Cee Mills, Burlington, NC

Warm-up Questions

  • What’s the biggest thing you have sacrificed in order to get to do or have something else?
  • What’s the biggest thing you have gained by being a follower of Jesus?

Lose Your Life?

The idea of losing is counter to what American culture defines as good. When you think of sport teams, contests, or any effort you make, the idea of losing is the opposite of what you expect or want.

I remember the first time I played an organized sport. All of us had a lot to learn and were not proficient at scoring or keeping the other team from scoring. We were young and, honestly, did not care. We were happy to be with our friends and our coach was always smiling. He used to say all the time that showing up was winning.  It was not until I got to school sports teams that I learned about defeat. 

I often wonder what life would have been like if showing up as winning had been the posture of school sports. It’s hard to imagine that in a world so preoccupied with keeping score, measuring performance, and having the most – the most points, the most talents, the most money, the most beauty. I am truly grateful that early on I had a coach who was beyond scores and cared about the more important thing – showing up. Whether we double dribbled, shot the ball in the wrong basket, or fell down and cried – he cheered us, encouraged us, and celebrated us for being there.

Discussion Questions

  • What are some of your early experiences around winning and losing?
  • Who in your life has encouraged you not based on your achievements but just for showing up?
  • How can you encourage others for showing up? 

Second Sunday in Lent

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

Romans 4:13-25

Mark 8:31-38

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year B at Lectionary Readings.

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

Jesus is now in his public ministry. He tells anyone who will listen about the suffering he must undergo.  Jesus speaks of rejection and being martyred. He prophesies about his resurrection. 

I’m sure it was hard to hear. He insults the religious and governmental leaders. He seems to invite disdain and death. It gets so bad that one of his closest disciples, Peter, pulls him aside and demands he stops speaking this way. He wants Jesus to stop; Jesus is speaking of things Peter does not want to happen. He rebukes Jesus.

Jesus turns right around and rejects Peter’s words. The words of Jesus are hard, but they are the way to salvation. Even though Peter is his close friend, anything that is not part of God’s plan must be rejected. Jesus goes so far as to name the source of this rejection of God as Satan – because only Satan would reject the Word of God, even if it is hard. So, Jesus rebukes Peter.

Jesus then turns towards the crowd and explains the cost of following him. If the people there want to be comfortable and safe then this path is not for them. If they want to decide what gets shared and how it gets shared and with whom it gets shared – they are following the wrong one. 

They need to be willing to lose friends, status, family, and their very own lives for the sake of sharing God’s Word in truth, because that will restore the relationship with God. Jesus asks them to choose whom they will follow and lets them know one choice pleases God and the other does not. One choice follows God, and the other does not. If they want to follow God, they need to know that Jesus will not only have to say these hard things, but also follow this hard path, so that the world might be saved. 

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think Peter pulled Jesus aside?
  • When Jesus says, “Get behind me, Satan!” how do you think Peter felt?
  • What was God trying to convey to Peter in this exchange?
  • What does God convey to today’s disciples when Jesus asks, “…what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?”

Activity Suggestions

  • In small groups of two to three, talk about the ways you face the challenges of doing things the Jesus way in everyday life. Share times you were successful and times you were not. Share how you can follow Jesus’ example. (For example,  patience with a sibling. Focus on your own faults and how people showed you patience. Write sticky notes to encourage you to be patient.) 
  • Jesus is trying to get the disciples to understand his reason for coming to earth. On a sheet of paper, tell the story Jesus shared in verse 31 in 20 words or less. Then share your story with three friends.

Closing Prayer

O God, we thank you for the many brave sacrifices you have made for the sake of the world. Help us to see our lives as a gift to you and to be willing to follow you wherever it takes us. Help us to be willing to let go of anything that hinders following you. Amen.