Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.
For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?
Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?
Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
by the prayer and discipline of Lent
may we enter into the mystery of Christ’s sufferings,
and by following in his Way
may we come to share in his glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
At this stage in his ministry Jesus is thinking about the way that it is all leading. Just as we know that at the end of Lent comes Easter, so he can see that the end of his ministry leads to his death. He is heading towards Jerusalem and he can see that this will provoke a crisis between him, the leaders of the Jewish faith and the Roman authorities. There is no simple easy solution. Those were brutal times, and the authorities were not known for kindness to dissidents.
Jesus tells his disciples what will happen to him and when Peter tries to argue, he tells him that this is not something that can be negotiated away.
Then Jesus turns to his followers and explains that this is the way things will be. “If you are a follower of mine,” then there will be consequences. The history of Christianity has always involved those who have suffered for their faith. Here in these times, life is peaceful, and it is rare that Christians face oppression. But this is not the case in all parts of the world, there are places where people can face imprisonment and even death for proclaiming their faith. In the history of this country there have been the burnings and the martyrs. In Bedford, John Bunyan was imprisoned. If that seems a long time ago, then many of us will remember the troubles in Northern Ireland, where to be Catholic or Protestant could mean life or death. Strong beliefs can cause strong feelings among others.
In so far as it lies within you, live at peace with all. However, we are also called to stand by our beliefs and our faith in Jesus who died for us.
We are hoping to open our churches for worship on Easter Sunday, the 4th of April.