Second Sunday in Lent
In today’s reading, Mark recounts the first time Jesus speaks plainly to his disciples and foretells what is to happen to him. Up to now, Jesus has taught in parables for the most part. He has traveled with his disciples, teaching, healing, and performing miraculous acts. He has even sent his disciples out on their own, giving them authority over unclean spirits. But now, after all they’ve been through and experienced together, it’s time to tell them that life as they know it is about to change radically. He, the Son of Man, will suffer, be rejected, scorned and killed, and will rise again in three days.
Peter can’t believe this will happen. His words to convince Jesus not to go to the cross remind Jesus of how he was tempted in the wilderness to choose earthly delights over His Father’s will. He recognizes both attempts as the work of Satan. He tells Peter and the throng that has assembled that although physical life may be saved by denying Him, eternal life will be lost. What good will it do a person to gain this earthly world, but lose the promise of everlasting life? A person who denies Jesus now will likewise be denied entry into the kingdom when Jesus returns in glory.
How easy it is for all of us to become so consumed by our earthly problems and so wrapped up in our sinful ways and temptations that we forget who created us, who sustains us, and what this Creator has ordained for us. It’s been especially easy to lose focus this year, in many ways, since we’ve had our worlds turned upside down by a global pandemic and unprecedented strife. In other ways, perhaps we’ve been more attuned than ever to God’s calling, since the earthly road we travel has been so strewn with problems that we’ve known just how badly we need help to get through it all. God wants us to remember that He’s always there, not only holding us up through each of life’s challenges, but also teaching us and equipping us for the life of salvation He has promised in His son.