Saturday of the First Week of Lent – February 28, 2015

Today’s Reading: Mark 8:27-38

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” – Mark 8:34

We are saved by faith alone. Yet today many Christians are tempted to think that this means the same thing as the platitude of the eighties pop singer: “You just gotta have faith!” Like other clichés passing for Scripture these days, Jesus never actually says that. Along with faith in Christ comes denial of self and a cross to bear.

Denial of self is contrary to sinful nature. We would rather justify our sinful thoughts, words, and actions because we hate denying ourselves the pleasure of being right, even when we are wrong. Like when Peter denied Jesus, our lives often reveal that we’d rather deny our Lord than our own comfort. Bearing the cross is difficult. If Jesus had said, “Take up your resurrection,” we’d be more willing to follow Him. Resurrection means no sorrow, only joy. But not the cross.

Christ has given new meaning to the cross, however. Our smug selfishness and our cowardice when God calls for confession are sins of commission and omission. These sins Christ Jesus selflessly paid for by His death on the cross. The cross you bear as a Christian includes this Good News. You are saved through faith alone in the self-giving sacrifice Christ made for you on the cross. You are saved through faith alone in Christ alone, even and especially when your selfish sin and heavy cross are too much for you to handle. Cling to Christ’s cross in such times. Follow Him and you will endure, like Him, unto the resurrection.

Prayer: Yea, Lord, ‘twas Thy rich bounty gave My body, soul, and all I have In this poor life of labor. Lord, grant that I in ev’ry place May glorify Thy lavish grace And help and serve my neighbor. Let no false doctrine me beguile; Let Satan not my soul defile. Give strength and patience unto me To bear my cross and follow Thee. Lord Jesus Christ, my God and Lord, my God and Lord, In death Thy comfort still afford. (Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart, LSB 708:2).

This devotion was written by Rev. Stephen Preus, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Vinton, IA.

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