Saturday 29 November, 2014
THE TEACHER'S EXAMWhoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.(vss 24-25)
This is the end of our weeklong learning from Jesus. Normally, a class ends with an exam. In our case, there also seems to be an exam. The teaching has been presented to us, and now is the time to put the whole thing into the practice.
The disciples in today’s story have listened to Jesus much longer than just a week. They have asked questions, commented on the teaching, and sometimes also offered their opinion about it. They seem to have learned their lesson. Just recently, Peter has openly confessed his faith, saying that Jesus is indeed the Son of the living God (v.16). Jesus calls him blessed.
But almost immediately after that powerful confession, Peter also makes an open suggestion that Jesus – the Messiah – should certainly not go through suffering and death (v.22). And perhaps just this bold suggestion from Peter, estimated by Jesus as a serious failure in mastering the lessons, leads Jesus to his challenge: ‘If anyone would come after me ... ’
Here is our exam. What have we learned during this week? If we have really learned the lesson about Jesus being the Messiah, and about the divine call to follow him, then the message about the cross should neither surprise nor frighten us. Jesus does not expect us to understand this difficult lesson in its fullness. I believe that today we are challenged just to demonstrate our trust and faith. Do we trust Jesus enough to follow him regardless of circumstances?
Prayer † Lord Jesus, help us to become your real followers. We do need more faith and trust, and you have said that the faith is God’s gift. Teach us to be more open to this gift in our life. Amen.
The World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) is a fellowship of 75 million Reformed Christians in 214 churches in 107 countries. Its member churches are Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed and United churches with roots in the 16th-century Reformation led by John Calvin, John Knox and others. WARC has a small secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.