[ Reading :: Mark 8:34-38 ]

Meditation ::.

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves.” Just as in denying Christ Peter said, “I do not know the man,” so also should each disciple say this to herself or himself. Self-denial can never be defined as some profusion—be it ever so great—of individual acts of self-torment or of asceticism. It is not suicide, since there, too, a person’s self-will can yet assert itself. Self-denial means knowing only Christ, and no longer oneself. It means seeing only Christ, who goes ahead of us, and no longer the path that is too difficult for us. Again, self-denial is saying only: He goes ahead of us; hold fast to him.

“...and take up their cross.” In his compassion, Jesus has prepared his disciples for this statement by speaking first of self-denial. Only if we have genuinely, completely forgotten ourselves, such that we no longer know ourselves, can we be prepared to bear the cross for his sake. If we know only him, then we no longer know the pain of our own cross, as we are seeing only him. If Jesus had not prepared us so amicably for this statement, we could not bear it. As it is, however, he has enabled us to perceive even this harsh statement as a blessing. We encounter it in the joy of discipleship, and draw strength from it.

The cross is not adversity, nor the harshness of fate, but suffering coming solely from our commitment to Jesus Christ. The suffering of the cross is not fortuitous, but necessary. The cross is not the suffering tied to natural existence, but the suffering tied to being Christians. The cross is never simply a matter of suffering and rejection, but a matter of suffering and rejecting for the sake of Jesus Christ...

—From Meditations of the Cross by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

? Have you denied your self and taken up your cross...

realizing Jesus goes ahead of you and all you can do is hold fast to him ?