Take up your cross

Sunday’s Scripture –August 30, 2020

Matthew 16:21-28

 

Reflection

In one short week, Simon Peter goes from Rocky to Satan. Simon Peter may have been the first to publicly declare Jesus the Messiah (Matthew 16:13-20), but he was still very mistaken as to what that meant. In Peter’s mind (in every good ancient Jew’s mind, really) the Messiah came as a Conquering King not a Suffering Servant.

It must be why Jesus told his disciples over and over that he would suffer, die, and rise again. Jesus wanted them to be prepared, not surprised. Yet, somehow they still missed it. (Is anyone else comforted by that?)  It would only be in retrospect that their conversations with Jesus like the one in Matthew 16:21-28 would mean so much.

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (v 24)

Unlike those first disciples, all of whom were martyred except for John, the Beloved Disciple, (Peter himself took up a literal cross, being crucified upside down.) it’s not likely that we will be called to physical martyrdom, dying literal deaths for Christ’s sake. (Although, there are present day Christian martyrs in other parts of the world, and we should pray for them.)

But it is the call of every Christian to die a spiritual death, a death to our own flesh. For most of us, being a Christian is a bit like death by paper cut, a slew of tiny deaths-to-self over and over again for the sake of our neighbor.

Lest you think, however, that following Christ is a drag, Jesus goes on to say, “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (v 25)

We follow Jesus into death, yes. But we also follow him right into real and everlasting life, which is happening even now.

Here is the secret of life: die before you’re dead. Because, with the dying out of the way, we can get on to the living.

Questions

  • Have you ever thought of the Christian life as a slew of tiny deaths by papercut? Can you relate?
  • One is one way you can deny yourself and take up your cross this week?
  • So, what about you? Have you died before you’re dead? How is your everlasting life?

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