(Click above to read the passage)
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
~ Matthew 16:24
(Click above to listen to the full sermon)
Our scripture for this week starts with Jesus letting the disciples in on what is in store for him, and with good reason the disciples are upset. This man, who they have devoted their lives to is telling them that he is about to endure a great amount of suffering. They don’t want to believe him and in fact, Peter tries to tell him that he would NEVER let that happen.
However, we know that isn’t the case. We know the sacrifice that Jesus goes through for us – every single one of us, and he is now asking us to pick up our own cross and follow him. Is he really expecting us to pay that ultimate sacrifice? Fortunately for us we are called to pick up our cross and follow in a little bit different way.
At our Baptism we are marked with a cross. It isn’t a cross that is visible to the outside world, but it’s there and it is a sign that we have been marked with forever. It’s a cross that gives us eternal life, but what are we supposed to do with that cross?
Dr. Caroline Lewis encourages us to think of the cross in the following way: A time and place when you wear a cross not just to show the world who you are, but to remind yourself of who the world needs you to be.
PS – For those of you that were here on Sunday, I referenced The Ragman by Walter Wangerin. It is a modern day story of the sacrifice that Jesus paid for us.
Questions for Discussion
Our new testament scripture from Sunday came from Romans 12, and verses 9-13 say the following:
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Find those groups – and figure out what THEY need you to be and be that person. As our confession said on Sunday: We turn the church inward, rather than moving it outward. Forgive us. Stir us. Reform us to be a church powered by love, willing to speak for what is right, act for what is just, and seek the healing of your whole creation.
You are a child of God, you have the mark of the cross, you are someone that this world needs.
Have a great week,