Friday 26th March 2021
I will always remember a conversation I had with a lady who told me how hurt she felt over her father’s death. Her father was an elder in the kirk. He had a deep faith and was highly active in the local community. Sadly, he developed a rather nasty form of cancer and despite all her prayers died well before his time. The daughter could not understand how God could allow such a horrible thing to happen to such a good man. She was heartbroken and as a result, lost her faith, left the church and for a long time nurtured a deep sense of anger, hurt and disappointment. It was only some years later that she found healing and faith was restored.
Mark 8: 31-38
Jesus Foretells His Death
He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.
He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns." Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."
Like a child who has just dropped their ice-cream, every Christian will at some point feel disappointed. We will be disappointed with the church, possibly feel let down by the congregation or minister. And we will be disappointed with God. We feel disappointed when our prayers go unanswered, when events and circumstances do not work out as we anticipate or intend. A lot of this can be due to misplaced expectation.
Our reading from Mark’s Gospel contains a stern rebuke issue by Jesus to Peter. Jesus speaks about his coming death, but Peter pulls him aside and we assume tries to change Jesus’ mind. The lesson here is clear. Peter did not understand what needed to happen. From the moment of his birth, Jesus was destined to die on the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of humanity. Peter did not know this, understand this, or appreciate this.
How many of us are like Peter? We do not fully understand the ways of God. And we have misplaced expectations. The Christian life is if course a blessed life. It is life in all its fulness. But it is not a life free from troubles. Rather, it is to follow Jesus, best as we are able, until we are fully united with him and those who have gone before us in eternity. This life is but a temporary stay. We do not belong here. Heaven is our permanent place of resident.
What does it mean to have our expectations of God, shaped by eternity?
How does this change our perspective on life and the problems and pain we each face?
If our greatest need had been information,
God would have sent us an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology,
God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money,
God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure,
God would have sent us an entertainer.
Bur our greatest need was forgiveness,
So God sent us a saviour.
The God of peace,
who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
that great shepherd of the sheep,
through the blood of the eternal covenant,
make you perfect in every good work to do his will,
working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight;
and the blessing of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit be with you forevermore