First Lesson Sermons For Sundays After Pentecost (First Third)
Suppose you are witness to the most remarkable event ever to transpire in the whole history of the world. You are powerfully moved to go everywhere and tell others about it. But by the highest authority you are advised not to do so. You are told to wait; the voice says: "Not yet; something else must happen first."
As you wait you wonder: What else could be so important that you must now await it, especially given the urgency of what you already know? You would like to go and tell the world of one crucified and risen; but you cannot, not yet.
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Oscar Wilde penned a powerful story about behaviors and definitions and justice called The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian was a handsome young man, a model of physical beauty and moral virtue. People complimented him on his good graces. Parents pointed to him as an example to their youth. One artist even painted an exquisite portrait of him.
"Have you seen it?" whispered the Barbie doll to her next door neighbour.
The next Barbie doll in line was instantly alert. There were five different Barbie dolls, who lived jumbled together in the toy cupboard but who were so jealous of each other that they rarely spoke. "Seen what?" asked the second Barbie doll, blue eyes darting all round the room.
"The Princess," replied the first Barbie with glee. "Caitlin's done her hair and it looks terrible!"
These verses from Mark's gospel are a call to commitment, a call to sacrifice, and a call to give up everything of earthly value in life. To say these are difficult verses is truly an understatement. It is pretty clear that the disciples are not at all ready for what Jesus is saying. They are not ready for Jesus to die and they certainly are not ready to die themselves.