READ : Matthew 16:21-27
Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must … suffer many things. (v. 21, NIV)
When my daughter was three, she turned to me one day in church and said, “Jesus died on the cross.” Thinking she was sad about this, I tried to cheer her by reminding her that Jesus rose from the dead. Her next words surprised me: “He should be more careful next time!”
We are all tempted to have a cross-free Christianity. Many of us squirmed while watching the movie The Passion of the Christ. We don’t like to ponder Jesus’ suffering at length – and we certainly don’t want to suffer for him if we can avoid it! We wonder why we can’t skip the pain of the gospel message and the Christian life and get right to the pleasant parts about forgiveness and eternal life.
Jesus makes it clear that his sacrificial death was central to his mission. The cross is crucial to Christians (in fact, the word crucial comes from the word cross). Jesus’ rebuke of Peter suggests that to try to remove the cross from Christianity is to be in league with the devil himself.
Satan doesn’t like anyone to talk about sacrificial love, let alone demonstrate it. But such love is crucial for our salvation – and our imitation of Christ.
Lord, help me always to fix my eyes on Jesus, who endured the cross for me.