Posted on: February 27th, 2024 by St. Stephens Downsview

Sermon by the Venerable Fr Theadore Hunt

As we gather on this second Sunday in Lent, I am grateful to see all of you here. Today, I want to reflect on a passage from Mark’s Gospel, specifically Chapter 8, verses 31-32. In this passage, Jesus teaches his disciples that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, be rejected by the religious leaders, and be killed, but will rise again after three days.

This teaching from Jesus marks the beginning of three predictions he will make about his own death. Just before this reading, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” The disciples respond with varied answers, mentioning John the Baptist, Elijah, and one of the prophets. While these responses suggest that the people were beginning to see and understand Jesus, they lacked a deeper knowledge and relationship with him.

Jesus then turns to his disciples, those who have spent time with him, and asks them directly, “Who do you say that I am?” This question demands a personal and intimate response, based not on hearsay, but on their firsthand experience of journeying with Jesus.

One of the disciples, Peter, answers, “You are the Messiah, the Christ.” While Peter’s answer is correct, it becomes clear that he and the other disciples do not fully understand the implications of Jesus being the Messiah. They do not anticipate the suffering, rejection, and death that Jesus will have to endure. In fact, Peter even tries to rebuke Jesus for speaking about these things.

This interaction between Jesus and his disciples holds a profound lesson for us today. We too may find ourselves in a similar position, desiring to follow God’s lead but struggling when it takes us to unfamiliar or challenging places. We may feel the need to correct God’s plans for our lives. However, Jesus invites us to draw near, to move away from abstract knowledge and truly know him.

In unpacking the meaning of being the Messiah, Jesus teaches us that struggle, rejection, and even suffering are not to be avoided but endured. These hardships do not separate us from God’s love and presence. In fact, they can deepen our faith and character, ultimately leading to hope.

As followers of Christ, we are not immune to the crises and tragedies of life. We may face physical illness, the loss of loved ones, relational challenges, financial burdens, and a sense of unfulfilled expectations. But in the midst of these struggles, we are called to endure faithfully, knowing that God’s love is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

Lent, a holy season of reflection and preparation, offers us an opportunity to draw near to Jesus, to encounter him in a personal and transformative way. It is a time to let go of our distorted perspectives of God and receive his true nature.

So, in this season of Lent, let us answer Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” by moving beyond mere knowledge and truly meeting him, journeying with him. Let us embrace the struggles and uncertainties of life, knowing that God is present with us, guiding and sustaining us. May our faith be deepened, our character refined, and our hope anchored in the unfailing love of our journeying God.

As we continue our Lenten journey, may we draw nearer to Jesus and allow his teachings to shape our lives.

(c) church of st Stephen, Downsview, 2024-02-25