40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers (Week Two: Monday)

Monday

Confession: Psalm 6:1–4

O Yahweh, do not rebuke me in your anger,

and do not discipline me in your wrath.

Be gracious to me, O Yahweh, because I am feeble.

Heal me, O Yahweh, for my bones are terrified.

My soul is also very terrified.

But you, O Yahweh, how long?

Turn, O Yahweh; deliver my life.

Save me for the sake of your steadfast love.

Reading: Mark 10:32–45

Now they were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going on ahead of them. And they were astounded, but those who were following him were afraid. And taking aside the twelve again, he began to tell them the things that were about to happen to him: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him and flog him and kill him, and after three days he will rise.”

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask you.” And he said to them, “What do you want that I do for you?” So they said to him, “Grant to us that we may sit one at your right hand and one at your left in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking! Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” And they said to him, “We are able.” So Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup that I drink, and you will be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

And when they heard this, the ten began to be indignant about James and John. And Jesus called them to himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their people in high positions exercise authority over them. But it is not like this among you! But whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be most prominent among you must be the slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Reflection

Elevation is pleasing to all, but humility is the step to it. Why do you put out your foot beyond you? You have a mind to fall, not to ascend. Begin by the step, and so you have ascended. This step of humility those two disciples were loth to have an eye to, who said [to the Lord], “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory” (Mark 10:37 nrsv). They sought for exaltation; they did not see the step. But the Lord showed them the step. For what did He answer them? “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (Mark 10:38 nrsv) He does not simply say, “Let him deny himself, and follow me.” But He says, “[Let him] take up [his] cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 nrsv)

What is, “Let him take up his cross”? Let him bear whatever trouble he has; so let him follow me. When he begins to follow me in conformity to my life and precepts, many will contradict him, many will hinder him, many will try to dissuade him—even those who are, as it were, Christ’s companions. They who hindered the blind men from crying out were walking with Christ. Whether there be threats or caresses—or whatever hindrances there be—if you wish to follow, turn them into your cross. Bear it, carry it, and do not give way beneath it. There seems to be an exhortation to martyrdom in these words of the Lord. If there be persecution, ought not all things to be despised in consideration of Christ? The world is loved; but let Him be preferred by whom the world was made.

—Augustine of Hippo

Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament

Response

The call to take up your cross is a radical one. Is your life marked by transformation? Are you willing to bear troubles, conflicts, or even persecution on His behalf? Are you willing to share the good news of Jesus with others?[1]

 

[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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