission here? Why is Christ going to die?
Next, he calls the crowd around him to leave their lives and to follow him….Literally, give up what they are doing (the human things) and take up the cross (the divine thing)
I ask myself, could I do that if Christ had asked me? Would I take up the cross and walk into an unknown world of possible discomfort? Or would I stay in my safe and familiar world?
It’s a good question. I must say, it is much easier now that I’m older, wiser, smarter than I was when I was in my 20’s and 30’s to take the risks to speak the things in my heart and my mind. I no longer seem to be worried if I make people mad or uncomfortable. I have come to that point in my life that I like who I am and what I believe and commit myself to. Perhaps just as Jesus had committed and accepted his journey and ministry in this life...even the pain and suffering he knew he would go through.
This week in one of my English classes, we read an Op-ed by Eboo Patel, titled Making the Future Better Together. In it he quotes MLK in one of his famous sermon where he talks about Rip Van Winkle. King says that we “Must stay awake during this time of Great revolution”
I believe we are once again or perhaps still in a time of Great revolution. It is important that if we have taken up the cross of Jesus as he asks us to do that we must not stick our heads in the sand but rather to stay awake, to pay attention, to become not only followers but leaders who carry the cross High every day not just on Sundays inside this beautiful church.
In this Gospel Mark reminds us that taking up the cross can be tough. People will judge us, look down on us, and perhaps hate us. But Jesus reminds us and assured us that if we dedicate our lives to him, we will not lose our lives but instead be saved through Christ’s life.
So ask yourself: Are you awaken during this time of Great revolution or do you have your head in the sand? Are you willing to walk the talk of Jesus Christ and to do his work as part of your daily life? Or is it too difficult or uncomfortable? Just remember, Jesus knew what his lot in life was and even though it was going be filled with all sorts of pain, he kept the eye on the ball and got it done.