What is the Way of the Cross?

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S (Scripture): Matthew 16: 21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and legal experts, and that he had to be killed and raised on the third day. 22 Then Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him: “God forbid, Lord! This won’t happen to you.” 23 But he turned to Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are a stone that could make me stumble, for you are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.”

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. 25 All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will find them. 26 Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? What will people give in exchange for their lives? 27 For the Human One is about to come with the majesty of his Father with his angels. And then he will repay each one for what that person has done. 28 I assure you that some standing here won’t die before they see the Human One coming in his kingdom.”

O (Observation): Following Jesus most certainly means difficulty and challenge. Peter will have none of that. Poor Peter…bless his little heart. He’s just trying to hold on to the thing that everyone wants to hold on to: God’s Son, in the flesh!

Peter wanted so much for Jesus to NOT suffer…or be killed…and yet, that is precisely the path for Jesus.

Only the way of suffering and death could lead to resurrection and new life!

Jesus is trying also to lift his disciples out of the dualistic view of the world: from “life OR death” to “death leading into new life.” Both go hand in hand, in God’s care. Death does not hold back what God can and will do in spite of death. New life is God’s way, even in the midst of tragedy.

A (Application): We have got so many things we want to hold on to in our world. Our money, our status, our stuff…our guns?

Sigh….

This “death leading into new life” stuff (which I firmly believe) is hard to face when thinking about school shootings and the abuse of guns in our country.

So, I won’t pull us down that road, other than to say this: I hope voices arise from the din of silence that envelopes a community when tragedy strikes; there is new life. I hope civil conversations occur everywhere regarding appropriate use of guns; there is new life. I hope potential terrorists are loved and cared for, so they don’t turn to drastic measures of death and gun abuse; there is new life.

Where will new life occur? In you? In someone who has experienced tragedy? In policy changes? In love shared with neighbor?

Seek God’s direction today…and don’t be surprised if that path leads to you letting go of something…so that something new can spring forth.

P (Prayer): Lord, you take up our suffering and our shame and turn us towards bringing new life and hope into your world. Be with all the families of the students who died in Parkland, FL, last week as they lay their sons and daughters to rest. Amen.

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True Gospel Authotity


From Richard Rohr’s daily meditation for Friday, June 16, 2017.  (His full meditation can be found here.)

True Gospel authority, the authority to heal and renew, is not finally found in a hierarchical office, a theological argument, a perfect law, or a rational explanation. The Crucified revealed to the world that the real power that changes people and the world is an inner authority that comes from those who have lost, let go, and are re-found on a new level. Twelve-Step programs have come to the same conclusion in our time.
Both Francis and Clare had this kind of inner authority that is still part of their essential message for the world. They let go of all fear of suffering, all need for power, prestige, and possessions, and the need for their small self to be important. They came to know something essential—who they really were in God and thus who they really were. Their house was then built on “bedrock,” as Jesus says (Matthew 7:24).

GO-SUFFER-BE KILLED-BE RAISED

  

S (Scripture): Matthew 16:21 From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

O (Observation): GO – SUFFER – BE KILLED – BE RAISED. 

This is Jesus’ mission.   

Yes, Peter calls Jesus the Messiah in the verses that precede this, and yes, Peter is rebuked.  That is an important element, but today…I keep it simple.

Jesus was called to GO – SUFFER – BE KILLED – BE RAISED. 

A (Application): Many people dislike the notion that we would be compared to Jesus for any aspect of life or discipleship.  I tend to disagree with that notion.  

Jesus’s understanding of going, suffering, being killed, and being raised is certainly part of our life’s work as disciples.   Jesus led the way in this regard, and he beckons us to come, too.  

This means our salvation still rests in what God is doing (raising us up), as we stumble and bumble our way through life (going, suffering, and being liked).   

When is the last time you were called to GO and SUFFER?   Was it financially?   Physically?  Socially?  

I know that our family financial suffering has come in part due to our commitment to giving 10% of our income…but we have also experienced the blessings that come with this giving.  We have experienced what it means to BE RAISED in this aspect, too. 

Have you been called to stand beside the powerless or the downtrodden?   

Did you put yourself at risk because you felt the call to move in that direction?   

Did you sacrifice social status? 

And if so, what was it like to BE RAISED in that moment?   I don’t want the focus to ever be on the suffering for the sake of self-aggrandizement.  But rather, the focus should be on what it means to BE RAISED beyond the suffering.   

If you haven’t sensed this in your life…what are you waiting for?

P (Prayer):  Lord, help us to boldly step out in faith, knowing you carry us through our going, suffering, being killed, and being raised.  Amen.