|Angus Pratt's Home > Creative > Writing > Celebrated Cross|
We have for a number of weeks been on an adventure. A 50 day spiritual adventure.
Now on the
surface this adventure doesn't look to exciting. We aren't taking a Christian group to the Holy
Land. We aren't trying to win the World Series for Christ. We are just a little band of people
who are exploring our Christian life.
Well maybe it is exciting. Our adventure is to explore who Christ is and to
figure out if he has
anything to say to us today. You know after all the guy lived two thousand years ago. And he
didn't have a television or the Internet so how could he really be successful!
People involved in the spiritual adventure are doing a couple of things. For
some people the
adventure is happening in a personal journal. I'll tell you more about mine in a few minutes. For
others the adventure is going to a small group. And some of you are participating in the
adventure by coming on Sunday morning and really trying to listen to the singing and the sermon.
Have you ever procrastinated? Put something off that should be done.
Like hmmmmmm....should I admit to this? Taillights on my Suburban? I have been
around for awhile now with no right turn, no right brake light, in fact no taillight at all on the
right side. Well a while back one of the Queen's Cowboys noticed it too. In fact he very kindly
gave me a written reminder to get it fixed. In fact he was so kind he gave me five days to get it
fixed or face getting a fine. Nothing like a little money on the line to get it fixed. But still it was
on the last day when I had the service station look at it and finally get it fixed. When I took it up
for the inspection, the officer doing the inspection laughed and pointed out that the dangling
wiring prolly meant it would go again shortly.
Sure enough within a week it was gone again. In fact when I looked at it the
other day I realised
that indeed the wiring is completely gone...It's now been three months and I'm still
Sometimes though there are things that are more serious that get procrastinated with.
As I was writing this sermon I was getting regular calls. I have been trying
to do some writing. A
lot of my job is writing but this is to be more creative. Kind of stuff that I want to do. Somehow
I'm not getting to it. I know it's important. It is my current area of education. Where i am
learning. Yet taking time from eighteen hour days to do it is difficult. A few nudges from
friends, a looming deadline, and I will hand in some writing for a writers' workshop.
I tell my students in my college classes. You hand it in late...it's five marks
off. I give you
something late...it's oops. I say that but I don't live it. If I make a commitment to get something
for a student, they get it. On time. Funny that I can do that there, but not in other areas of my life.
Are there things that you procrastinate with? What do you put off doing today
that you should
Oh this is supposed to be a sermon?
I should make a connection to the scripture passage and to the 50 day spiritual adventure. Turn
to Mark 11
Well actually lets sneak back just a couple of verses to 10: 33 Jesus tells of his death to come...
"Listen," he told them, "we are going up to Jerusalem where the Son of Man will be handed over
to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law. They will condemn him to death and then hand
him over to the Gentiles, who will make fun of him, spit on him, whip him, and kill him; but
three days later he will rise to life."
Before He gets to the cross though there are things that distract him. There
really are three
distractions that Jesus faced on the way to the cross.
The first are the crowds...then there were his close friends and then there was his own humanity.
We'll come back to look at his close friends and his humanity in a bit.
11:1As they approached Jerusalem, near the towns of Bethany and
Bethany, they came to the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of his
disciples on ahead
11:2with these instructions: "Go to the village there ahead of you. As
as you get there, you will find a colt tied up that has never been
ridden. Untie it and bring it here.
11:3And if someone asks you why you are doing that, say that the Master
F18 needs it and will send it back at once."
11:4So they went and found a colt out in the street, tied to the door of a
house. As they were untying it,
11:5some of the bystanders asked them, "What are you doing, untying
11:6They answered just as Jesus had told them, and the crowd let them
11:7They brought the colt to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the animal, and
Jesus got on.
11:8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut
branches in the field and spread them on the road.
11:9The people who were in front and those who followed behind began to
shout, "Praise God! God bless him who comes in the name of the
11:10God bless the coming kingdom of King David, our father! Praise be to
11:11Jesus entered Jerusalem, went into the Temple, and looked around at
everything. But since it was already late in the day, he went out to
Bethany with the twelve disciples.
What a picture of triumph! Can you you hear the crowds cheering? Can you feel the elation
sweeping through. This is the Messiah. The promised one. This is the one who will save us from
the oppression of the Romans. He does miracles. Listen to his teaching. He will bring victory
and triumph to our nation.
Or will he? Remember he had the cross in view. When I was in seminary I kept
talk of the Scandal of the cross. This is the scandal of the cross. The vision of the people was not
the vision that Christ had....In one short week he would be on the cross...nailed there...dying.
