Sunday, March 4: Mark 8:31-38
What were the disciples thinking when Jesus told them of his impending death? The knowledge of Jesus being crucified must have been devastating. The man that they witnessed performing miracles, giving sermons to many whose faith was often absent or weak; the man they walked beside, growing in their faith through him, because he believed and exemplified love, understanding, and forgiveness. The disciples have seen Jesus’ actions leaving impressions on many followers, and then he tells them he will die and then rise again in three days. He tells them he will suffer and be rejected by people of power and some of their fellow men.
Jesus tells the disciples and his followers that the way of the Cross will also be their way to salvation, but that they must believe and follow him. They are told to give up worldly needs so as not to forget their souls. Jesus came to serve and bless us.
Jesus wants us to follow him, and Lent is just the beginning of him trying to teach us that his death was not collateral damage, but it was God’s agenda. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says it best in his book The Cost of Discipleship: “The cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise God-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for giving Jesus the strength and understanding to accept his fate. Fill my heart with love and grace so that I may rise above my weaknesses. Cleanse me from sin and evil. Let joy fill my heart with the knowledge that your love is understanding, patient, and will be with me always. Be with those who don’t know you and the sacrifices of your son Jesus. I pray all these things knowing you are my friend and guide. You know my heart’s desires and listen to my many woes, but none of these can compare to your sacrifice, and for that I am grateful. Be with me now, and help my heart and mind be still, so I can feel you always. Amen.