Silence and Stillness before God (2 minutes)
Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
One day Jesus left the crowds to pray alone. Only his disciples were with him, and he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other ancient prophets risen from the dead.” Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”Peter replied, “You are the Messiah sent from God!” Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone who he was. “The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things,” he said. “He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.” Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God.”
The disciples were out in a boat in the middle of a storm when Jesus walked on water toward them. As soon as Jesus stepped into the boat, the storm stopped. The disciples worshipped Jesus, confessing, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Shortly afterward, Peter declared, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” In each Gospel, Peter’s proclamation is followed by Jesus’ first prediction of his coming death.
Revelations are often followed by trials. After speaking of his death Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”
Without question, Take up Your Cross and Die was not the slogan the Twelve were hoping to champion when they became Jesus’ followers.
Consider doing a “Bridegroom Fast,” where the ache to eat an earthly meal serves to kindle an ache to partake in the “wedding supper of the Lamb.”
Question to Consider
Can you think of a time in the Bible or in your own life when a great revelation from God was followed by a trial? What have you given up to follow Jesus, and how has it been worth it?
Jesus, you ask us to give up things to be able to follow you. Some of these things are harmful to us and hold us back from you. Some of these things are good things – our own hopes and dreams and visions of what we imagined our lives to be. Thank you, Jesus, that although you ask us to give up these things to follow you, you have followed your request with a promise: if we lose our life, we will save it. And the life you give is so much better than anything we could imagine.
Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)
The 40 days of decrease blogs have been inspired by the book “40 Days of Decrease” by Alicia Britt Chole.