Gospel / Matthew 16:21-27:
Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and 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.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”
Sometimes in life, we find ourselves in situations that possibly could have been avoided if we had only recognized to the signs. Sometimes we even see and understand the signs, but choose to ignore them anyway. As Men As Christ, we are infamous as a gender for ignoring road signs and GPS commands in our pursuit of using our own “inner compasses” to find our way to a destination. But, there is a True Inner Compass within each and every one of us. It’s called our Souls and it is predestined to return us back Home if we would only focus on Christ and follow His lead. It’s what makes a hug feel “warmer” and a sweet victory taste a little “sweeter”. After a hard day’s work, it’s that feeling inside of a “job well done”. In the Old Testament, there are signs everywhere pointing to the coming Messiah – we call them the Messianic Prophesies. The Old Testament includes about 61 different prophecies, with more than 300 references, of the coming of the Messiah. The odds against one person fulfilling just 8 of the prophecies are astronomical – it’s 1 in 10 to the 21st power (21). That’s 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s 10 with 21 zeroes). To illustrate that number, you can blanket the entire Earth’s land mass with silver dollars 120 feet high, specially mark one of those dollars (and randomly bury it), and then ask a person to travel the Earth and select the marked dollar, while blindfolded, from the trillions of other dollars. You’d have better odds at winning the Powerball Lottery jackpot which are estimated at 1 in 292,200,000. Given that Jesus fulfilled every one of them puts the odds of Him not being the Messiah at roughly one chance in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion. But, don’t get too upset at the Jews in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Jesus all, but hits everyone (Jews and Gentiles alike) over the head with what’s about to happen and how He must fulfill His mission on Earth and re-open the Gates of Heaven forever through His death and resurrection. He even references us taking-up our Crosses to follow Him. The very symbol of death (that took the lives of roughly 30,000 people per year during the Roman rule of Jerusalem) would now become The Symbol of Life. And, Jesus told us all directly. He’s still telling us today. An Angel once told me that, “Life is an open Book test; some people just choose not to use the Book.” It’s right in front of us in black, white, and red. Whatever the crosses that we have to bear in life, we need to continue to focus on Christ who bore the ultimate Cross for all of us. He took the weight of all of our sins once and for all. And, if we follow His Signs, He will help us each carry our daily crosses until we are Home with Him in Heaven.