Devotion and Prayer for Week of August 31, 2014

Meditation for the Week of August 31, 2014

  

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’”     Matthew 16:24-25

 

Before His crucifixion, Jesus was always talking about His death and resurrection. This made the Apostles uncomfortable. Who wants to hear about their leader being killed? Peter tried to put a stop to this talk from Jesus and said, “This shall never happen to you.”

Jesus’ next words might be shocking to us: “But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’” Peter was only thinking about the things of man—things like power, glory, prestige, and honor. Jesus was thinking about the things of God, like forgiveness, redemption, and salvation. The only way to accomplish that salvation was on the cross, by taking the punishment for the sins that we had committed. Jesus would bear that punishment by dying for us, in our place, so that the things of God would be given to us. We can’t earn it on our own, we can’t pay for it, and so Jesus paid the price for us. These are the things of God that Jesus would have us think about.

But it’s not always that easy. Because our minds are still fixed on the things of man, we think that any kind of cross must be evil—especially our own. We think that because we belong to Jesus, that nothing bad should ever happen to us, we shouldn’t ever suffer, we should get all the great stuff that the world offers. But to think that way is to think about the things of man. Jesus sets us straight: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” People only take up their crosses when they’re on their way to die, like Jesus took up His cross during His march to Calvary. Jesus is calling us to die—to die to ourselves, to die to all of those things of man that our sinful flesh wants, to die to the false promises of the world, to die to the lies of the devil, to die to our sins. Jesus wants all of those things to die and be buried.

To die to ourselves is good. It’s good because we have a Lord who has conquered death. We can die to ourselves, the world, and the things of man because we know that Jesus will resurrect us. He’ll raise us from the dead, not to live in the things of man, but to live forever in the things of God, to live as a new creation, perfected and holy. Jesus calls us to take up our crosses and die with Him, but He does this so that He can give us a new and better life—life with Him forever. These things—forgiveness, life, and salvation—are the things of God that He gives us through Jesus.

 

Our Weekly Prayer        

Almighty God, Your Son Jesus willingly endured the agony of the cross for my salvation. Give me courage to take up my cross daily and follow Him wherever He leads. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.