Year B Lent 1 Mark 1 2012
Would You Take The Crown Without The Cross?
The local sheriff was looking for a deputy, and one of the applicants - who was not known to be the brightest academically, was called in for an interview. "Okay," began the sheriff, "What is 1 and 1?" "Eleven," came the reply. The sheriff thought to himself, "That's not what I meant, but he's right."
Then the sheriff asked, "What two days of the week start with the letter 'T'?" "Today & tomorrow." Replied the applicant. The sheriff was again surprised over the answer, one that he had never thought of himself.
"Now, listen carefully, who killed Abraham Lincoln?", asked the sheriff. The job seeker seemed a little surprised, then thought really hard for a minute and finally admitted, "I don't know." The sheriff replied, "Well, why don't you go home and work on that one for a while?" The applicant left and wandered over to his pals who were waiting to hear the results of the interview. He greeted them with a cheery smile, "The job is mine! The interview went great! First day on the job and I'm already working on a murder case!"
In our Gospel reading this morning in Mark 1 it is Jesus' first day on the job. Immediately he is confronted with three major temptations. And he is confronted with this basic question: Would he take the crown without the cross?
These are basic temptations in life. These three temptations form the foundation for all other temptations. And I would propose that when temptations come our way; if we will pause and classify the temptations, identify them with one of the three temptations Jesus faced; we will be equipped to answer Satan with the words and obedience of Christ.
Let's look at the three temptations:
- Stone into Bread: The temptation to use power for the wrong purposes.
- Jump on the Rocks: The Temptation to gain popularity by performance.
- Serve The Wrong Master: The temptation to idolatry.
Are You Doing Time On the Bench?
"Startle us, O God."
For 26 years, John Buchanan has pastored one of the most prestigious Presbyterian churches on the North American continent: Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, Illinois. Almost every service at which Dr. Buchanan presided, he began and closed each worship service with these words of beginning and benediction:
Startle us, O God, with your truth,
and open our hearts and our minds to your word,
that hearing, we may believe, and believing trust our lives,
this day and all the days that lie ahead,
to your love in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Go into the world in peace and courage.
Hold to the good.
Honor all of God's children.
Love and serve the Lord,
rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.
Based on 1 Thessalonians 5:13-22
Have we been startled these past few weeks, or what? Here is the name of one startlement: Jeremy Lin.
This first Sunday of the Lenten season is ushered in by the twin stories of Jesus' baptism and his immediate testing in the wilderness. Jesus goes from an all time high — his baptism, a moment where he is joyously proclaimed "my Son, the Beloved," and praised that with him God the Father is "well pleased" — to being run out into the wilderness with the wild animals.
Jesus' baptism is a watershed moment of divine delight and blessing. It is an anointing of power and prestige as never before, an acknowledgment of Jesus' messianic status.
And then Jesus is flushed. Jesus goes from being heralded from the heavens to being banished to the boondocks. The "wilderness" is biblical shorthand for the outskirts of acceptance. The edge of acceptability. The place where those who have no place are banished.
You know the place. We've all spent time wandering in that wilderness...