“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” – Mark 8:34-35
When you were first told about following Jesus, how was it described?
In the Gospel reading, Mark 8:27-38, the passage has several great things that happen.
- We hear a little of what people thought about Jesus.
- We have Peter’s confession of who Jesus is (The Messiah / Christ).
- Jesus tells the disciples of the suffering and death He would face.
- Jesus describes what it means to follow Him.
That last one can be pretty challenging. Jesus doesn’t describe a life of ease, free from pain.
Often times when we talk about following Jesus to others, we focus on the positives. We talk about love, peace, and hope. We talk about forgiveness. We talk about finding meaning in life.
To be sure, all these things are true, but they aren’t the whole truth.
Jesus describes a life that will include suffering, maybe even losing our lives. He describes it as taking up a cross and He doesn’t mean to put on a pretty, gold necklace. I don’t know, maybe we shy away from this part because we don’t think the slogan will sell well:
“Know Jesus, Know Persecution. No Jesus, No Persecution.”
The truth is that following Jesus can be difficult and downright dangerous at times. Maybe if we were open about that people who start to suffer wouldn’t be so quick to feel like God abandoned them.
Not Just Words
One of the amazing things about Jesus, though, is that He isn’t asking anything of us that is more than He is willing to do Himself. Right before He talks about us taking up our cross, He tells the disciples that He will be taking up a cross, literally, and giving His life for us.
So great is His love for us! When we suffer, He hasn’t abandoned us, He walks with us. Also, we are reminded that death isn’t the end with Jesus. The suffering is temporary. Jesus would rise again in 3 days and we, too, will be raised with Him to eternal life.
You suffered and died for me. Give me the courage to suffer for You and, when suffering comes, remind me that You are there with me and never leave me. As I speak to others about Jesus, help me to be open about what that really means as well as to talk about the suffering You endured for us.
In Christ’s Service,