Lent – “Satan”

Read Mark 8:31-37

31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” 34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?

During the season of Lent, Christians ask the question: ‘What does it mean to be a faithful disciple of Jesus? In this text, Jesus tells us what it means to follow: it is a call to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and trust that, in giving of ourselves, we will discover the essence of abundant life God has in store for us.

  • What does it mean to deny ourselves? Or said another way, what “self” are we called to deny?
  • What does it mean to take up our cross?

There are lots of things as we go through life that try to get us to go another way. Lots of voices that try to overpower the voice of God and steer us away from the call of God on our lives. The word in the Bible often translated as Satan means accuser, opponent, adversary. Satan is anything that tries to stand between us and God’s will for our life. We call our adversaries by different names: doubt, fear, pride, addiction, hatred, anger, greed, insecurity, and a million others.

  • Have you heard this definition of Satan before? Is it different than how you typically think of Satan?
  • What are the adversaries in your life that try to lure you away from following the way of God?
  • What helps you distinguish between God’s voice and Satan’s voice?

To follow the way of the cross is risky, counter-cultural, opposite of what our world tells us is the point of life.

  • Has there been a risk you’ve considered taking that feels like it comes from God? What keeps you from taking the risk?
  • What in your life helps you resist the power of Satan and follow the voice of God?

The call to take up our cross is a call to accompany those who suffer, to be with those who are marginalized or judged by society, to go into the trenches, to let God lead us out of our comfort zone, to live not for ourselves but for God and for others.

  • How do you practice this self-emptying love in your life?
  • How could you practice it?

Our faith tells us that, when we let the adversary win, when we choose comfort over vulnerability, or our own gain over the path God has set for us, we rarely find true life. We might get the money, or the promotion, or the knowledge that our job is safe, but one has to wonder over time, how does this affect our soul? What kind of life could we discover if we, instead, said to our adversaries what Jesus says to his, “Get behind me Satan?”

  • Do you feel alive? How is your soul today?