Call It What It Is: The Bloody Truth - True Discipleship, Sacrifice, and the Unfiltered Gospel 

2nd Sunday in Lent - 2/25/2024 |  Mark 8:31-38

The Threat to Freedom of Speech and Truth: Exposing Ideological Aggressors 

In today's world, we are confronted by numerous ideologies and movements, such as wokeism, Marxism, and political correctness. Unfortunately, these movements often pose a threat to the fundamental principles of freedom of speech and commitment to truth. 

One way this threat manifests is through the deliberate avoidance of labeling things accurately. The goal of these forces is to exert control by suppressing our freedom to express empirically and demonstratively true statements. These ideological aggressors employ a range of methods, both legal and illegal, peaceful and forceful, to prevent individuals from speaking fundamental truths. 

For example, they seek to stifle discussions around the binary nature of human sexes—male and female—or the acknowledgment that a fetus is undeniably a fully human being. Moreover, dissenting voices are silenced when questioning the fluidity of gender or challenging practices such as homosexuality, gender fluidity, transgenderism, and abortion.

The Desire for Control and the Rejection of Divine Laws 

At the core of these anti-truth ideologies lies a desire for absolute control over the narrative of truth. Those who adhere to these ideologies aim not only to dictate what is considered truth but also to dominate thoughts, beliefs, and many aspects of our lives. Their underlying motivation is to assume a godlike status, rejecting accountability to a higher creator and defining good and evil based on their desires and will, without regard for divine laws and principles.

On the other hand, recognizing the existence of evil in the world necessitates acknowledging a personal force perpetuating that evil—the devil. Conversely, acknowledging the presence of evil logically leads to recognizing a force for good—God, the Creator.

Jesus Confronts Evil and Satanic Logic

In the Gospel reading, Jesus fearlessly confronts and identifies evil, accusing one of his close followers of aligning with the evil one, addressing him as "Satan." The term "Satan," rooted in the Hebrew word for an adversary, signifies an ancient force opposed to God.

This adversarial entity has deceived humanity into thinking that it knows better than God, creating a paradigm where thoughts, desires, and actions opposing God's will are inherently evil and satanic. The primary battleground for this opposition is the plan of saving sinners, particularly through the means of salvation—the cross of Jesus.

Taking up One's Cross vs. Satanic Thinking 

The narrative unfolds innocuously, with Peter confessing Jesus as Christ, the Son of the Living God. However, as Jesus straightforwardly reveals His true mission as Christ, involving suffering, rejection, and death, Peter's understanding clashes with this reality.

Peter, driven by a glorified vision of Christ, rebukes Jesus, leading to a scolding exchange. Jesus, unafraid to confront satanic logic, rebukes Peter with the stern declaration, "Get behind me, Satan! You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

This encounter illustrates the satanic nature of Peter's logic, rooted in the world's perspective that might is right and weakness is for losers. Jesus, in contrast, upholds the theology of the cross—a theology of suffering that leads to eternal glory. Peter's response, though well-intentioned, aligns with satanic thinking, opposing God's divine plan.

The Unfiltered Truth of the Cross and the Necessity of Jesus's Sacrifice 

Today, there is a desire to sanitize the gospel, removing its offensive elements. Some advocate for a more palatable image of God—one in control, triumphing over enemies—rather than a God who endures suffering and injustice. However, the unfiltered truth remains: without Jesus shedding His blood, individuals face the full weight of eternal punishment for their sins.

The conventional image of a conquering general or a handsome figure doesn't align with God's portrayal of a suffering servant—despised, forsaken, a man of sorrows pierced for iniquities. The crux of God's glory lies in shedding innocent blood for guilty sinners. This theme of sacrificial bloodshed is pervasive throughout history, from the Old Covenant sacrificial system to Jesus's ultimate sacrifice on the cross.

The Natural Man's Rejection of Spiritual Truths 

The apostle Paul emphasizes that the natural man rejects spiritual truths, considering them foolishness. Those who follow after the world become enemies of God, similar to the prince of this world who opposes divine principles.

Imagine a scenario where a preacher fills a church with a sanitized gospel, avoiding the mention of blood, the cross, repentance, or the need for God's sacrificial love. This approach, while seemingly appealing, leads individuals astray, offering false hopes and endangering their souls.

The Unapologetic Proclamation of the Bloody Truth 

The world requires an unapologetic proclamation of the unfiltered truth rather than political correctness or watered-down messages. The only savior is the bloodied, battered God of the cross. Proclaiming this bloody truth invites opposition from God's enemies. Yet, it is also the sole message that brings salvation. Following the real Christ entails bearing a cross, and enduring scorn, shame, pain, and trouble for His followers.

Taking up One's Cross in Discipleship 

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus introduces the concept of the cross not merely as an instrument of His sacrifice but as a symbol of the challenges accompanying discipleship. The vivid image of Roman crucifixions emphasizes the unavoidable reality of this cross—both Jesus's and that of His followers.

Jesus unequivocally declares, "Whoever desires to follow me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.

The disciples, witnessing Roman cruelties, understand the profound nature of the cross—a symbol of sacrifice, suffering, and death. Jesus assures those who aspire to follow Him that there is no escape from this cross, emphasizing that suffering is an inherent aspect of discipleship.

Exchanging Convenient Religion for Truth 

Contemporary expectations often clash with the essence of discipleship. Many desire a hassle-free religion, resenting God for introducing challenges or discomfort into their lives. Worship services are expected to be comfortable, with concise sermons, easily sung hymns, and short durations, catering to convenience rather than sacrifice.

The modern inclination is to seek freedom to switch off Christianity when convenient, adapting to societal norms without boldly proclaiming the unfiltered truth of Christ. Yet, Jesus's discipleship demands a rejection of satanic ideologies and a living embodiment of truth. The shame of Jesus's cross paves the way for eternal glory, sanctifying the crosses borne by his followers.

When disciples share in the sufferings of Christ, they participate in a sanctifying experience, rejecting what is satanic and embracing the truth. Peter's journey involves learning that the cross of discipleship is not a punishment but a means of sharing in Christ's suffering. The disciples, like Peter, are called to rejoice in the face of opposition, recognizing that the spirit of God rests upon them.

Call It What It is: The True Path to Salvation and Eternal Glory 

The world needs the unapologetic proclamation of the bloody truth. The only savior is the bloodied God of the Cross. While this message invites opposition, it is also the path to salvation.

Discipleship involves taking up our crosses, making sacrifices, suffering, and even death. The real Christ calls for unfiltered truth, rejecting sanitized versions that dilute the essence of salvation. By boldly proclaiming the bloody truth, you as a disciple participate in the sanctifying power of the cross, rejoicing in the face of opposition and following the path to eternal glory.

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