Today, as I post this, I am sitting in a sun-drenched spot at Pakiri. The tide is coming in. The gulls are feeding excitedly in the estuary. The cicadas are cranking up. It’s heavenly – but I am struck by Jesus foretelling his death and resurrection. There’s a fly in my ointment! There’s a clash of realities here. I’m experiencing it two thousand and sixteen years later. How much more intense it must have been that day Jesus burst the disciples’ bubble in Mark 8:31. “Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things …” The sweet spot they were in has been muddied by Jesus’ talk of Romans, torture, shame, rejection by elders and leading priests. (But things are going so well! Don’t talk like that, Rabbi!) It almost seems Mark spares us the gories, maybe out of respect for what his Rome-based congregation themselves are going through; arrests, crucifixions, death by beasts in the Roman “games”. “Many terrible things” will conjure up enough details in their minds.
We are two weeks out from Easter and Mark’s narrative is going to pick up pace soon, relentlessly driving us towards Jerusalem and the cross. And, of course, the resurrection. Today , in the fourth week of Lent, I intend to enjoy the company of Jesus, to listen closely to what he is saying. I know the cross is coming now, and I still can’t fully get my head around resurrection but nevertheless he is preparing me (us) for Golgotha. I realise there is no real celebration on Easter Sunday if I haven’t witnessed the cross in some way. Not merely peeking through my fingers but truly looking. I don’t want to think about it. Even as the estuary is ruffled and disturbed by the incoming flow of life from the sea, my heart is ruffled and disturbed too.