Ash Wed Service: The Son of Man (II)February 26, 2020, More from this speaker 更多关于此讲员: Rev. Wong Siow Hwee (Mark 8:34-9:1) For more of this sermon series 更多关于此讲道系列: Mark
Preached at a Ash Wednesday service
Ash Wednesday personal/home order of service
26th Feb 2020
From ancient times, Christians used fasting and repentance to prepare themselves to remember the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ and to celebrate his resurrection. Over time, the Church recognise that observing the Lent can help Christians value the call of repentance and forgiveness as proclaimed by the Gospel. It encourages Christians, through reflection, confession, prayer, fasting, self control, reading and meditating God's words, to observe Lent together.
Scripture reading Psalm 51:17
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Video link: https://youtu.be/DMfzJsjZ9Ow
Scripture Reading Psalm 103:8-18
Reflective Reading Isaiah 58:1-12
Video link: https://youtu.be/cO_BGMDEh9U
Sermon Passage Mark 8:34-38
Ash Wed Message: The Son of Man (II)
Preacher: Rev. Wong Siow Hwee
On Ash Wed Service
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. We started having Ash Wednesday service in 2011, and this is the tenth year we have been having this tradition. “Churches use this service to prepare church members to better appreciate the death and resurrection of Christ through self-examination, repentance, prayer, fasting, and self-denial. Ashes from the burned palms of the preceding year's Palm Sunday are blessed. With these ashes, the priest marks a cross on the foreheads of worshipers, saying, "Remember, man, that dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return" (Genesis 3:19 KJV). Besides showing sorrow for their sins, those who honor Ash Wednesday add an additional meaning; the need to prepare for a holy death.”  In Jubilee Church, even though we don’t go through the typical rituals with the ashes (even our burying of the alleluia is symbolic), our intention to observe the meaning of Ash Wednesday is the same. As Christians, the death and resurrection of Jesus has become a part of our lives. As Paul reminded us in Romans 6: 3 Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. We are united with Jesus in his death and resurrection. As Christians, we must face death honestly, so we can live a new and resurrected life faithfully.
On Lent in Jubilee Church
Lent is a period of 40 days (excluding Sundays), a time when we reflect on the suffering and salvation work of Jesus Christ. In Jubilee, we do a few things to observe Lent. One, we “bury the Alleluia” with a black cloth to symbolize the repentant mood as we fast and pray during this season. As a form of religious observance, we avoid any worship songs with the words Alleluia/ Hallejujah. Two, we have provided devotions based on Isaiah 40-55 to guide our daily quiet time. (Download link: http://www.jubilee.org.sg/qt2020/) As you reflect on the prophetic words of Isaiah, you will find many echoes in the Gospel of Mark, such as the passages on the Servant of God. Lastly, our sermon series on Mark similarly moves into the next phase of the story of Jesus. In the previous phase, in the first 7 chapters, there were lots of signs and wonders with the crowd. But in the next phase, starting from chapters 8 to 10, Jesus began his journey towards Jerusalem and gradually revealed more and more about his final mission. In these particular chapters, there were a few private dialogue sessions between Jesus and his disciples. Jesus was preparing them for his suffering, which was his “way”. Chapter 11 onwards would be his final week in Jerusalem.
On the way of Jesus
In the 40 days of contemplative reflection, you will be transformed. Through the narrative flow of Mark, as you gradually see Jesus more and more clearly, the unfolding of how Jesus would live and die was the “way” of Jesus. And the way of Jesus was also the way of the disciples. After talking about his own suffering in verse 31, Jesus said in Mark 6, 34 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. The life of discipleship is a life just like Jesus: to live accordingly to the will of God and to sacrifice for the good of others despite all difficulties. Just as how Jesus had willingly chosen to fulfill his mission, his disciples would have to make the same choice. To describe it as a decision of self-denial and cross-bearing was to state it openly that this would be a real challenge. This is because there will be many obstacles to faith. Remember the parable of the sower (especially Mark 4:17-19)? There will be many hindrances, whether from the environment or from our own inner struggles, that makes it extremely hard to accept the full gospel. We all wish for the signs and wonders without the sacrifice. That is the temptation. But that is not the way of Jesus. How about you? Have you thought about your way? Are you willing to be Jesus’ disciple?
