Lectionary (Year B): Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22:23-31; Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38 or Mark 9:2-9
Message: “Fork in the Road for Jesus”
So Jesus chose the most difficult way, the way of the cross, the way into Jerusalem, but a way that later would also become the way of the resurrection. Today Christ calls us to also follow that way when we find ourselves at the fork in the road of life. “Enter,” says Jesus, “by the narrow gate for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Jesus stood at that fork in the road, but his disciples stood with him. Many of those who had followed Jesus during his earlier ministry had become “dropouts” when Jesus began to set his face toward Jerusalem. Some were impressed with Jesus, with his teachings and with his miracles, but when he started talking about giving up their lives, losing their lives for his sake and for the gospel’s , suddenly they got “cold feet” and they found his way too hard, too costly, and withdrew from him, choosing instead the easy way.
The church stands at a fork in the road today and is in danger of reacting to danger and threat by considering the possibility of retreat and withdrawal, as the heyday of the church recedes.
Likening the church to a ship, the church can either be a ship in the harbor or out at sea. It’s comfortable in the harbor, where we can just be among our own. It’s not threatening to be in the harbor. But a ship is made to sail in the open sea and the church was meant to be a church in the world. There are times when it’s nice for the ship to take sanctuary in the harbor, but the church is also meant to be in mission. The church is not just here to meet our needs, but to respond to God’s commission. And the church can meet that need because Jesus strides ahead of His church and we must follow him into the broken lives, the political corruption, the sick and the poor, and make a difference in his name!
Robert Frost’s epic poem sums it up so well:
“Two Roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
O, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
“His mood at this period was more stern, absorbed, and highly strung than ever before. His contests with his enemies were sharper. The conditions which he imposed on those who offered to be his disciples, more stringent. Everything denoted that the end was drawing near. He was in the grip of atoning for the sins of the world and his soul was strengthened til it should be accomplished.” (Stalker)
Music: “O Worship the King,” “Have Thine Own Way, Lord,” “Awake, My Soul”
Call to Worship:
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,The pioneer and perfector of our faith, who endured the cross, disregarding the disgrace, and has ascended to the right hand of God –Adapted from Hebrews 12:2
As we go forth, let us remember the words of our Lord: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Prayers taken from Leroy Koopman, 2012 Liturgical Publications Inc, LPi Resource Center, P.O. Box 510817, New Berlin, WI 53151-0817, 1-800-950-9952 ext. 2469