Text – Mark 8:31-38:
31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel,[a] will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words[b] in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Peter must have felt proud of his answer. Like an algebra class student who gives the answer to the teacher’s sample problem on the white board. “X equals 22, Mr. Jones.” Only x doesn’t equal 22 and to Peter’s answer Jesus said, “Don’t tell anyone what you just said.”
The wrong algegra answer may be self-evident, but Peter’s wrong answer probably left everyone scratching their head. “Why wouldn’t you want us to tell others that?” And it’s the same problem we have today. Do we really know the full truth of Jesus’ claim?
Jesus’ correction of what Peter was claiming is found later in the passage when Jesus says, “Get away from me Satan! You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s. If any of you want to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross and follow me.”
The modern-day view of Jesus is a lot like Peter’s. Triumphalism. Storming the Capital. Kick out the Romans. Megachurch. Full service worship. Getting the job I want. But it’s not what Jesus was thinking.
The way of Christ leads to a cross.
God of the cross. How much we want a success gospel! But that is not what you promised us. You said your way leads to death of self. Death of ambition and ladder-climbing. So we pray that you will awaken us to the life of service and humility. Help us to embrace and follow the mind of Jesus. To the victory of the Kingdom where people take up towels and feeding the hungry. In Jesus’ name we pray this. Amen.