On the reference of Psalm 49
I do not post this challenge simply. It is not easy to sacrifice one’s life, even for the sake of the gospel. Yet that is precisely the best use of life itself. Because to hoard your life selfishly, is to lose its value completely. The paradoxical nature of the value of life is highlighted in Jesus’ thought-provoking questions: 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? Jesus might be referencing Psalm 49:7-9 as a boost to his followers to accept the challenge of costly discipleship boldly. Spend some time to read through Psalm 49. You might find that it is an enlightening reflection on the true value of life.
(Bible passage link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+49&version=ESV)
“The psalmist, speaking essentially for the poor and the disenfranchised who can only cast themselves on Yahweh, poses a single question to humanity: Should I be afraid when in evil days I am surrounded by the treachery of powerful and wicked foes (49:5-6)? The answer: I should not and will not. For all their riches they cannot offer a ransom to redeem their lives from God's power and the fate that he has allotted to all humanity (49:7-11).
They are like sheep, but their shepherd will be Death (49:14b). True wisdom is to know that humanity’s one hope is in God, who alone can redeem from the pit (49:15). In Mark, Jesus sets out the two paths open to Israel. One is the path taken by his powerful opponents who, confident in their resources (whether wealth or righteousness), seek to secure their own existence. The other path―the one that Jesus himself exemplifies, wherein all such claims are renounced even to the point of laying down one's life if need be, and wherein one trusts solely in God, who alone can raise the dead― paradoxically leads to life. So fundamental is this dual act of self-renunciation and trust in God, that if need be, even life must be let go. For the millions who groaned under the weight of a status seeking, wealthy elite, the invitation to renounce that entire mindset was good news. This was the beginning of a new creation and a new humanity built first and foremost on trust in God, not on one’s own wealth and station.” 
On Son of Man
Lastly, I want to talk about the title “Son of Man”. I first spoke about it at the Chinese New Year combined service.  I explained that Son of Man means Man, which emphasizes Jesus’ humanity. Son of Man can also be interpreted as “I”. So Jesus might be referring to his personal uniqueness, when he talked about the distinctive authority and mission of the Son of Man. There is a third interpretation. The “Son of Man” could be referring to the special figure mentioned in Daniel 7:13-14. 13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. I believe this interpretation is well explained in this Youtube clip by the Bible Project:
Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6cWEcqxhlI.
The context in Daniel 7 seems to be the best fit for the title of Son of Man in Mark 8:38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels. “’The son of man’ in Daniel 7 represents God’s people as they were suffering at the hands of pagan enemies. He would eventually be vindicated, after his suffering, as God set up the kingdom at last. Jesus was warning his followers that this was how he understood his vocation and destiny as Israel’s representative (i.e. the Messiah), and that they must be prepared to follow in his steps. God’s kingdom will challenge and overturn all normal human assumptions about power and glory, about what is really important in life and in the world. The coming of God’s kingdom with power has a lot more to do with the radical defeat of deep-rooted evil than with the destruction of the good world that God made and loves. Jesus seemed to think that evil would be defeated, and the kingdom would come, precisely through his own suffering and death.”  (see Mark 9:1)
Highly recommended further reading on the title Son of Man:
The Beginning of the End
Today is the beginning of Lent. Just as the saying goes, ‘A good beginning is half the battle won.’ If you have read this sermon up till this point, it means you have made the effort to set aside this time for godly purpose. Good work. I believe the words of Jesus should have given you some food for thought. The heart of the matter is about a clash of values. As Jesus rebuked Peter: 33 “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Very often, they can be two contrasting and competing concerns. But Jesus had demonstrated his way. The way of self-denial (Mark 14: 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”) The way of the cross (Mark 15: 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”) Jesus exemplified a life of self-sacrifice. That is the true way to live. Oh sons of man, be faithful and follow Him all the way. So that we too may live as sons and daughters of God.
Response Hymn 爱中相遇 (bilingual subtitles)
Video link: https://youtu.be/_1qAkP0M87I
 Beale, G. K., & Carson, D. A. (Eds.). (2007). Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament. Baker Academic. Pp. 182-184
 Wright, T. (2001). Mark for everyone. SPCK. Pp. 111-112
Mark 8:34–9:1 (Listen)
34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
9:1 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”