31 He (Jesus) then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
33 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 concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” 34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
I hear it a lot; “I believe in God reverend John,” and “I pray every day reverend John,” and again “I read my Bible every night reverend John,” these statements come from people who try to convince me that they are spiritual and that God is happy with them because of the things that they do. Depending on their mental acuity I generally just shake my head politely and congratulate them for their efforts, but you, I suspect that your mental ability is more stable than the people I generally work with. So if you have heard yourself saying these sorts of things out loud or in your mind you need to stop it, because all it does is trick you into feeling justified in a shallow puddle of faith. I work with people who are mentally feeble and so I let things go with them, however, with you, I expect more – and so does Jesus.
Today, let’s focus on two main things: first, Peter’s concern for the things of this world and second, Jesus’ goal for your faith is that you become a disciple, not just be a believer.
“Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
I think this sums me up most of the time. Many people think that because I am in the full time ministry that I am some sort of super-spiritual giant. And while I am engaged in churchy stuff more than most I have to admit that I struggle with my faith in many of the same ways that you do. I won’t air my dirty laundry here but please believe me when I assure you that living a life of faith is always tough because all of us are too easily distracted by the things of this world. I often think I am spiritually worse than others because I do the church thing for a living. Sort of like the mechanic who works on cars all day and doesn’t want to fix his own car when he gets home. Like Peter, we all battle with a spiritual reality that doesn’t always make sense to us.
We shouldn’t be too tough on Peter though, by rebuking Jesus Peter was just pointing out how He was wrong because an executed Messiah was not what they had been taught in Sabbath school. The Messiah they all were taught would come and lead the Israelites to overthrow Roman rule and restore sovereignty of the Nation of Israel. Foul is not something that should be called on Peter because his brain just couldn’t compute a Messiah any other way.
Don’t we all do this? When someone broaches a subject that is outside of the spiritual or political understanding that we already have which doesn’t agree with what we already believe, don’t we rebuke and reject the person and the idea? If we’re going to be honest we know that we do. Peter was no different, when Jesus told his disciples that he was going to be killed by the powers that be, Peter had to tell him that the Jewish leaders would never do such a thing because they wanted the Messiah to come just as badly as they did.
I’m not broaching anything political here, but spiritually speaking, we all need to be able to hear Jesus in spite of our Catechisms at times. Because if we won’t, we are proving that we, like Peter, don’t have the mind of God but rather the concerns of this world.
After Jesus called Peter out, he spoke to his disciples and said “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it”
When I was in college a student said that if preachers were actually preaching the gospel the way that it was supposed to be preached, that churches would be growing exponentially. Another student rebutted and said that he thought that if preachers were actually preaching the gospel in the American church that it would be shrinking. His point was that a popular Jesus is a happy-slappy Jesus that heals and financially blesses everyone, but the Jesus that most people reject is the Jesus that calls for believers to be disciples; disciples who deny themselves and give up their lives each and every single day. I had to agree with the second guy, because like Peter we all seem to have the mind of the world in most of our situations.
And so this is my prayer for us; that God will open our eyes to see and our ears to hear his rebuke of us so that we like Peter will come to know a risen savior that leads us to selflessly give up ourselves for Him and His Kingdom.
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”