|Theme:||Take up your cross and follow Jesus. Proper 19/Ordinary 24, Year B|
|Object:||Use a variety of crosses (Bookmark, gold necklace, key chain, wall hanging, etc.)|
|Scripture:||Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Mark 8:34 (NIV)|
I have something to show you. (Hold up one of the crosses.) You know what this is, don't you? Of course you do, it is a cross. I have several crosses to show you. Here is a cross on a chain that you can wear around your neck. Here is a bookmark made in the shape of a cross, and this is a beautiful cross that is made to be hung on a wall.
Every day we see crosses all around us. People wear them as jewelry, they hang them on the wall, and they use them as key chains. When you pass by a church, it is not unusual to see a cross on the steeple. We even see many people who wear the cross as a tattoo on their body. What comes to your mind when you see a cross? What does the cross mean to you? Is it just a piece of jewelry or a work of art?
One day, as Jesus and his disciples were walking along a road, Jesus asked them, "Who do people say that I am?"
The disciples answered, "Some say John the Baptist or one of the prophets."
"And you - who do you say that I am?" Jesus replied.
Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Messiah."
Peter had given the right answer. You would think that would be the end of Jesus' lesson, but it wasn't. "Keep it quiet and don't breathe a word of it to anyone," Jesus said, "because it is necessary for me to suffer many terrible things. I will be arrested, tried, and killed, but after three days I will rise again."
Peter didn't like that! He took Jesus aside and told him to stop talking like that.
Jesus reprimanded Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are looking at things from a human point of view, not from God’s."
Then Jesus called the the crowd of people who had gathered around to come and join him and his disciples. "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it."
So, what does it mean to us? It means that we have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who was willing to give up everything so that we could have everlasting life. It also means that those of us who want to be his followers must also be willing to take up our cross, give up everything, and follow him.
The cross - it is so much more than a piece of jewelry, a work of art, or a decoration on a steeple. It is a reminder of our Savior's great love for us and our call to follow him!
Heavenly Father, thank you that you loved us so much that you sent your Son to die on a cross. As his disciples, help us to take our cross and follow him. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
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