Throughout Advent, we posted blogs each week based on the Lectionary Readings for the previous Sunday. It was truly an awesome experience to travel through Advent with the universal church by praying, meditating, and responding to those texts. We loved it so much, we thought we’d do it again throughout Lent.
He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “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 me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
— Mark 8:31-38 (NIV)
Following Christ is a call to come and die. God has chosen us and adopted us as His sons and daughters bearing His name. We must die to our flesh, our pride, our desires, and our will. When we die to ourselves, Christ fully lives through us (Galatians 2:20). We adopt His character, His will, His desires, and live as Jesus, bringing glory to His name. Look at Jesus’ prayer in John 12:27-28. Though His heart was troubled, He did not pray, “Father, save me from this hour.” He knew the Father’s will and His purpose. He prayed, “Father, glorify Your name!” Even though it meant Christ must lay down His life. He laid down His life for His sheep (John 10:11,15). He laid down His life for His friends (John 15:13).
Let’s examine our lives. Which areas of our lives are we trying to save? In other words, we will follow Christ unless He asks what of us? What do we own and lay claim of? What will we not relinquish?
And Jesus said to all, “If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also]. – Luke 9:23 (Amplified Bible)