Wednesday, March 9, 2011

March 9, 2011

The Gospel message is full of passages warning against spiritual luke-warmness and wishy-washy commitments. We are exhorted to let our yeses be "Yes" and our nos be "No." Unfortunately, to the matter of Ash Wednesday and Lent, modern Presbyterians usually respond with a loud "Maybe."

John Calvin was not a fan of Lent because he thought that the church had moved its emphasis, which he believed should have been as a time of spiritual preparation in recognition of both Moses on Mount Sinai and Jesus in the Wilderness. That's why I like churches which orient their Lenten calendars around thinks like new-member study groups, and so forth.

I thought that in that regard I might use the Lenten period to relate, with minimal commentary, what to me seem to be central passages of the Bible. So, here's my contribution for today. It is Mark 8: 34-36 (from the English Standard Version):

And he [Jesus] called to him the crowd with his disciples and said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? What can a man give in return for his life?"

Minimal comments: 1 ) This passage comes immediately after Peter has recognized Jesus as the Messiah, but then Peter begins to negotiate with Jesus that he, Peter, not Jesus, knows best about how to organize the life of the Messiah. Jesus responds with "Get behind me, Satan." 2 ) The same greek word is used for "life" and "soul" and denotes breath or intrinsic life force or spirit, not bodily, medical "life."

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