The text for this week reminds me of a curious experience I had as a youth pastor years ago. This text was the base for a Wednesday night bible study soon after I arrived on the job. I did my best to experientially teach my new group what Jesus was saying, and how it might look to live this out at the local high school. Afterwards, one of the brightest and most dedicated students came up to me and said, “I still don’t get it. What does it mean to pick up your cross?”

The bluntness of her question has sent me on a years-long search for deeper understanding of this text. And still, it puzzles me, amazes me, challenges me, orients me, and inspires me! I invite you to dig more deeply with me, to set aside easy answers, and to search together for what God is saying through this interesting text beloved by Mennonites for centuries.

Scripture for Sunday March 8, 2009 is Mark 8:31-38. Some of my own questions about this text include:

  • What are examples today of what Jesus called “setting our minds not on divine things but on human things”?
  • What did “pick up your cross and follow me” mean to the disciples, who heard this before Jesus was even crucified? What did it mean to Mark’s original audience? What does it mean for us?
  • Peter in 8:32 rebukes Jesus, seemingly because Jesus pushed him too far out of this comfort zone. What are your thoughts about this James McLendon quote? “Had [the disciples] had their way, there would have been no cross; had [Jesus] had his, there would have been thirteen. They declined the honor.” 
  • How through our worship and devotional practices can we form one another to be the type of people who “lose their life for Jesus sake”?
  • How do we live this text out in March 2009 in Houston, Texas, USA?

We’ll meet for the first time at my house on March 3 and study the texts for Sunday March 8th.

In true Anabaptist fashion, let’s together discern this text. Feel free to write in here on the discussion board your responses to these questions, or other questions this text brings up for you.
And/or, feel free to join a group of people interested in meeting at the pastor’s house to discern together what these texts are saying to us in Houston. Tuesday night, 8-9PM.