22A20. Jeremiah 20:7-9. Jeremiah carries his cross at great cost and pain to him by following what the Lord wants of him. Following the Lord’s will, he opposed the idolatry that had taken ahold of Judea and he was severely ridiculed for it. “All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me.” When Jeremiah tries to no longer speak in God’s name, a force like a raging fire burns in him so that he can no longer stop preaching against the idolatry in Judea.
Matthew 16:21-27. When Jesus tells his disciples that he must suffer, be killed and rise on the third day, Peter, having just been named by Jesus as the pope of his after he ascends up to heaven, privately rebukes Jesus for saying such a thing. Jesus then “said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.’” Peter, thinking according to the commonly held notion that the Messiah would be a conquering king who would drive the occupying Roman force out of Judea, could not imagine why Jesus would say that he would be killed and then rise from the dead. As creatures of this earth, this earth’s ways can easily dominate us and be our life’s force by which we live. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” The world teaches us to think and feel as it does. Jesus is telling us to die to living and thinking by the world’s ways but rather to live from God’s life within us. Jesus said in John 15:5b&c, “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” Paul wrote in Galatians 2:19c-20: “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.” Paul is saying that he is no longer his own life but God is life for him. As far as Paul is concerned, God is his only life; he no longer is his life’s force. That former life or way of living is dead. His life in God is his life now and forever.
Romans 12: 1-2. Paul wrote: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” True life, the life that is forever, is living in the love that God has for us. With the help of the Holy Spirit we die day by day to what is not of God so that we breathe in God’s gracious life. Jesus is the life that is the only real life; all else is mirage or a sham. Praise be to the loving Lord!