Sermons For Pentecost (Last Third) Cycle A First Lesson Texts
There was no doubt in Zephaniah's mind that God had had enough. His people bowed down to other gods and no longer turned to the Lord in prayer nor did they seek his help. They blindly walked their own selfish and greedy path and in their arrogance thought God would sit quietly by and do nothing. They were wrong! "Listen, the cry on the day of the Lord will be bitter… that day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish… (Zephaniah 1:14-15)." Our Lord Jesus in similar fashion spoke to the world of his day, "I did not come to bring peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34)."
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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.