I recently saw Randy Harris preach on Mark 8. He called his message “The Gospel of Peter.” It was about the crucified Messiah, the cruciform life, and the gospel of the cross.
For Randy, preaching is 75% listening and 25% speaking. So, he built a sermon on Mark 8 by trying to listen to the text. He used a sort of odd way of doing it, that he called the Ignatian way. (It’s so odd that WordPress doesn’t recognize “Ignatian” as a word!). What that means is he tried to imagine himself in the text. He imagined himself as Peter, and out of that grew his sermon (and a very powerful one to me).
Well, I thought, why don’t we try to do a little Ignatian way with the Bible class this Sunday. Why don’t we try to enter the text.
The text is I Samuel 8-10. It’s the story of Saul becoming King.
Well, when I really listened to the text, I found some surprises. The Bible has a way of doing that. So, I’m not going to spoil all the fun in this post, but I would suggest that as you read through I Samuel 8-10 that you try the following:
- Imagine that you are Samuel. Try to tell the story as Samuel.
- Now, imagine that you’re Saul. Put yourself in his shoes. I think you’ll find a really interesting story there.
- Finally, put yourself in the shoes of the people. Try to tell their story. I sort of did that in this post.
When I did all of that, I came away with one lesson. It’s a simple one, and yet it’s one that I sometimes forget. I think not just me, but WE forget. We tend to forget this huge lesson because it just doesn’t feel right. It just doesn’t set well with us sometimes. But, when we do get it, it changes everything.
Are you interested in that lesson?
It’s God’s plan, and I will follow it even when I don’t understand and even when it hurts.
That’s it. It’s his plan. His kingdom. His work. His purpose. We get to get in on it. We may not understand it. We may not see how the gears of his plan are fitting together to turn the wheels of history. We may not understand how the foundations are being laid and the structure is being built. But, he’s doing it.
I don’t know if Samuel understood what God was doing…but he was faithful. Now, there’s a lesson. You see, it hurt Samuel to appoint a King. He felt rejected. He felt like a failure. And, I don’t think he really understood what God was up to with all of this…the long term…centuries long plan that was being carried out…but you know what? Even though it hurt…even though he didn’t understand…he followed God.
Even When It Hurts (Hillsong United)
Take this fainted heart
Take these tainted hands
Wash me in Your love
Come like grace again
Even when my strength is lost
I’ll praise You
Even when I have no song
I’ll praise You
Even when it’s hard to find the words
Louder then I’ll sing Your praise
This is the challenge for me. Follow God, even when it hurts. Strangely enough, this gets us back to Mark 8 and Randy’s message. You see, in Mark 8, Jesus called his disciples to follow him…even if it means losing their lives. Peter didn’t get that the Messiah had to die. Didn’t understand. He didn’t understand the message of the cross. Sometimes, we don’t either. But, just like Samuel who followed when he didn’t understand, and just like Samuel, who followed, even when it hurt, we take up our cross, and follow the crucified King, the King of all King, and the Lord of all Lords. And, guess what? He’s worthy of our following. He’s worthy of our praise. Even when we don’t understand, and even when it hurts. Why? Because he’s doing something more wonderful than we could have ever imagined. That’s the gospel (good news) of Samuel.
Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forevermore, world without end. Amen.
- What do you think of the Ignatian way of reading Scripture?
- When you look at the story from the people’s perspective, what do you see?
- When you look at the story from Samuel’s perspective, what stands out?
- The story of serving God even when he feels distant is found throughout Scripture. Name an example.
- The idea of serving God even when you don’t understand is tough. Think of a time in your life when you dealt with this. How do you find strength in the story of Samuel?
- Serving God even when it hurts is tough. What are the benefits of doing this? Why do we often fail? What lesson are we going to learn from Samuel?
- What does the writer mean by the “gospel of Samuel”?