Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Preparing for Sunday, March 15th

We are a week behind on the lectionary due to our "snow storm."

This week’s scripture finds Jesus and the Disciples in Caesarea-Philippi. Peter in a moment of insight announces that Jesus is the Messiah, but Peter’s insight only goes so far . . .

31Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
34He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:31-38

Last week, we heard about Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. This week, Peter is the one (unknowingly) doing the tempting as he rebukes Jesus (can you imagine rebuking Jesus?!) and insists that the Messiah might be able to complete his mission without experiencing suffering, rejection and death. Jesus then rebukes Peter, calling him Satan, and then turns to the disciples and the crowd and says, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Why would anyone want to be a follower of Jesus if following him means taking up a cross and losing their lives?
o What would it look like to take up a cross and follow Jesus?

The word translated “life” in verses 35-37 is the Greek word psyche which could also be translated soul or the “inner life” or personality of a person. However you translate it, the statement is paradoxical. How can one lose their life or inner being in order to gain it? Yet this is exactly what Jesus calls us to do.
o What would it mean to be willing to give up your self—your life?
o What would it mean to gain it?
o What would be a healthy way of denying self?
o What would be unhealthy ways of denying self?

Image: White Crucifixion by Marc Chagall
Just a few thoughts to help us prepare our hearts and minds-ourselves—for Sunday!

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