He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
Rev. Mary Holder Naegeli
Adjunct Instructor, Fuller Seminary
It is tempting to think that when we come to know Christ—perhaps at a time of great trouble or trial—life circumstances should suddenly improve or personal needs be met. For many, the stated reason for entering into relationship with the Savior is to feel better, attain inner peace, overcome an addiction, or otherwise experience a better life. [Think about what you have expected of Jesus in the last week or two!] This desire is not entirely bad, but should be held lightly and cautiously. To the person who thinks that life in Christ guarantees painless existence, unchallenged assumptions, or self-gratification, today’s passage points to an upside-down reality. Jesus says, “Losing is saving” and “It’s not about you!”
If one views Jesus Christ only as the winnertakeall, victorious, overcoming Messiah—the prevailing view of the expected Anointed One—one is baffled by the Suffering Servant (the picture Isaiah envisions in Is 53:2b5). Even Peter was illprepared to accept Jesus’ notion that he was to accomplish his Messiah role through rejection, suffering, and execution. And Jesus rebuked him in front of the others—it was that important to set the record straight!
So the question for us is this: Have we failed to recognize that Christ fulfilled his role through suffering and that his disciples, walking in his footsteps, must also bear their crosses for the sake of the Kingdom? Are we holding on to the Christian Life only as a means of personal profit or benefit, or have we accepted the cross of selfdenial (putting other people first, denying our own priority or needs)? What we are “guaranteed” is that Jesus is walking alongside us even through the troubles, and from that position is doing some of the heavy lifting to make his “yoke easy and burden light.” (Mt 11:30).
Lord, life’s burdens are too heavy for me to carry alone, but I bear them willingly if doing so will witness to your suffering and death for my salvation and the world’s redemption.