“Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; … He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”
– MARK 8:27a, 34-35
On the Way with Jesus
The disciples travelling with Jesus are really on their way! We are exactly in the middle of Mark’s gospel, chapter eight. All twelve disciples have made the faith leap to follow our Lord Jesus and things are humming along!
It’s great to belong to a group where you feel you fit in, isn’t it?! It’s great to belong to a group where the mission you are accomplishing together becomes familiar yet energizing.
There are times when following Jesus is so fulfilling isn’t it? Here we are – and we’re walking with the Lord – and it is all so wondrous. At Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, we belong to this Christian movement and the Lord is in the lead. He’s doing great things and we get to come alongside him!! We are on the way with Jesus!
And following Jesus IS all of that.
Taking up our Cross
But then, Jesus gives us a jolt. Before we keep sauntering down this road together with Jesus, Jesus tells us that he’s really on another path. And we’re going with him.
Jesus is really headed to the cross. Jesus, the Messiah, is going to GIVE UP his life. And this is the course to which we also belong. Jesus says, his way is to be our way. We are to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. THAT’S what it means to BELONG HERE, Jesus says.
Belonging here – on the road with Jesus as this faith community that walks with the Lord, means we’re on our way to becoming people who give themselves away. Life is headed towards letting go of as much of ourselves as we possibly can – in love – so that our Lord can guide us TO the ones who most need hope, comfort, justice, and love – that pours from Christ – through us.
This walk just got a lot more difficult. Yet our encouragement and strength comes from knowing that Jesus himself is taking us down this path. And the inspirational motivation for this deeper walk comes in discovering that when you go this way, you open yourself to something greater. You let go of yourself – to pick up Jesus’ walk – with and for the lost and hurting and least of these on life’s journey.
Letting the Lord Lead
So today is another day to ask – where do you need to deny yourself as you continue your walk with Christ? Where do you need to lose yourself in order to find yourself for the sake of Jesus and the gospel? Where do you need to get yourself out of the way, so that the Lord can lead you in following him??
And today is another day to ask ourselves together as a church body – where do we need to get ourselves out of the way in order to take up our crosses and follow Jesus? When we belong here – this walk is no longer about ourselves – it’s about who our Lord is taking us to meet and who most needs his care.
May we continue down this path with the Lord in the lead. It’s not about ourselves. It’s about Jesus.
Thanks be to God! Amen.