This morning’s sermon is expository, it will expound, bring out the meaning as best the preacher can of a particular passage, and it’s our Gospel reading of Mark 9.30-37, which is why the verses are left in so you can follow me through. Follow me though, as always in Church, with both heart and mind.
It’s the middle section of Mark’s gospel we’ve been following in Year B of the liturgical cycle since Advent 2014. It’s a Gospel you can read in a hurry of a Jesus in a hurry – the shortest Gospel of a man with a mission! When you pick up Mark – and there are some free copies at the back – you see he’s no time for genealogies and birth narratives, angels, shepherds and wise men. For Mark on p1 its straight in – this is the good news of Jesus Christ the Son of God. Repent and believe! It’s real and it matters.
Today engaging with that reality we’ve moved from p1 to p27, half way through the 52 pages of the paperback Mark’s Gospels on offer at the back, the ninth of the 16 Chapters and verse 30 which you could read aloud with me on p… of the eucharist booklet.
After leaving the mountain 30 Jesus and his disciples went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it;
· Move forwards with Jesus from the Transfiguration to Calvary: Jesus the great trail blazer making human beings a joyful path to God.
· Crowd falls back to leave Jesus with disciples: ’true discipleship’ Value of the Jesus Prayer.
· Marcan secrecy: one commentator: humility to not wish a great fanfare about his obviously successful ministry. His directives to silence about his great accomplishments may be no more than an example to the faithful not to blow their own horns. It proves the reliability of the Gospel as it’s hard to imagine a made up story of Jesus with such emphasis.
31for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.’ 32But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
· First chapters show us who Jesus is. Now, moving into why God sent him and what it means to us as disciples we have a second prediction of the passion following last Sunday’s in Chapter 8 that we missed to keep St Giles.
· Paradoxes – things that contradict in logic to be held together in experience. Creation (out of nothing ), Trinity (Unity) founded on life (through death) = Son of Man (Son of God).
· Jesus not a physically compelling Messiah but a suffering servant morally compelling Saviour. A sign of contradiction – the disabled people who spoke out to help defeat the Assisted Dying Bill two weeks back.
· 'Without God's Word as a lens, the world warps’ Ann Voskamp ‘I wear the lens of the Word and all the world transfigures into the beauty of Christ’.
33Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ 34But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’
· Post-Transfiguration jealousies set disciples against one another
· Jesus sees into their and our hearts- can show up what’s needful
· Village plan jostling of self interest with altruism
· Alexander Schmemann - the signs of pride are: the absence of joy, complexity and fear. Signs of humility: joy, simplicity, trust
· Those who serve others have a joy about them, they are the greatest
· How do we get there? ‘Know yourself, love yourself, forget yourself’ (the discipline of Christian meditation which takes us out of ourselves in contemplation – drop by Church and use prayer sheet )
36Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37 ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’
Paradox of child centred society cf ancient culture and many other cultures which gave or give children no legal rights. Christian legacy.
· Striking act of Jesus to take the most powerless and exalt them
· Who are the powerless around us? Who are those most in need of our help? The half million who supported Jeremy Corbyn whatever we make of that – do we have 2nd class citizens? We do. Those without money – no holidays (FSW Give a Child a Holiday). Those who can’t leave room or home through age or disability. Those refugees. The young struggling for a job.
· Last verse shows Jesus before us in the powerless: Whoever welcomes one such ....in my name welcomes me. Cf Matthew 25 Jesus ‘in the least ’
To see this we need the insight, or spectacles of holy scripture: 'Without God's Word as a lens, the world warps’
· We need the sense of Jesus before us that the eucharist schools us in.
· Blessed and praised be Jesus Christ upon his throne of glory, in the holy scriptures, in the most holy sacrament of the altar, in the hearts of the needy and in the hearts of all his faithful people.