Let's read on. At vs 15 we'll come back to his personal struggles and the fried
fig tree in a
11:15When they arrived in Jerusalem, Jesus went to the Temple and began
to drive out all those who were buying and selling. He overturned the
tables of the moneychangers and the stools of those who sold
11:16and he would not let anyone carry anything through the Temple
11:17He then taught the people: "It is written in the Scriptures that
said, "My Temple will be called a house of prayer for the people of all
nations.' But you have turned it into a hideout for thieves!" R62
11:18The chief priests and the teachers of the Law heard of this, so they
began looking for some way to kill Jesus. They were afraid of him,
because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.
11:19When evening came, Jesus and his disciples left the city.
Have you ever been in a country that has rebelled against it's leaders? I have.
You don't exactly
start out that way! You might go down find a few strong men and capture the leaders. Put them
under lock and key. Surround the palace and make sure that no one gets in or out...but imagine
the audacity here. Not exactly having a good day. Jesus roared throw the temple...one bad case of
male menopause. He tipped over tables stopped everybody from carrying things through the
temple courtyard. Angry...you bettcha.
And then can you see him stopping ...gasping for breath and saying...house
of prayer for all
nations...but you have made it a hideout of thieves!!!!
Oh oh...crossed the line there Jesus. Maybe you can't be the Messiah. You aren't
Romans those are our own leaders!
See Jesus didn't listen to the crowds. They knew he was the Messiah. But their
different from his. He saw the cross and he marched inexorably toward it. In fact it was at this
point that the Jewish leaders realized he had to die. That they had to kill him.
He kept his eye on the cross.
If we turn back just a few pages we come across the first time this happens. Mark 8
Mark 8: 27
8:27Then Jesus and his disciples went away to the villages near Caesarea
Philippi. On the way he asked them, "Tell me, who do people say I
8:28"Some say that you are John the Baptist," they answered; "others
say that you are Elijah, while others say that you are one of the
8:29"What about you?" he asked them. "Who do you say I am?"
Peter answered, "You are the Messiah."
8:30Then Jesus ordered them, "Do not tell anyone about me."
Here's Jesus...out for a walk. With his good friends. His best friends. And
you know how
sometimes you are just not sure how people are receiving you. It's sort of like when you have bad
breath...you know...you can't tell. Somebody has to tell you. Well not exactly like that. This is a
perception check. And you ask your close friends who am I? And in this case the answers are
interesting...to say the least...
John Elijah or a prophet...and then we get the clencher.
Now who do you think I am.
And Peter tells him. Imagine what this cost him. He knows this man is good.
He's enjoying the
teaching He's seen the miracles. And now it's time to confront what's going to happen. Or what
he thinks is going to happen. Jesus didn't quite see it that way..
8:31Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: "The Son of Man must suffer
much and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the
teachers of the Law. He will be put to death, but three days later he
will rise to life."
8:32He made this very clear to them. So Peter took him aside and began
to rebuke him.
8:33But Jesus turned around, looked at his disciples, and rebuked Peter.
"Get away from me, Satan," he said. "Your thoughts don't come from
God but from human nature!"
Peter has just made the biggest commitment of his life. He knows that he will
be part of a
rebellion...but this is just a bit much.... and he begins to explain it to Jesus.
Jesus had the cross in view. When Peter didn't understand what was going to
happen he thought
to give Christ guidance. The cross meant death. This isn't how you win rebellions. As a matter
of fact it sounded like it was actually a fairly good way to lose a rebellion.
Jesus recognized the distraction from close friends. And he headed to the cross.
He put Satan
That wasn't all the distractions though. Jesus had to face his own humanity.
Let's go back now
to chapter 11.
11:12The next day, as they were coming back from Bethany, Jesus was
11:13He saw in the distance a fig tree covered with leaves, so he went to
see if he could find any figs on it. But when he came to it, he found
only leaves, because it was not the right time for figs.
11:14Jesus said to the fig tree, "No one shall ever eat figs from you
And his disciples heard him.
11:20Early next morning, as they walked along the road, they saw the fig
tree. It was dead all the way down to its roots.
11:21Peter remembered what had happened and said to Jesus, "Look,
Teacher, the fig tree you cursed has died!"
ah excuse me that tree died. Jesus spoke to it and it died. Imagine Jesus frustration
He walks over
and he looks for fruit. Doesn't matter that it wasn't the right time for the fig tree. He was the Son
of God. And he was hungry. So he fried the fig tree in frustration.
Or is there more going on here. Imagine the tension Jesus can see the cross.
It is clearly in view.
He had the power to find fruit on that tree. To compel it to produce. In several days there is going
to be another tree in his life. A cross. This fig tree died. Was it a word picture for the nation of
Israel? And their rejection of him?
11:22Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God.
11:23I assure you that whoever tells this hill to get up and throw itself in
sea and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says
will happen, it will be done for him. R63
11:24For this reason I tell you: When you pray and ask for something,
believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you
Jesus celebrated the cross.