We Must Go to Jerusalem
Karen Cline, Sunday, August 30, 2020
Scripture: Matthew 16:21-28 (New Revised Standard Version)
21 From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?27 “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. 28 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Matthew 16: 21 says: From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering....
Jesus said that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering. He told his disciples this same thing three times on the way to the great city for the Passover festival. He wanted to make sure they got the message.
They did, but only partially. Just like us, they could be slow on the uptake. They did understand that going was a very dangerous undertaking. The religious hierarchy and the Roman overlords were looking for Jesus, and there was no doubt they planned to kill him. So why would Jesus walk into this kind of danger, and what would happen then?
Let us pretend we are among these disciples. We have been with Jesus for three years or less. We believe he is a great prophet but we are uncertain what God's plan is or what Jesus might do next. Pretend you do not know with 20/20 hindsight. How would you react?
Are you the bold one, who gets up into Jesus' face, saying, "Are you crazy? Don't go!"
Are you muttering to your friend next to you: "What in the world? I hope he changes his mind."
Have you convinced yourself that it must be perfectly safe, because Jesus must know what he is doing?
Or maybe you can follow along while it seems safe enough, with a backup plan to get out quickly if it all goes wrong.
What if Jesus is going to do what you have been hoping for —
take down the Romans! All right! Let's go fight and be part of that.
Maybe you have been listening closely to what Jesus is saying, about suffering and dying. There is no hope of a good outcome. Oh no, we are all going to die.
You could be one of those who is unsure, but will follow Jesus anyway,
hoping for the best.
Or you might be one of those who quietly choose to leave, go home to your family, and stay safe. What does Jesus think he is doing, anyway?
All that took place 2,000 years ago. What about today? What about when we must "go to Jerusalem":
When we face situations and issues and dangers with no chance to avoid them?
When the best we can do is slog through it, following Jesus and holding his
When the only way to the light at the other end is to painfully walk step by step through the middle of what feels like hell?
When it seems like the bad times will last literally forever?
You might be faced with a serious, possibly long-term health issue — pain, fear, uncertainty, fatigue, despair.
You or a loved one might be living with permanent disability —
caregiving, depression, fatigue, stress.
You might be living with a stressful job situation, and there is no solution in sight, no possibility of changing jobs, no end in sight — stress, health ramifications, depression, family stress.
Maybe you suffer with a mental disorder, struggling with just making it through each day, and the judgmentalism of those who cannot understand what it is like.
I stand at the rail of life,
Tottering unbalanced by the vertigo in my soul.
Rain lashes across my face blindingly,
Wind forcing me hard against the edge.
You might have serious family issues or financial difficulties — stress,
uncertainty, pain, depression.
You might be so lonely that you can see no hope.
Maybe you are seriously depressed, strung out, wrung out,
just plain tired of life itself.
Upon a moonless midnight...Stark, sere, sans mitigation, Wanderer whimpers mindlessly... Worn, waxen, barren,
Droops in dim despondence...
Dull, devoid, mute,
Bereft and alone.
The mirror is black as the void,
Reflecting only darksome oppression,
Mute misery in dismal dusk,
Surrounded by somber silence,
Nothing but a vast vacant vista.
Maybe you have faced a lifetime of bullying and uncertainty about who you are,
who you should be, the fear and pain and lack of loving acceptance.
All of us, right now, are facing huge problems with the world as it is now:
Fires across our state and other states,
Weather in extremes and no rain, Hurricanes wreaking havoc
Divisiveness across many areas of life, Injustice across our country and world,
World tensions and violence and wars.
We must go to Jerusalem.
How are we to deal with walking through this valley of the shadow of death?
Don't Go! We will all die... Let's Fight! Follow along regardless. Resignation/Despair.
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."
We do not walk alone. We are never alone, even in those times when we are so very sure that we are completely alone, the presence of our loving God is always right here with us. We won't be shaken.
And we are called, every day, to be "angels" to those who are suffering in their aloneness, so that they know they do not have to make the walk alone. Our Jerusalem is tough enough, and we need to remember to walk hand in hand with our God and with each other.
Then we can get through it and into our resurrection beyond it.
When you walk through the valley veiled by tears, You do not walk alone.
When you struggle through the darkness of pain and grief,
It is not for you to struggle alone.
Loudly decry injustice, anxiety, fear,
and hear the echoes from a thousand voices.
We are given as angels to journey with you, to walk, to groan, to wail, to stumble.
You are interwoven with the universe,
You do not walk alone.