Thursday, March 6, 2014

Second Day of Lent: Immediately

This is the second devotional thought based upon a Lenten reading plan created to compliment the Lenten sermon series at Southland Baptist Church in San Angelo. You can follow that reading plan here.

Today’s reading: Mark 8:31-9:1

Key Verse: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me – Mark 8:34.

Yesterday marked the beginning of Lent, the forty day season of preparation that precedes Easter. The church has traditionally viewed this season as a time of humility, confession, and repentance. It has also traditionally been a season in which the church focused on the passion and suffering of Christ.

Mark’s gospel dedicates almost 40% of its pages to recounting the last week of Jesus’ life. That’s a notable slowing down of the story for a gospel that sprints through the rest of Jesus’ ministry. If you reread Mark’s story, you’ll notice how often he transitions from one account to another by writing the word “immediately.” English translations, with their preference for variety, obscure the fact that Mark uses the Greek word for “immediately” thirty-nine times!

Mark’s Jesus is a Jesus on the move. He’s moving towards a very specific place – towards Jerusalem, towards a cross. He said as much to his followers in Mark 8:31-32.

It’s here, with Peter, that we’d like to immediately move towards something else, but on this occasion the ever moving Jesus resists our desire to move on. This is why he has come, to give himself away for those he loves. If we want to be his disciples, we must be prepared to take up our crosses and follow him.

As I ponder what it means to journey with Jesus towards the cross, I wonder what it means to take up my cross? What would it look like today? In my family? In this community? At the very least it means leaning into the kind of life that is lived for the benefit of others and not for myself and to do that in Jesus’ name and for his sake.

If I’m not there, and so often I’m not, may I follow Jesus’ example and immediately head in that direction.

Father, thank you for sending Son into our lives. His sacrifice has brought us salvation and shown us the way towards true life. May we immediately follow him wherever he leads, even if he leads us to a cross. Amen.

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