Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
Mark 8:27-30, 31-38
Peace be with you!
God has a way of blowing us away. Just try to make your own life plan and you will find God step in and completely change it for the better! The spring before starting seminary I was graduating from college and getting apprehensive about my next chapter in life. It was late in April, and I still had not heard from Luther Seminary about whether or not I was accepted into their M.A. program. My anxiety level kept rising with every passing day. What would I do if I was not accepted into seminary? One night, I was studying with a friend and my anxiety got the best of me. I couldn’t focus at all on what we were doing. “What if…?” I kept saying.
So my friend decided taking a walk was in order to clear my head. We discussed what I could do if I was not accepted. We came to the conclusion that I could move my mom’s religious store to Whitewater and run it since her current location did not draw much business. I swear the very next morning Luther Seminary emailed me my acceptance letter. It was as though God was laughing at my back-up plan and was saying “Erin, I have a better plan.”
People in Jesus’ time had their own ideas of what the Messiah would do when he came. Jews thought he would be an all-powerful warrior who would conquer the Romans and free them from oppression. Of course, from the devotion on Wednesday about Noah and the flood we understand that as long as this old world exists, there will still be oppression, sin and brokenness. God’s plan was not to rid the world of all political oppression.
God has another plan: “…the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three day rise again.” (Mark 8:31). The Son of Man has to suffer, be rejected, and be killed? Then he will rise after three days? Huh? If I was one of the twelve disciples, I would say, “Jesus, you are not making any sense. You are the Son of God. There is no way you have to suffer, be rejected, and be killed. You are the Son of God. You can just use your magical powers and rule over everybody. There is no good reason for you to be killed. And even if you did ‘die,’ there is no way you could rise again after three days. Death is final.” Like Peter, Jesus would call me Satan and tell me to get behind him (Mark 8:33). After all, I have no idea what God has planned and what the world needs!
Jesus’ reality is God’s way of life: crucifixion, death, and resurrection. God the Father knows that he cannot rid the world of sin until the new heaven and new earth described in Revelation; therefore, he must act out of unconditional love and give himself to the world. The world, including his children, may reject him, but he will give the ultimate gift: forgiveness. Jesus had to go to the cross and die in order to rise in three days, so we could experience a fresh start through God’s unconditional life. Jesus shows us God’s way of life by coming into the world to express his love for us.
By coming into the world, Jesus meets us in our suffering by experiencing it alongside us. Jesus is not a hypocrite; he feels and understands our suffering. He knows what we feel in every situation. He has denied himself in order to carry out God’s plan to bring us into a relationship with God the Father. His love for us crosses the earthly boundaries that we create and pulls us back into God’s love.
Jesus continues to cross the boundaries to invite us to follow him. He calls us to deny and lose ourselves in order to gain life. When we deny our earthly desires by placing our faith in Jesus instead of in our own efforts, Jesus saves us and gives us the good news that we are forgiven through his crucifixion, death, and resurrection. He crosses the boundaries to show us the way back to God the Father.
Jesus crossed the boundaries when I had given up hope of being accepted into Luther Seminary. He saw my hopelessness as I chased after the unknown future. He gave me direction for the future, which produced hope out of my despair.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for crossing the boundaries in order to meet us in our suffering. Help us to wait for you to direct us into the future, instead of jumping ahead with our own plans. Thank you for including us in your plan. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1. What are your expectations of God?
2. How do you lose yourself for God?
3. How does Jesus continue to cross the boundaries to walk besides you?