Lent Reflections @ CEC (3/7/20)
Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God. - Andrew Murray
SCRIPTURE & DEVOTION: Mark 8:31-38, focused on 31-33
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.”
Jesus Predicts his Death for the First Time
No one wants to suffer. Yet Jesus said plainly to the disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and after three days rise again.”
God often shows the world that He is truly God by using prophecy to tell what will happen.
Jesus told the disciples two more times in the book of Mark that he would have to die soon. The disciples were expecting Him to rule and reign – to take away Roman control. Crucifixion is the complete opposite of what they expected. The cross would do something unexpected – not just reform – but rescue. Not just threaten – but overcome.
Hearing Jesus talking about his impending death was disturbing to Peter. This is not the plan. Peter couldn’t understand the future. Only Jesus could. Jesus pointed out to Peter that he has unwittingly playing into Satan’s hand.
“Steer Jesus gently away from the cross, and he will die in his bed, of old age, leaving behind lots of good memories, lots of fine sayings, lots of healed cripples. And a world unredeemed. The cross is the means by which Jesus will rescue, not merely reform. It is the weapon with which he will not simply threaten the forces of evil, but overcome them."
Wright, N. T.. Lent for Everyone: Mark, Year B (p. 35). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.
Jesus had counted the cost and submitted to His Father’s plan. It was a high price. But by following through with the plan, he defeated Satan, freed mankind and glorified his Father. It was an incredible triple victory. It was worth it to him. He loved us that much.
Jesus knew that He was the only one who could accomplish this task. “…What can a man give in exchange for his soul?” v. 37. None of us has enough money, or power or good deeds to trade to get his soul back from the grave. Jesus was the only one worthy. “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Rev. 5:12. “…with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Rev. 5:9.
We are invited to share eternity with Him. His grace is too much to comprehend. And this is good news – the gospel – that we are to share with those around us! Jesus has made the way for us to live in restored relationship with Him.
Our mission: share this good news. God has set a place at the table for all of his children.
Let us fully embrace this path – living our lives wholly for Christ –sharing His story with others. The gospel, the message of the cross, has the power to change lives.
Prayer of Thankfulness for the Cross and a request for the Spirit to help proclaim the good News
Jesus, you are the Lion of Judah, you are the Lamb of God. You are the perfect offering to take away my sins and the sins of every person. By dying on the cross, you made a way for the grace of God to rest on us all. Now, I shout out, “You are my Lord!” You are the master of my heart. Let me seek your ways, not my own selfish ambition. I know what you want. You want me to love my neighbor. You want me to love you and keep you first. And you want me to put on the shoes of the gospel and go out and tell people about you! May your Spirit help me do it!
Now I know that I am part of your people. I am reborn into your family. Thank you that you have opened the meaning of your word to me, so that these mysteries are made clear. Thank you for giving me the Holy Spirit to make me bold and to proclaim the riches of your generosity! May I always be thankful for your mercy and grace!