In the first verse of our Gospel (Mark 8:31-38) Jesus announces that he will be "rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes." How could they reject the long-awaited Messiah who had come to save them? They were so satisfied with Jesus' teachings, miracles, and his endorsement of their congregation's ministry, that they missed the primary purpose of Jesus' life. Jesus was sent by God to die a sacrificial death on our behalf to save us from "sin, death, and the devil." The religious people in Jesus' day were much like we are today. We like to dwell upon all the blessings of our life with Jesus, the fellowship of our congregation, and all the wonderful things about being a Lutheran. And yet, we so easily lose sight of what Christianity is really all about--the cross of Christ. In this Gospel lesson Jesus is getting down to the basics and begins to teach that "the Son of man must suffer many things…and be killed, and after three days rise again" (v.31). Peter, like we in the church, accept Jesus as the Messiah. We are sincere, loyal, and openly thank God for all the blessings and miracles in our lives. However, Jesus had to correct Peter, as he regularly corrects us through His voice in the Scripture. Too often we are attracted to Jesus for all the wrong reasons. Jesus drives home this point with the words, "If anyone wants to be with me, they must forget self, carry the cross, and follow me." And then, Jesus added one of the most mystical teachings he ever spoke: "Whoever tries to save their life will lose it; and whoever loses their life for my sake and the Gospel will save it" (v. 35). In other words, we spend nearly our entire existence concerning ourselves with ourselves. If truth be told, our daily lives are hardly effective by an awareness and appreciation for Jesus' death on the cross. Jesus is confronting the issue of priorities in our lives. What priority does the cross have in our experience of worship? Is the cross the most important message in our Scripture reading…In telling others about what it means to be a Christian do we dwell on the cross? As our primary motivation to help others are we empowered by the cross? Is our financial support of Trinity's mission and ministry made possible by the cross? We are reminded of St. Paul's teaching, "Christianity is Christ crucified."