Sat, 15 September 2018
(Is.50:5-9a; Ps.116:1-6,8-9; Jas.2:14-18; Mk.8:27-35)
“I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”
A simple enough statement made by our psalmist today, or so it seems. For what does it mean to walk with Jesus along the way of the Almighty God? What does such travel entail? Is it but to impart a word of peace and blessing to those in need, and continue merrily along? Is it but to say, “I have faith in God”? Words alone will not get us where we expect to be; we must walk in the way of the Lord, and to walk means to work.
And what is this work with which faith cannot dispense; what does it entail? It could not be more succinctly stated than it is by Jesus to the crowds and His disciples in today’s gospel: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” It is in the Lord’s steps we must walk, and, yes, those steps lead inevitably to crucifixion. This cannot be avoided. Do you not hear the Lord’s rebuke of Peter? Then how can you begin to explicate a life in Christ without His cross fixed firmly upon your shoulder? How can you think that “the land of the living” may be found by easy means? It cannot.
Listen to the words of the Servant spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard.” This and more the Lord did willingly to reveal the way you must walk – this all the children of Israel, all God’s holy ones, take upon themselves all for the sake of the Gospel.
But lest you lose heart in the face of all you must undergo, all the suffering you must accept to gain the kingdom, let me tell you something else. All those who take up the cross say also with the Servant, “He is near who upholds my right.” Do you hear what He says? “The Lord God is my help”! Do you understand its significance? We are with Christ and Christ is with God and so none of the blows of this world can hurt us. Indeed, they do not touch us, for it is Jesus who suffers all these blows for our sake. Though the cords may lacerate our skin, they cannot approach our soul, for the Lord indeed takes from us all “distress and sorrow” and saves our very lives. Thus the psalmist sings, “He has freed my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.” For He in whose sight we live our lives has already endured all evil, and now preserves us from its clutches. And so in this cross which seems so dark and foreboding, there is ultimate joy.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Weightless Crucifixion" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, help us to lose our lives
for the sake of the Gospel;
if we take up our cross, you will certainly defend us,
and bring us to everlasting life.
YHWH, your work accomplish in us; the path of your Son let us walk. If we walk with you unto the Cross, we shall walk with you in Heaven. If from the Cross we turn, where shall we find our salvation? It is in suffering for the sake of the kingdom we find our freedom – let us lose our lives for you and your Son’s Gospel.
We must not think as men do, dear LORD, but as your Son instructs. If we wish to come to you, we cannot follow the way of the world. You are in Heaven and if to Heaven we wish to come then die we must to this empty life. Let not the darkness of this place encompass us, let it not touch our hearts, but let us take our refuge in the death of your Son and we shall be raised from the nether world.
Buffets and spitting may be our fate in this life, but if we endure all with faith in you, with your Son we will be made strong, and be justified in His Day.