Friday, May 4th. Mark 8:34-9:1

He 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. For 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. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those 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. And he said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.’  Mark 8:34-9:1

 

My initial reaction to this text begins with the realization that I have no memory of “learning it.”  Particularly the line, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

 

It feels as if that line is as much a part of me as “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so” or “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest.  Let these gifts to us be blest.”  They are in me and in you.  Few can remember the first time they heard them, read them or learned them.

 

So why do they come as such a shock every time we see them again?

 

Why are they so puzzling?

 

Why does “followers” (or “disciples” in other places), in the context of this line, suddenly sound like an inner circle of which we are not a part whereas in other places “followers” feels much more benign?

 

Why are we uncomfortable with the words “deny themselves?”  Why do we instantly begin an inner conversation about how the cross of Jesus’ crucifixion relates to the unsought after suffering we enter for the sake of others?

 

Why is it so confusing as we do the math in reading about saving our lives and losing our lives and profiting the whole world and forfeiting our lives?

 

Why does this text remind me of specific times when I had an opportunity to explain to someone else how I felt and what I thought and what it meant to me to try to be a follower of Jesus but I was afraid other people would think I was a freak so I didn’t say anything…and felt the shame of my own silence.

 

Why does this text, with Jesus’ diagnosis of his age as both “adulterous” and “sinful” feel as applicable today as it did back then?  Why doesn’t anything seem to get better and stay better?  Especially in me?

 

Maybe it’s just me.

 

Maybe most of the people who read these words find them comforting.  They easily count themselves among the followers of Jesus.  They don’t get too hung up over words like “cross” and “deny” and “lose”.  They don’t feel shame at being reminded of those moments in their lives when they felt ashamed of being a person of faith.

 

No doubt there are people like that.  Some might add a comment to this post.

 

But for me, I’ll let these words cook in me today.  I’ll let them have their way with me.  As if I had a choice…for these words, and our Savior who said them, will never let us go.

 

Let us pray:  Once again, dear Lord, you have caught us in the act of our own self-righteousness.  You have caught us making your way of being in the world into something else that is easier for us, more comfortable for us, less of a cross and more of a club.  Birth in us a renewed willingness to follow you, one step at a time.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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6 Responses to “Friday, May 4th. Mark 8:34-9:1”

  1. John R. Bowers Says:

    I think most of my failures to express my faith comes from a fear that I feel I am sometimes misguided as to how I see and interpret the word. Too often scholars including pastors and others who have spent years studying the word with other scholars have a much different interpretation because they have studied Greek or Hebrew and word meanings and have the advantage of discussions. I become hesitant to mislead by misinterpretations I might make so I remain silent except to express how I know God’s love is continually reaching towards all and His spirit dwells within us all. It is an amazing mystery which I am counting on understandling clearly when I meet Him face to face. I don’t just wander the streets looking for opportunity to express my faith to others. Usually, only after I have established a personal relationship with someone who seem a little receptive to hear me. It is not because I feel embarassment , more due to my uncertainty that I am right. I look for the Spirit to perfect my prayers when I don’t even know what to pray for others or even myself but I have not reached the point where I very often feel the Spirit is perfecting my expression of faith to others.It is hard enough to reach out to a homeless person or beggar with a little survival bag .

  2. Kerry, Allie, Jonathan and Steve Says:

    I am a work in progress.

    Thanks, as always.

  3. Dean B Says:

    I always look forward to your insight involved with a challenge to improve ourselves and our relationships. Thank you.

  4. Julia Cloninger Halford Says:

    Where are you? My inbox has been missing you – did I miss a warning? Are you all right? Do I need to sign up again? I really need your guidance, Julia

  5. Dean B Says:

    I hope you are ok. I miss your guidance.

  6. Joyce Shorek Says:

    Waiting patiently for your return.

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