2nd Sunday in Lent
Series B
Mark 8:31-38
March 19, 2000
The Attitude of Suffering

INTRODUCTION:  In our text for this morning Jesus proceeded to tell the people plainly “that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders, …and be killed, and after three days rise again” (v. 31). Mark tells us, “He spoke that saying openly” (vs. 32). There were no veiled words but a clear proclamation of the Messiah’s activity. The activity of redemption was mad a reality “not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death”. {Luther’s Explanation of the Second Article}.

But His death would not be the end. The chains of death would be broken by His resurrection. Yet Jesus is clear to remind us that His suffering, “must happen” (vs.31) if the Messiah’s work is to end in victory. And it did happen. Jesus “humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8)

As redeemed children of God, we too, need to heed Jesus’ words, for the ways of God are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9) the things of God are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:9-014). In our lives we need to savor the things of God, not of men. In our text Jesus outlines for us God’s way. This morning lets consider the way of living even through suffering, as we live according to Christ’s directive. How do we live according to God’s directive? Three steps need to be taken.

1.      Deny yourself.  John the Baptist said “He must increase, I must decrease”. To live under God’s directive we must think less of ourselves and more of Him.  We need to deny ourselves for each of us are sinners. Conceived in sin we are found to be wanting. Each of us by our very nature are blind, dead, and enemies of God. We must look to Him who is the way, the truth, and the life.

This is increasingly more difficult to do in our present age. The world and environment in which we live is more and more focused on the self. “What’s in it for me?” the world asks.  I want it my way, and I want it now.  How often do we see selfish people doing it their way, on their own terms? Some call it self-gratification. What it all boils down to is the self at the center of the universe. A man wrapped up all in himself makes a very small package. Yet, this is how the world judges success and power and fame.

 “The one with the most toys wins!” so says the bumper sticker, and yet all this striving leaves men broken, tired, and left wanting.  For true peace and contentment we must deny the self and seek after a higher good – His name, again, is Jesus Christ. Deny the self, “He must increase, I must decrease”.

2.       We are also commanded to take up you cross. That’s how we live according to God’s directive.  Taking up our cross means that we simply submit to God’s will. Again, this too is something that is increasingly hard to do in our world.

Just how does one take up their own cross?  It’s found in obedience to the will of God. As I decrease and Christ is to increase I find myself seeking Him who died for me.  We pray so often in the Lord’s prayer “Thy will be done”.  Do we really mean that when we pray it, or have the words become so common place?  Christ has called us to obedience. We are to submit to His will. We are to walk according to His command. We are to act, as He would have us go. We follow as He leads.

3.      Follow Jesus.  That is the third and final command.” Savior lead, I follow Thee”.  So go the words of the hymn.  We follow Jesus as He leads us into paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  We follow as He leads us to the cross and empty grave giving us His life in exchange for our mortal way of doing things.  The words sound simple. It takes a life of faith to live them daily.  That’s why this season of Lent is so often referred to as a discipline and pilgrimage.  We are on a walk with the suffering Savior. We walk with Him as He gives direction. We follow Him to the cross and empty tomb where we find in Him salvation and life. For it is His death that has saved us. It is His life that He exchanges for our futile way of living. It is in His resurrection that we find what we truly need to have life and have it abundantly.

Conclusion: Savior I follow on guide by Thee…Savior, lead, I follow Thee. Wherever You go I will follow, forsaking this world, to find in Thee…my life my rest, Christ, crucified I come.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

+ Soli Deo Gloria+