Sermons 2017

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Living in The Shadow of The Cross

James and John pose a very sensible request to the man they are convinced is God’s miracle-working, truth-revealing, freedom-fighting agent on this earth. In his Gospel, Mark lets us sit in on the conversation (Mark 10:35–38):

James and John: “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”

Jesus: “What do you want me to do for you?”

James and John: “Grant that we may sit, one on your right and one on your left, in your glory.”

This is a very natural, reasonable, human request. These Jesus-followers wanted their lives to have significance; they desired meaning; they wanted to fellowship with the Lord in His glory. Don’t we all want that? And then there’s Jesus’ poetically powerful response:

Jesus: “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”

As we find out a few chapters later, that “cup”—the pathway to glory and significance—was the “cup” of suffering; the very cup about which Jesus cries, “Abba! Father...remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). The disciples wanted purpose and fulfillment; Jesus understood that the road to this was not ease, but suffering. To both ancient and modern ears this is a profound paradox: God doesn’t waste an ounce of our suffering. He is in the business of turning our pain into glory, our ashes into beauty. In the next three weeks leading up to Easter, we are going to explore this ancient wisdom as we see it painted in your living portraits. Each week we will listen to a compelling story from a member of our community.