Reading for Second Sunday of Lent
Peace be with you!
Pain seems to be a part of life. Even if you never suffered from physical pain, you have probably experienced psychosocial pain from ending a difficult relationship, rejection, grief, financial stress, or [whatever “it” is] keeping you up late. Every decision requires you to make a choice and to walk away from something else, even for a short time. Consequences, good and bad, follow any decision, which can affect other people. You may take a new job which takes you away from your friends and family. Your decision to move away may cause others to pick up the responsibilities within your family and at work. Your new job may pay better but require more hours, which can impact your marriage and other relationships. Important decisions require labor-intensive thought processes and may cause pain no matter what you decide.
Jesus informs the disciples of the end game: “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 days rise again” (Mark 8:31 NRSV). What a difficult statement to hear about a close friend and leader! Peter rejects the thought of his dearest friend suffering, being rejected, and being killed (Mark 8:32). Anyone with good sense would say, “No! That is ridiculous. There has to be another option.” It is the natural reaction.
However, the decision has been made, and now Jesus has to carry it out. Jesus rebukes Peter, because Peter is thinking about earthly things, not on divine things (Mark 8:33). Sometimes I think we hold the disciples to too high of a standard. How could the disciples understand a theory theologians take a lifetime to understand? Peter is just speaking of what he knows and understands, though Jesus comes off being stern with him. When we keep our minds on earthly things, we deny the divine power. We need to keep our minds and hearts open to the impossible taking place.
Jesus goes on to explain how we have to let go of earthly things; the only way to be saved is to take up our cross and follow him (Mark 8:34). Having faith means you believe in the impossible and are willing to deny yourself of anything that Satan puts in front of you. Satan tries to tell you the impossible cannot be done, and his way makes the most sense.
The difficulty of letting go of earthly things is that we have no concrete concept of the heavenly things. We understand to a degree how earthy things work. We understand our need for food, water, and shelter. We understand that when someone dies they go away, and we can no longer talk to or see them. We can grasp the concepts of the world, hbecause we experience them.
Yet Jesus calls us to let go of what we know for sake of divine things, which will set us free from the bondage of sin. We need to let go so we can experience the power of the Holy Spirit in the world. When we deny the power of Satan, we let go of the things that keep us from God. When we deny ourselves of what we think we need to do, we open ourselves up to the possibility of the impossible happening.
According to Satan, death is the final say—the end-all. However, Jesus is crucified, dies, and rises again to overcome the power of death. Jesus experiences great pain to prove God loves us. Therefore, the message of the resurrection is that death is not the final say. God promises us eternal life in his kingdom when we let go and follow Jesus. This makes it possible for us to be in a relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We make the impossible possible by giving up what Satan has to offer and looking toward the heavens. By doing so, we give God the power over our lives to use us to carry out his plan. In return, we get to meet God in his kingdom.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for Jesus showing us your love. Help us to understand why Jesus had to suffer so much on our behalf. Help us to let go of the earthy things that hold us back from knowing you. Amen.
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 behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- When have you experienced pain?
- How do you let go of earthy things?
- Describe a time when you have witnessed something impossible happening.