Again and Again: Take Up Their Cross ...
31 [Jesus] 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. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 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.” 34 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. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 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.”
1. Suffering of the cross (v.31-32)
Son of Man must suffer many things
[Jesus] was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 4:25 (NIV)
In the emptied and humbled Christ, we encounter God, we see who God really is, we come to know true divinity. Precisely because God is God, the divinity of God can be reached in the form of a servant. –Henri J.M. Nouwen, Compassion
2. Resistance of the cross (v.32-33)
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
To die on the cross means to die despised and rejected of men. Suffering and rejection are laid upon Jesus as a divine necessity, and every attempt to prevent it is the work of the devil, especially when it comes from his own disciples; for it is in fact an attempt to prevent Christ from being Christ. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 1 Peter 3: 8–9, 17–18 (NIV)
3. Invitation of the cross (v.34-38)
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… What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
To deny oneself is to be aware only of Christ and no more of self, to see only him who goes before and no more the road which is too hard for us. Once more, all that self-denial can say is: “He leads the way, keep close to him.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
Lent is 40 days of wilderness to identify with brokenness and turn our lament into praise and trust of God and empathy, compassion and justice with one another.
Small Group Questions
- How have your perceptions of following Jesus changed from the beginning of your spiritual journey to now?
- What is the worst part of losing for you?
SPIRITUAL PRACTICE - Prayer of Lament
Lent is the season when our anticipation and expectations of celebrating Easter and the resurrection are sobered by our Lament over the suffering of the cross. Lament is an expression of sorrow, as we cry out to God with our heartache. We will use the weekly Psalm for our Prayers of Lament with this 4-step model will guide us.
Prepare our hearts: After a moment of silence to still your mind, read Psalm 22 aloud, following along in your own Bible. As you listen, jot down words that stand out to you.
Spend time in silence responding to the prompts.
1. We will turn to God with confident praise. We can put our trust in God because we have seen him work in the past. We can praise God because we have confidence we will once again experience his faithfulness in the future.
Reflect: I praise you God because…
Silently Pray: Lord, help me to trust you enough to be honest with you.
2. We will open our hearts to God with complete honesty. We come to God, with brutal honesty, holding nothing back because we know God’s deepest desire is for a restored loving relationship with us and all humanity. We name the brokenness we see, knowing it also breaks God’s heart.
Reflect: I cry out to you God for this broken world…
Silently Pray: Lord, help me empathize with those who are suffering and align my requests with your heart.
3. We will ask God to intervene and repair what is broken. We plead with God for a new day to dawn. Because our hearts break for all that is not right, we lay our requests before God. Boldly we will seek God’s justice, truth, and mercy to come on earth as it is in heaven.
Reflect: Please Lord Jesus, I plead with you to create something new for…
Silently Pray: Lord, we worship you and trust you in all things, your glory is all I desire.
4. We will lift our voices in praise and worship. We worship a Holy God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We will offer our praises again and again, even before our requests are granted.
Reflect: Lord God, even as I wait, I will worship you because you are
Silently Pray: Lord, send me out to re-engage the world with confidence and trust in you.
Group Sharing: How has your understanding of lament grown as we experience this practice together? How have seen the needs in your life or in the world differently as you identify with the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus during Lent?
Read Mark 8:23-31 aloud.
- What stands out to you in this week’s message or scripture?
- How does Jesus describe the road that is ahead for him? How does he then expand on what the disciples can expect will be ahead for them?
- How does Jesus’ declaration of what is to come conflict with Peter’s expectations? How does it conflict with your expectations of the Christian life?
- What does it mean that Peter is setting his mind on “human-things” rather than “God-things”? How easy is it for you to relate to why Peter reacted the way he did? Explain.
- What does this passage say Jesus believes about discipleship? Do you have the same beliefs about discipleship as Jesus?
- Have you ever “rebuked” Jesus when you experience loss or suffering? In your own heart, what is your greatest resistance to the cross? Explain.
- How is following Jesus an act of denying ourselves? What opportunities are missed when we avoid loss at all costs?
- How have you come to trust that the reward you gain in following Jesus is far greater than what you will lose?
- How could you deny yourself this week in order to set your mind on the things of God rather than human things?
PRAYER AND BENEDICTION
Pray for one another: How can we pray for you?
Benediction: (Psalm 25:1, 4-5, 21)
You have given all to us, even life itself. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, for that is enough for me. Amen!
DAILY PRACTICE: Continue to spend time with God daily in Solitude, Scripture, and Prayer. See the new Lenten Reading Plan & Playlist online. Spend time in lament during your time alone with God.