Posted by on Feb 28, 2021 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Commitment

Good morning, friends!!! Hope you have enjoyed the warmer temperatures this last week and the bright sunshine! We see the gradual approach of Spring.

Dear Lord…as we move into the second Sunday of Lent in 2021, please help keep us safe and well so that we can live out our commitment to you to be your disciple here on earth. As you know, it isn’t always an easy task, but you are with us being our shield and armor and along with the Holy Spirit leading and teaching us. Thank you, Lord, for accepting us into your family and kingdom.

On this 2nd Sunday of Lent, our gospel lesson comes from Mark 8:31-38. This passage is the first one in which Jesus predicts his suffering and all he will experience. It is interesting that at this point in the educating of the disciples, Jesus tells them that his role as Messiah cannot be separated from suffering, death and resurrection.

In the verses just before this statement by Jesus, He had asked the people who they thought he was. Peter declared he was the Messiah and asked the disciples to not tell anyone about this. Peter declared this just after several incidents in which they had seen Jesus heal a bind man as well as feel a large group of people. The Israelites were waiting for the Messiah to come to them and free them from Roman rule, etc.

Here, we see Jesus speaking openly to those listening to him what would happen to the Son of Man. Peter took Jesus aside and asked him to not speak that way. I’m sure Peter as a human was concerned about what the ramification of such statements would be both for Jesus and for the disciples. It was clear that Jesus pronounced himself as the Son of Man.

Now…Jesus rebuked Peter who was being tempted to ask Jesus to do something so that he will not have to experience what he has just told them about.. He was also telling Peter to put his mind on spiritual things…not totally human things. Actually, “Satan” was different from Peter who was really acting like a spokesman. When do we find ourselves saying something that we know within minute we shouldn’t have said…because we weren’t reflecting the fact that we are one of Jesus’ disciples? This was what was true with Peter who was hoping his statement would change Jesus’ prediction.

We also need to remember that in this culture, the cross is a sign of cruelty, something only criminals will experience and not a pleasant sign to think about. The Romans used crucifixion to further their control over the people and the people in Galilee had seen many, many people crucified. It wasn’t a popular sign for people to consider.

So, when Jesus said that the people must take up their cross and follow him…I cannot imagine what fear and distress would have entered their minds. What Jesus is really asking of the people is that they commit to following him and live for others and not for themselves. He is offering them the chance to become part of his family and taking on the name of “Christian” as our name.

Jesus goes on to tell the people that they need to deny any self-centeredness in their lives and not have their minds set on human interests. Jesus also continues by saying that those who take up the cross and commit to following him will lose their current life, but will gain eternal life. They will gain access to the world to spread God’s word to all people. They will become a surrogate part of the family of Jesus.

Jesus also informs the crowd that if they do not commit to following Christ, will be living a sinful life and will not enter heaven. To not follow Jesus and his words is to disassociate from Jesus…be ashamed.

We have committed to following Jesus Christ. We have entered into the covenant relationship with Him and taken on a new identity. This allows us to become more ourselves…as God doesn’t want us to forget who we are and what gifts we have been given by him. When we take on the name of “disciple”, we take Christ’s name (Christian) as our own

Our cross is what God wants us to do. It is not the bad things that happen to us or bad health, etc. God wants us to be able to state which family we belong to. He wants us to show our membership in this family through our words and our actions. He wants us to stand together with our fellow Christians for the good of all the world…and bring them the good news. In this way we show our commitment to being Christ’s disciple working to bring people into the Family of God.

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