Lent 2 B 2021
What is the cost? That is an important question. And there are many times in our lives when we must ask that question. For example, if you were offered a job out of state, you might have to ask yourself, “Is it worth the cost to uproot your family and move to a new community?”
Or, if you were given the opportunity to buy Dallas Cowboy tickets, is it worth the time, money, and hassle to drive to Dallas to see the game when you can watch it for free on your television set?
This morning in our Gospel text we are told that there is a cost for being a disciple of Christ. And just as there are times in our lives when we must ask the question “What is the cost?” there are also times when we must ask the same question in our faith journey.
Directly before our text today, Jesus asked His disciples the question “Who do people say that I am?” And the disciples gave Him a few answers: The disciples responded John the Baptist, Elijah, or maybe one of the other prophets.
But Peter (the bold one) responded “You are the Messiah.” Peter declared that Jesus was the chosen One, the One whom God chose from before the beginning of the world to be the Savior of the world.
And after Peter confessed that Jesus was the Messiah, Mark wrote that “Jesus began to teach them that the Son of man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”
In other words, Jesus did not come down to us to be our “Good Buddy.” No, Jesus came to be with us for one purpose. And that one purpose was “To Save Us.”
Jesus did this on the Cross, where He suffered through the guilt of our sins and rescued us from the consequence of sin in our lives.
Jesus paid a heavy price for sin. Redemption would not come cheap; the price was high. We hear the high cost when Jesus shouted out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.”
The high cost was very alarming to Peter. And that is why Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked Him. And Jesus, turning and looking at His disciples said to Peter “Get behind me Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
Well… that was not what Peter wanted to hear. And that is not what we want to hear either. We do not want to hear the high cost because we want life to be easy. And we want life to be stress free, and we want our lives to be free from health problems, and family issues, and money woes.
But that is not what the Lord promises us. Instead, Jesus said “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” And so, the question we must ask is “What type of Cross is Jesus talking about?”
And the answer to this question is this… “A Christian Cross is anything that you suffer through because of your faith.” I used to think that we in North America live in a Christian society. But today, that is not always the case.
Today you might get mocked or ridiculed if you do not reject the Biblical truths and accept as truth secular teachings. You might not get that job or promotion if you insist that you need Sundays off so you can worship God at Church on Sunday morning.
Some might call you a hateful and unloving bigot if you do not accept their position of an important social issue due to your comprehension of God’s Word and God’s presence in your life. There are some, perhaps in your own family, who will attack your faith in one way or another due to their misguided interpretation of Jesus and His love.
There are even people who scorn your Christian calling to deny yourself in service of others, to love your neighbor as you love yourself, and feed the hungry and clothe the naked.
As Jesus explained today in our reading “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” In other words, we must resist the temptation to focus just on ourselves and ignore the problems in this world.
Even so, the temptation is great. Due to our human nature, we are selfish and do not want to take care of the needs of other people. We want to take care of number one; we want everything to be about me, myself, and I.
We want a comfortable, care-free life, where no one ridicules us or mocks us. And so, we often fail to deny ourselves and carry our cross. And we give in to our sinful nature.
Why? Because we are short-sighted. And like Peter who had the audacity to rebuke Jesus for talking about His death, we are focused today on the here and now and we lose sight of the blessings God has in store for us.
And that is why Jesus rebuked Peter that day by saying, “Get behind me Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
Peter was focused on earthly, worldly things and the devil was using him to try to convince Jesus not to carry His cross to pay for our earthly sins.
Yes, the cost that Jesus paid for our sins was high.
And the cost to pick up our cross and follow Jesus is also high. Jesus said: “Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the Holy Angels.”
In other words, it is a sin to refuse to carry our cross, and so when we refuse to pick up our cross, we deserve nothing but God’s wrath and punishment. But there is Good News in all of this. Today when we look upon the cross, we see that the cross is empty – Jesus is no longer there. And Jesus is no longer in the tomb either. Jesus did not just talk about His death, He talked about His resurrection as well.
And that is exactly what happened. When Jesus was raised from the dead, we know that His payment for our sin was accepted by the Father. Therefore, today when our cross seems too heavy to bear, we have the blessing of looking past the current discomfort and focusing our attention on the perfect and eternal life that awaits us in heaven.
Yes, the cost of being a Christian is high. Satan tries to convince us that the cost is not worth it. But Jesus did think it was worth it. And he lived His life perfectly for us.
And then Jesus took a cross upon himself as payment for our sins and to save us from eternal death. And that is why today, we can rejoice in Christ and His cross and gladly take up our own cross and follow Him.
Let us pray: Merciful father, we confess that we have squandered your blessings and turned our backs on your love. Help us to repent and return to you, confident that you will welcome us as your sons and daughters. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.