Lent Devotional-Week2: Buddy Jesus or Suffering Servant?

Our Lenten Challenge

God calls all of us to set aside the 40 days before Easter, the season of Lent, to be a time of preparation.   We honor this call knowing that on Easter morning our efforts will be rewarded with a renewed sense of hope and awe as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. 

Each week of Lent will include a weekly devotional.  Try to answer one question a day, reading the scripture and meditating on its meaning in your life.  If you’re having trouble, talk to God or a trusted friend about it.  Keep reading the scripture, ask others and involve them in this process.  You may be surprised at the results!  But whatever you do, do not give up.  Lent is about strengthening faith, and like any good muscle, strength in faith requires exercise!

Bring your devotionals back to church each Sunday, and put them in the basket on the altar.  Let the time you spend studying and reflecting be part of your offering to God during Lent this year. 

This week’s scripture reading:

Mark 8:31-38

31 Then he began to teach them that 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. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

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In a “pain-killer” culture, this passage has a lot of difficult things to say to us about suffering, and about Jesus’ place in it.  Why did Jesus have to suffer?  Didn’t he come to make our lives “positive” and “prosperous?” Aren’t we promised that if we follow Christ, we won’t have to suffer? The short answer, frankly, is “no.” The image of Jesus as the “Suffering Servant,” who does God’s will no matter what the cost, is often hard to swallow, especially when so many TV preachers promise us prosperity in following Jesus. Much danger lies in concluding that suffering and self-sacrifice are undesirable in the Christian life.  They may, in fact, be necessary, as Jesus’ own life tells us. He had many wonderful things happen to him as a result of following God, but he also was killed for it.

All of the disciples, as they left Jerusalem after Easter and began to preach the Gospel to the world, encountered suffering. All ages of Christianity have had suffering servants, and they give us an awe-inspiring picture of faith amid hardship, just like Jesus.  Even today, we may lose our job, be denied promotions, or lose friends & family because of our faith in Christ. However, if we have the confidence & faith to know Who is with us in the suffering, it makes the pain of doing God’s will small compared to the eternal pain of not doing God’s will. Salvation through Christ carries with it a promise and a warning: everyone can be confident at the final judgment that Jesus will follow the Golden Rule – he will treat us the way we have treated him, no matter whether the road was paved with suffering or not!

 


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