Believe and Obey

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An Unbelievable Prediction

The text for this Second Sunday of Lent is Mark 8:31-38.  This sees Jesus foretelling of His death and resurrection.  This is a stark, yet joyful reminder of the purpose of our Lenten journey.  For Peter it is just a sorrowful, unbelievable prediction.  So unbelievable that Peter thinks it appropriate to rebuke Jesus.  Never let it be said that Peter did not possess chutzpah.  Peter only heard the death part and ignored, as probably too unbelievable, the rising again.  In Peter’s defense He loves Jesus and cannot bear to think of Him suffering this way.  Yet, Jesus knows why He has come and what He is to accomplish, even if Peter cannot come to terms with it.

The Price of Grace

Jesus then goes on to tell His followers what will be expected of them.  He is very clear in Verse 34: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”.  To follow Jesus is not going to be easy and it would, in fact, lead to death for almost all the Apostles.  I have written often of the notion of “cheap grace”, which is a concept put forth by Lutheran theologian and martyr to the Nazis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  It is the idea that the grace which we receive from God through Christ does not change us or lead us to the often-hard path of obedience to our Lord and savior.

Bonhoeffer reminds us that nothing should be cheap which is costly to God.  Jesus in this passage is foretelling the price of the grace upon grace that He bestows upon us.  It is the price of His earthly life.  Agonizing suffering and a shameful criminal’s death is the price Jesus pays for us.  How dare we respond by acting as if this is a cheap thing.  It is a thing given to us freely but at this point we should have God’s good and gracious word penetrate our hearts so that we respond as best we can.

True, we will never measure up (nor joyfully do we have to), but to not make the attempt to bear our crosses on behalf of the Good News is nothing short of sin.  As Jesus says be not ashamed of Him.  Boldly proclaim what He has given us all, and do so in thought, word, and deed.  Do so, with the full knowledge of what price Jesus paid on our behalf.  This passage serves to reminds us that Jesus knew beforehand what that price would be, yet He obeyed the will of the Father anyway.  Pray that our belief is of such strength that our obedience is great no matter the cost.

Praise Be to God

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