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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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The silence of God | Dying and denial

He said, ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.’

Then he said to them all: ‘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.’

LUKE 9:22–24

 


 

He’s just told them. The Son of Man must suffer many things, be rejected, be killed, and on the third day be raised to life.

These are the headlines. Jesus will die a slow and difficult death. And on the third day he will rise.

But now comes the small print, the part that will affect them for the rest of their lives. If you would come after me, he says, then take up your cross, too. If you want to save your life, then first you must lose it for my sake.

Luke records no response from the disciples to these words. What, after all, could they say? How could they understand what it would be like to have the cross pressed into their flesh, to drink the cup that Jesus would drink?

We speak rarely of these things. Lent, historically, has been the time to consider the dying intrinsic to discipleship. But even then, truth be told, we prefer a gospel of easy resurrection. We prefer that both cross and tomb are empty. For suffering is never a crowd-pleaser.

It fascinates me that these words about denial and death precede each gospel account of the transfiguration. Jesus wants us to know that there is no glory without first walking the path of greatest grief. No resurrection without first the cross.

These days preceding Easter remind us that discipleship means dying. For many reading this, the dying is often less than literal, perhaps a series of small choices to deny ourselves related to what we consume or to those pleasures that crowd out Jesus from our lives. Lent can be, for us, a time for small and chosen sufferings.

Yet there are also unchosen sufferings in the life of faith. For some, dying means literally losing their life for the testimony of Jesus. For others, it may mean losing siblings, parents, or children on account of his name. Or the dying may encompass loss of reputation, finances, health, or meaningful work – losses that might, at first glance, have little to do with Jesus. Yet each represents an opportunity to offer our dying to God. And each carries within it a seed of resurrection hope.

I wonder what those in our everyday lives will make of all this dying, if and when we let them see it? And what if, this Lent, we show them a God who has lived it alongside us – the dying but also a glorious, hopeful rising?

Dr Chloe Lynch
Lecturer in Practical Theology, London School of Theology

What kind of dying might lie ahead of you this Lent? And how might you witness resurrection hope to the people around you? Join the conversation below.

Comments

  1. Thank you

    By Ann Martin  -  19 Feb 2024
  2. This is difficult to write as there is much going on, much uncertainty, hurt. Not ashamed to admit that I am reduced to tears frequently, mostly when alone to protect my family and even now; which makes typing difficult.
    Well, this Lent sees my family and myself in the process of packing up our lives in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and finally returning home to the UK to do, what??
    We were both in international missionary education and have found the horrifying spectacle of the school leadership collapsing from a biblical world perspective to one very much aligned to the ways of the world; to our faces lying, being deceitful, slandering, bullying… My wife has taken it particularly hard and suffered a crisis of faith.
    So now we find ourselves in preparation to leave. We have a possible plan for the future, opening a B&B on the South coast. There was a thought of retirement, but with a 5 year old daughter, (late 50’s with a 5 year old: God does have a sense of humour!), we will need to provide for her for some time.
    So, what do we do? We pray and have found a sense of peace around our activities. Not totally as we try and marshal the 101 things that need to be done and occasionally collide, (or implode).
    The world does it best to try us, so we look to the corner stone of our lives; The Cross of Christ and we live in the Hope that what is going on is all part of His plan.
    So what are we giving up this season? Our old way of life as we know it. And in its place, we are unsure apart from being where God wants us.
    Another friend has recently gone through a similar experience, (at a different school), and is looking at returning home to the UK as well. They are grateful for the advice and support that we can give having started down this path some months in advance. All part of the plan…?

    By Christian Atkins  -  19 Feb 2024
  3. Sunday’s song hits home….And day by day I know He will renew me! Come Lord Jesus come.

    By Mark Knight  -  20 Feb 2024

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