The season of Lent emphasizes our finite humanity, the realities of sin and death, and our total dependency on God. But that doesn't mean that Lent is bad news or gloom-and-doom. No, Lent takes us from ashes on Wednesday, to the cross on Friday, to the resurrection on Sunday.
Our devotional journey will take us through the final days of the life of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the four gospels. Today's reading, Mark 8.31-38 (click here to read on YouVersion), records Jesus predicting His own death.
Jesus tells his disciples that his life is not heading in the direction they expected. They had expected their Messiah to wage a violent uprising against the Roman Empire and finally win political freedom for their people.
When Jesus tells them that instead, he will die at the hands of the Romans, it's too much for Peter. Peter rebuked Jesus for saying such things. To Peter, the idea of his Messiah dying means that his Messiah is a failure.
Jesus returns Peter's rebuke with a rebuke. He says that Peter is looking at things through the wrong lens:
"You are not setting your mind on the things of God but on the things of men."
At this point on the road to resurrection, Peter isn't able to see the full picture. He can't see the possibility of Jesus winning a victory through death and suffering.
Today, we have the benefit of reading these words from the vantage point of Easter. We know the end of the story. We know that death isn't final for Jesus. And we know that, if we are in Christ, death and suffering aren't final for us either.
But still, we often keep our eyes fixed on the things of man instead of on the things of God. Even though we know Easter is coming we tend to fixate on the negative, the impossible, and the suffering surrounding us in this life.
The words of Jesus to you today are not unlike the words He spoke to Peter. Trust Him on the road to the resurrection, even if on the road you must walk through suffering, pain, or be asked to bear your own cross. In the natural, these sacrifices seem permanent. But from God's point of view, you are closer to your miracle than you could ever possibly know. The road may be marked with suffering, but resurrection awaits.
Take time today to surrender your path and your life's direction to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In the tough times and the lean days, trust Him. Ask Him to give you His eyes to see what lies ahead.
Lord Jesus, I surrender my plans and my expectations to you. I surrender my pain and my suffering to you. Give me grace to believe your promises and claim the victory you won for me through your resurrection. Amen.
Join us tonight, 6:30pm, at Believers Fellowship for our Ash Wednesday Worship & Prayer Service. 16194 W Hwy 10, Belleville, AR 72824