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Which cross will you take up?

Helen Netherton

In the chapters running up to our reading in Mark 8 we have witnessed Jesus performing many miracles including; healings and feeding large groups of people. Peter had even declared that Jesus was the Messiah, and then we read that Jesus tells his disciples for the first time what it means for him to be the Son of Man; that he is going to have to suffer, that he will be rejected, and that he would have to be killed.

 

When Peter declared that Jesus was the Messiah he would have had a very clear idea of what that meant. The Messiah would be someone who was anointed, a king, a ruler over the Jewish people. So to hear Jesus saying that he was going to suffer, be rejected, and be killed upset Peter and so took him aside from the group.

 

We don’t know what he said, but we know that he rebuked him possibly saying something like 'Jesus what are you talking about, you’re clearly the messiah so surely you’re going to free us from the Romans and you’re going to rule us'.

 

Jesus had been demonstrating the powers that Peter had been expecting but now he was telling him a different story, and he wanted to put a stop to it. But Jesus turned away from Peter saying “Get behind me Satan”.

 

Jesus probably could have been the messiah Peter had in mind, but he knew that wasn’t the plan. He knew that the plan involved pain and death, that the plan involved a cross, but this cross wasn’t just going to be for him, but was likely to be the result for the disciples as well. He needed the temptation of Peter’s praise to be put behind him, and he needed the disciples to know what was facing them.

 

Jesus told many parables, where the disciples had to decipher the meaning. But this time he directly told them what the Son of Man was expecting and what they could expect as well. He tells them that they must give up their lives, take up the cross, and follow him. We have to remember that to them the cross was a brutal instrument of torture, to take up the cross would have meant pain and certain death.

 

What does 'taking up the cross' mean for us today? For many it means following the life and example of Jesus, and knowing that that isn’t always going to be easy, being led down paths we may not want to walk down, but as Christians we are called to follow Jesus, even if that means that we have to turn away from paths that others are taking, even if it means that we have to speak out for others, even if it means we are rejected because we acknowledge, or talk about our faith.

 

Jesus’ words didn’t reflect the idea of a Messiah that Peter had, but Peter seemed to miss the final part of Jesus’ description of the Son of Man. It says,

 

'He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.'

 

They didn’t know the power of the cross, but we do. We know that because Jesus died on the cross, he defeated death, and we are able to have a relationship with God. We know that it is OK to make mistakes, because we can be forgiven.

 

So many people have an idea that being a Christian is being a goody goody – you must be a nun or monk like; but that isn’t the case, the bit Jesus focuses on is following him and not being ashamed.

 

In Lent as we read this passage of Scripture, we are encouraged to reflect deeply on what this means for us. Our challenge in reading this particular passage is to ask ourselves, 'what is our cross?'

 

You might have something that you know you need to stop doing. Or something that you maybe need to start doing. You might know that you need to be more willing to acknowledge your faith. The question is… are you willing to take up that cross and be recognised as a follower of Christ?

In the chapters running up to our reading in Mark 8 we have witnessed Jesus performing many miracles including; healings and feeding large groups of people. Peter had even declared that Jesus was the Messiah, and then we read that Jesus tells his disciples for the first time what it means for him to be the Son of Man; that he is going to have to suffer, that he will be rejected, and that he would have to be killed.

When Peter declared that Jesus was the Messiah he would have had a very clear idea of what that meant. The Messiah would be someone who was anointed, a king, a ruler over the Jewish people. So to hear Jesus saying that he was going to suffer, be rejected, and be killed upset Peter and so took him aside from the group.

We don’t know what he said, but we know that he rebuked him possibly saying something like 'Jesus what are you talking about, you’re clearly the messiah so surely you’re going to free us from the Romans and you’re going to rule us'.

Jesus had been demonstrating the powers that Peter had been expecting but now he was telling him a different story, and he wanted to put a stop to it. But Jesus turned away from Peter saying “Get behind me Satan”.

Jesus probably could have been the messiah Peter had in mind, but he knew that wasn’t the plan. He knew that the plan involved pain and death, that the plan involved a cross, but this cross wasn’t just going to be for him, but was likely to be the result for the disciples as well. He needed the temptation of Peter’s praise to be put behind him, and he needed the disciples to know what was facing them.

Jesus told many parables, where the disciples had to decipher the meaning. But this time he directly told them what the Son of Man was expecting and what they could expect as well. He tells them that they must give up their lives, take up the cross, and follow him. We have to remember that to them the cross was a brutal instrument of torture, to take up the cross would have meant pain and certain death.

What does 'taking up the cross' mean for us today? For many it means following the life and example of Jesus, and knowing that that isn’t always going to be easy, being led down paths we may not want to walk down, but as Christians we are called to follow Jesus, even if that means that we have to turn away from paths that others are taking, even if it means that we have to speak out for others, even if it means we are rejected because we acknowledge, or talk about our faith.

Jesus’ words didn’t reflect the idea of a Messiah that Peter had, but Peter seemed to miss the final part of Jesus’ description of the Son of Man. It says,

'He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.'

They didn’t know the power of the cross, but we do. We know that because Jesus died on the cross, he defeated death, and we are able to have a relationship with God. We know that it is OK to make mistakes, because we can be forgiven.

So many people have an idea that being a Christian is being a goody goody – you must be a nun or monk like; but that isn’t the case, the bit Jesus focuses on is following him and not being ashamed.

In Lent as we read this passage of Scripture, we are encouraged to reflect deeply on what this means for us. Our challenge in reading this particular passage is to ask ourselves, 'what is our cross?'

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