(MH – March 5th, 2016)
St. Mark’s Gospel, chapter 8: 27-39 speaks of the great confession of St. Peter; but more specially, it speaks of the great confession we much come to as to: Who it is for us is JESUS?
“And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi. And in the way, he asked his disciples, saying to them: Whom do men say that I am? Who answered him, saying: John the Baptist; but some Elias, and others as one of the prophets. Then he saith to them: But whom do you say that I am? Peter answering said to him: Thou art the Christ. And he strictly charged them that they should not tell any man of him. And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the ancients and by the high priests, and the scribes, and be killed: and after three days rise again. And he spoke the word openly. And Peter taking him, began to rebuke him. Who turning about and seeing his disciples, threatened Peter, saying: Go behind me, Satan, because thou savorest not the things that are of God, but that are of men. And calling the multitude together with his disciples, he said to them: If any man will follow me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel, shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For he that shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation: the Son of man also will be ashamed of him, when he shall come in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. And he said to them: Amen I say to you, that there are some of them that stand here, who shall not taste death, till they see the kingdom of God coming in power.”
I was awakened tonight, early this morning with this spiritual sense upon my Life.
Who is Jesus?
What claim does He have upon my Life?
What is the cost of discipleship?
What is the cost to be a child of my King?
I remember, when I was with the Navy, as a young enlisted man stationed in Washington, DC, after I returned from Viet Nam combat duty. I had seen a little action; not as much as many veterans in those days; but enough action to last me a lifetime. This passage of Holy Scripture was much on my heart in those days; as it is in the present; because then, I was discerning my vocation in Christ; and this was a passage that was quoted by those I spoke to; a passage that some Navigator friends told me of; when I was considering where I would spend my Life in Christ for Christ?
Tonight – I was again awakened with this message: following Jesus – laying aside everything for Him; my everything – and simply following Him.
Then, I was not able to do this; because I was too fearful of following anyone and entrusting anyone with “my future” – because then it was, “I know what is best for me.”
You see, dear soul, we seem to forget that GOD always knows best what is the best Rest for you and me – but, we cannot set aside what we consider is the best Rest for us; for we have so many ideas as to who and what we want to be and become – and we cannot listen to God; but, instead, we listen to the voices of friends, relatives, our inner desires; what we think; rather than listening to Jesus’ Voice and following Him into the desert places, where He calls us to certain death in order that we might have Abundant Life.
When we follow Jesus – we are following Him to Calvary.
When we follow Jesus to Calvary – we are crucified – but, we rise with Him to newness of Life – and ultimately to Eternity in the Resurrected Body that we will be forever and forever, amen.
The Blessed Hope of Titus 2: 13 speaks of this Promise; and in context it says this in verses 11-15:
“For the grace of God our Savior hath appeared to all men; Instructing us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and justly, and godly in this world, Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to himself a people acceptable, a pursuer of good works. These things speak, and exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”
You see, when we are called to follow Jesus, we are called to follow Him all the Way; no matter what is the cost of that discipleship.
Dear one; God calls all of us to follow Him.
He never forces Himself on anyone; but, His Calling is just as powerful as it was for Peter at Caesarea Philippi. There, Peter heard the Call of the LORD; but, he started to look at his Life over the Call of Jesus on his Life; and he started to rebuke the LORD.
We start this as well with Jesus; and we think He is being “unfair” to us – and we also rebuke Him, because He certainly could not be Calling us to the Cross?
The Cross is exactly where he Calls us – in it the REST of GOD is His Presence.
In this Cross is the REST (hesychia) of the LORD we Love; the Lord Himself who Loves you and me. Here is the Prayer of Rest – of JESUS.
I have no regrets for listening later to this Calling where I now walk with Jesus in the Calling He has Called me to in Life as a semi-eremitical monastic.
My family and friends were convinced that I was “crazy” – and I confess to the whole world of men, “YES, I am a madman for Jesus.”
But, you know what? I could not care less what men thought, think or will think about my Calling in Jesus – God alone!
I do not care any longer about what this costs – because it cost God’s Son EVERYTHING for you and me – and I cannot think of anything more ungracious on my part than to not follow Jesus completely; even though I have followed Him so imperfectly all my Life dear one.
Nevertheless, I will follow you, my Beloved, because you have followed the will of your Father to the Cross you have Called me to take up and here follow you. I see my Beloved seated at my Father’s Right Hand – and my Beloved will come again in Glory to receive me to Himself.
Abba Anthony the repentant sinner