Mark 8:31 includes Jesus saying that he “must undergo” great suffering, and would die at the hands of the temple leaders. Still today, it is regularly debated in the church whether or not Jesus “had” to die. Perhaps this question is best answered in by asking the question in reverse: “Was it possible for Jesus to be 100% committed to God’s will for humanity without facing the burden of the Roman cross?”
Before he performs the miracle of calming the storm, Jesus rebukes the disciples for their fear and their lack of faith. We tend to skip over the rebuke so that we might marvel at the miracle. But skipping the rebuke is just our way to try and tame the story. Jesus isn’t a circus act to be observed, he’s the manifestation of God’s love in flesh, whose faith is a model for faithful discipleship.
While John 3:16 is often used without context, it should be seen as an invitation to see Christ as the focus of recovery from a life that would otherwise lead to death. Recovery begins with having a vision of what new life could look like. Recovery starts by having a path set out before us.
Intervention is necessary when our way of thinking, our desires, our thoughts about right and wrong come in direct contradiction with God’s will as witnessed and proclaimed in the life, ministry, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
We begin Lent in the wilderness, because it is in our wilderness that Christ most closely declares, I walk with you … Christ too has wandered in the wilderness, and his victory is our victory, for neither death nor evil shall overcome.
Even after receiving confirmation of Christ’s identity, the disciples continued to wrangle over rank and precedence, to try and limit who had the ability to speak God’s good news to the world, and they failed to exercise the power of Christ in their daily living and ministry. Sound familiar?