Summary: Lent is a time for reflection of our life with Jesus. Is it all it should be? Repent of our sins, our wrong ways and Renew our commitment to Jesus. Oh, and one other thing, don’t be ashamed of Christ!
Well, here we are on the second Sunday of Lent. It is the time of year when we are called to reflect, repent and renew. This time of year is not always when we here the “feel good” messages we all like to hear…and as pastor’s are easier to preach.
Still, even in these times, the times when we are called to take a hard look at our lives, times when we are challenged to examine how we live out our faith, even in these times, we can always find hope and good news in the Word.
In the scriptures just before today’s reading we learn of Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ which means Messiah or Anointed One. Jesus is nearing the completion of His mission on the earth. And still, just before today’s scripture, He warns His disciples not to tell anyone who He is… But all that is about to change.
Here Jesus begins telling His disciples about the coming events. About His suffering, rejection and ultimate death … and after three days, that He would rise again. The scriptures tell us “he spoke plainly about this...” and that’s when Peter acts.
Peter has become more or less the spokesperson for all the disciples and there is evidence here that Jesus knew the rest of the disciples, not just Peter, were confused, shocked and or concerned about what Jesus was saying.
Remember, the disciples had been brought up in traditional Jewish interpretation of God’s Word and as such they could not understand how their Messiah could ever suffer and die. It’s true, some of the prophets had written about the Messiah’s suffering, but a whole lot more was written about the Messiah’s glory. There were even some rabbi’s who taught there would be two (2) Messiahs, one who would suffer and one who would reign. So, given this information, it’s no wonder they were confused.
But notice that when Jesus rebukes Peter, He turned and looked at His disciples. Jesus knew their hearts and thoughts were right there with Peter. And think about this. The problem was more than theological. The problem was practical as well. After all, Jesus had called these men to follow Him and they knew that whatever happened to Him would happen to them. If there was a cross in His future, there would be one in their future as well. So, I don’t know about you, but if that was me I probably would be quick to disagree with Jesus as well. After all, I doubt my mind could accept that I would be knowingly walking to my death!
There is no question of their devotion to Jesus, but the disciples were still ignorant about the relationship between the cross and the crown. Peter and the disciples were following Satan’s philosophy of glory without suffering, instead of God’s philosophy of suffering transformed into glory. Satan knows where Jesus is going. Satan knows his defeat is imminent and he will try everything to keep Jesus from going to the cross.
Today, Jesus still poses the same question for each of us…which philosophy will we follow? Do we want to share in the glory of Jesus without the cost of suffering, or are we willing to endure suffering because we believe our suffering will indeed be transformed into eternal glory?
When most people consider the claims and conditions of Christianity, their first thought is “what will I have to give up?” Usually we think of giving up smoking, dancing, drugs, alcohol or sexual promiscuity or whatever… the list can go on and on.
But in this scripture, Jesus makes the issue crystal clear. His demands are infinitely more encompassing. Jesus wants us to give up ourselves.
Reading Mark 8:34 seems to indicate Jesus and the disciples had met alone, in private. But we see evidence the crowds weren’t far away. Jesus calls the crowds to Him and teaches them what He had just taught His disciples And He teaches us today. There is a price to pay for true discipleship.
Jesus knew many in the crowds were following Him only because of the miracles, and most of the people were unwilling to pay the price to become true disciples. Jesus laid down some key conditions for true discipleship. First, we must surrender ourselves completely to Him. Second, we must identify with Him in suffering and death… Third, we must follow Him obediently, wherever He leads.
The first thing we must do is admit we are by nature self-centered and captive to sin. Last week we talked about The Flood, The Ark and the Rainbow... the covenant. In last week’s reading, God speaks about our natural inclination toward sin…. In Genesis 8: 34 God, speaking to Noah says… “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.”