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Journey to Jerusalem Day 18

Saturday, March 6 Mark 8:31-38
31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
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.”

Following Jesus is what it means to be a Christian. We like things, especially now, to be sanitized and easy. We want following Jesus to mean pleasant hikes on clearly marked, wide-paved paths.

Well, the path is clearly marked but it does not point to a leisurely stroll: it points to the Cross. And, like Peter, we want to balk at this because it offends our expectations and sense of self-preservation. Peter could not understand how a crucified Messiah could usher in the kingdom of God.

In Peter’s naive boldness, he rebukes Jesus. (Ridiculous to us when we read it. But every time we say “yes” to self and “no” to Jesus, are we not doing the same, claiming there is a “better” path?)

Peter’s suggestion of a different path is no simple miscalculation either. Jesus calls it at odds with heaven; even satanic! (Eve’s conversation with the serpent should be echoing in our minds!)

Jesus is severe in calling this out. And again, we are uncomfortable. But Christ is relentless: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” In a land of plenty and opportunity, self-denial does not come naturally—but it is necessary for “setting our mind[s] on the things of God.”

What might the Father be calling you to lay aside or put down? In what ways are you being called to deny yourself in order to follow Christ?

Father, we thank you that even in the severity of Jesus’ words calling us to self-denial and trust in you we find your heart of love for us. For you desire us to experience real, lasting life in Jesus. By your Spirit, Lord, set our minds on the things of God rather than the things of men.