Carry Your Cross

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In Matthew 16:16 when Jesus inquires of the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter tells Jesus, you are the Messiah. Jesus affirms Peter and tells him that such faith is what the church will be built upon. Then just a few verses later, Jesus tells them that the Messiah must suffer and die, and Peter says, “ God forbid it!” Jesus refers to Peter’s reaction as a “stumbling block” (in Greek “scandalon”) The stumbling block is our inability or unwillingness to understand Jesus as the one who must suffer and we, the would-be followers of Jesus, must walk that way as well.

In Mel Gibson’s movie “Braveheart,” the Scottish hero William Wallace is eventually lead to a horrible, gruesome death on the gallows. He is spat upon. Garbage is tossed upon him by the very people he thought he was liberating. He is drawn and quartered, strangled, and finally hacked apart while living. His limbs are sent to various parts of the kingdom as a warning against any revolutionaries.

The cross is something akin to that. It is a repulsive image of discipleship that is presented in Matthew 16. Jesus does not explain why, at least in any grand detail. Jesus simply calls. If we would be with Jesus, we must be in the world in the same fashion that he is in the world – on a cross.

The necessity of suffering remains in many ways a mystery to me. What  I have learned is that Jesus calls us away from the temptation to become “flabby, soft, earthbound creatures.” Jesus’ call to us, invites us to an adventurous path where reaching for stars is possible. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ’If anyone wants to follow me, they must forget themselves, carry their cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my own sake will find it.’ Matthew 16:24-25

Still in One Peace,

Pastor David J. Jensen

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