Reflection on Mark 8:31-38 Second Sunday of Lent 28 February 2021

The Gospel of Mark 8:31-38

Jesus began to teach his disciples 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. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But 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.” 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.”

Let us Pray: Holy God, during this period of Lent, give us a new awareness of your presence in our world and teach us the humility to accept that all our gifts come from you to be used in the service of your people and in the spreading of the Gospel.  Live in us through all our small acts of sacrifice and help us be cheerful in our giving as our Lord Jesus Christ commanded.

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

We have our cross to bear too. And when we bear that cross, we become more and more like the One who bore the cross on Calvary. And that is the point of a life of faith. Did the people standing around hearing Jesus start to talk about his death and suffering have any clue that he would die on such a horrific death. Could they even conceive that this teacher, rabbi, healer, preacher, exorcist, and Godly man would meet such a grisly end? When you follow Jesus, it means putting your own self-survival in the backseat. The first act of following Jesus is totally rethinking our priorities and principles to the way of the Kingdom. It is no longer about saving your life. And it is no longer totally about you. Following Jesus means denying ourselves and acknowledging Christ as Lord over our lives. No other way that we can take will lead us to understand this in our current life, or in the one to come. So can we be like Peter, with a concern for another as he was. He knew he had to say something to Jesus about His safety, but Jesus firmly rebuked Peter by telling him that he was setting his mind on human things rather than divine things.  And Jesus is right, Peter is setting his mind on human concerns, human concerns about his friend.  But he still knows it was necessary. Would you warn a person of a danger knowing you might get humiliated by others or by the person you were warning?   No one wants to believe the worst will come to pass so we take that risk. There is one thing that we can do, and that is get behind Jesus, do what he does, and follow where he goes. We are not asked to know how it will all end, all we are asked to do is follow to the end, and Jesus promises that it will lead to resurrection and new life.

Let us pray: Faithful God as we go out into the world today help us to remember that your son was tempted by the Devil but chose faithfulness before popularity, service before fame and sacrifice before power. Give us the strength to reject temptation through our Lenten journey and beyond it throughout the rest of our lives.

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