Hey friends! As you may have noticed, Austin and I were under the radar yesterday. But we have still been going through Mark, and we hope you have as well! Today, we are going to be walking through chapters 8 & 9 as we continue to celebrate His coming. If you are just joining us, welcome! We hope you will check out the full series as you join us for the reading of Mark 8 and 9. Now let’s dig right in.

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And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

(Mark 8:31–9:1 ESV)

I don’t know about you, but I am a serious Christmas lover. I put up my Christmas tree mid-November and keep it up until mid-January. I leave a Christmas playlist going all season long. I make Christmas candy with my family. I diffuse Christmas oils and light Christmas candles and have the tree lit the whole time.

This year, as I enjoy all these things, I am reminded a little extra of one of the main characters of this Christmas story we spend the season celebrating. This year, I am carrying a baby of my own–though certainly not a baby who will save the world–so my heart is close to the heart of Mary as we prepare to celebrate her son.

It’s easy to focus on the fluffy, joyful things during this time of year. We like to imagine a baby who didn’t cry on a nice, soft straw bed, surrounded by animals that were bowing down, probably smelling like fresh pinewood.

At least, that’s how we set up our nativity scenes.

That was probably not the reality of that night. Jesus was fully human, meaning he was fully baby. He probably cried, screamed even. The manger probably had animal saliva in it, no matter how clean they tried to get it. Jesus was probably pricked by the sharp straw which likely made him cry even more. A bunch of strangers who Mary and Joseph didn’t know came into the stable to marvel over their Son.

And the animals certainly did NOT smell like pinewood.

Yet this was God’s plan for the birth of His Son. Probably the least-sanitary, most-stressful scenario for delivering a child. And a perfect depiction to what being obedient to God looks like in so many situations.

Even before this day, Mary and Joseph had endured their fair share of Spiritual warfare surrounding the birth of their child. Mary was unmarried and pregnant. Certainly not a good situation for in the culture of the time. Joseph would be looked down upon by his community for raising this child who either wasn’t his or was conceived during their betrothment.

Joseph didn’t even believe what Mary had told him until God Himself made it clear to Joseph.

When the angel came to Mary and told her she would be the mother of God’s Son, it would have been understood that this would not be an easy road.

She knew that her obedience would cost.

It would cost her reputation, her comfort, maybe even her marriage.

And still, she was obedient. Still, before her Son had even spoken the words, she was faithful to carry her cross. 

Jesus’ make-shift cradle is a beautiful thing to celebrate, but we cannot celebrate it without realizing its cost. We cannot celebrate Him without true obedience to carry our own cross.

At no point did Jesus promise comfort in our following Him. In fact, He promised that we would be uncomfortable.

We like to look at this passage and imagine Jesus walking up calvary with His cross only to be resurrected again in three days. But that’s not what the disciples saw when He uttered these words at first. He had yet to be killed, and they had no idea how or when it would happen.

The disciples knew nothing of crucifixion other than it was the most horrible way to die for the most despised of criminals. They understood that Jesus was telling them that they would be despised, rejected, and maybe even killed all for the glory of the Kingdom of God.

He was asking them to press forward regardless.

Just like He asked Mary to press forward regardless.

So this Christmas season, as we celebrate joy, let us not neglect the fact that that celebration comes with a cost. It comes with the promise that we will follow regardless of reputation. We will pray not that God would take away our persecution, but that His Spirit would be made known through if it is His will.

Let us ask Him what He would have of us with willing hearts.

Then let us celebrate.

Let us sing a song like Mary sang, blissfully celebrating that God would use her even through hardship.

I can’t imagine being asked by God to have this baby and then have to give her up. Even if it was for the good of the world. I can’t imagine moving forward in that calling with so much hope. But praise God that the same Spirit that walked with her lives in me.

So Spirit, move in me no matter the cost. Move me to celebrate Jesus by giving my life over to Him completely.

Move in me to celebrate the cradle with full hope in the defeating of the cross.

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Thanks again for joining us today! No video to watch today, but we will be back tomorrow. In the meantime, check out the other videos we have filmed as we walk through this Scripture. Love you guys and see you tomorrow!

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