Sunday 25th February

Read Mark 8: 31 – 38 and Genesis 17: 1 – 7, 15 – 17

Reflection – You’re having a laugh!

‘You’re having a laugh Jesus!’ You can imagine Peter holding his stomach laughing!  ‘Have we left everything to follow you, pinned all our hopes on you, and a vision of the future in which all our dreams of freedom and change – good news for the poorest, like us – only for you to tell us that you’re going to be killed and we’ll be left rudderless and rootless? Don’t make me laugh Jesus!’

Peter is severely tested. He thinks of his needs for security and direction. He’s made a commitment to follow Jesus, wherever the road takes him. He’s suppressed his past and treasured a bright vision of the future. No wonder Peter rebuked Jesus!

‘Not on your nelly Jesus. You’re not doing this to us, this isn’t what we signed up for, this is difficult beyond words. You’re having a laugh Jesus. There’s got to be another less costly way than this. This is too much, too tough’.

Peter’s need for security and self-preservation pop up like a ‘whack a mole’ game at a fun fair, and Jesus is quick to hit the target.

Jesus had met ‘the Satan’ before – in the desert where he was tested and tempted and forced to reflect and consider what would motivate him – what would drive his ministry. Would it be greed, power, wealth, status? Or a way of sacrifice – siding with the poorest and least, turning the tables on the powerful and rich – the costly way?

And Jesus recognises temptation again, as Peter tries to deflect him from his work, his faithfulness and obedience to God’s call and his way of service to others. Jesus refuses to succumb to this fresh temptation to disobey God. He will not focus on human ambition, rather he will trust in divine providence – God’s promises.

‘Get behind me Satan’.

Despite the sacrifices he must make, the challenges and choices he will face, Jesus will remain obedient to his promise to God and, through sacrifice and obedience, he will establish a new community that will follow his more generous way of self-giving, loving kindness to others, a way that requires followers to let go of selfish ambition for the sake of the good news about God’s, generous, inclusive and broad reaching purposes for all humankind.

God’s promises are serious. How serious are you about keeping your promises, your side of the covenant, to live a life that mirrors the faithfulness and obedience of Abraham, Sarah and Jesus?

In this election year, vote in obedience to God – as though your loved ones are the poorest, most marginalised, oppressed and disadvantaged people. Who will speak up for them… if not you?

Use this Lent, not to give something up, but to spend time, as Jesus did, to seriously reflect on and consider what it is that motivates and drives you as a follower of Christ – and then, do something about it!

Revd Janine