Reader: “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view,”
Response: “not from God’s.”
Scripture: Mark 8:31-38
Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead. As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things.
Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Visualize this text in your mind. Put yourself as one of the disciples walking along with Jesus. You are on the road to Caesarea Philippi, which is northeast about half way between the Sea of Galilee and the city of Damascus. As you and the other disciples move down the road in conversation, Jesus asks all of you, “Who do you say I am?” Keep in mind you were there when Jesus had fed the 4,000 and walked on water. You had seen him do miracles first hand. Now in kind of an embarrassingly blunt conversation he tells you that the Son of Man (how he always referred to himself) is going to suffer great physical harm, the Jewish leadership is going to reject him, they are going to kill him, and three days later he will rise from the dead. Try processing that. It is quite a conversation!
Peter, who had moments before declared Jesus to be the Messiah, stepped off the road, taking Jesus with him and reprimanded him for saying such things. Afterall, Jesus was in the process of bringing in the kingdom of God! Jesus getting killed was not part of Peter’s idea of how things should go. From the side of the road, Jesus turned and looked at all the disciples and gained their attention. Then he turned directly to Peter with very strong words. “Get behind me, Satan!” The devil was seeking once more to destroy Jesus’ mission as he had via King Herod’s decree in Bethlehem and at his temptation.
Remember, the story of Jesus’ temptation ended with the devil departing “for a more opportune time.” This moment was one of those times. Be clear, Peter was not possessed by the devil as was Judas. However, Jesus recognized the biggest picture of what was happening.
Once again, Jesus challenged his disciples (and us) to view things from God’s perspective, (which is why we spend time in his word daily so we would increasingly grow in grasping the mind and heart of our God.) Jesus’ conversation with his disciples expanded to include the gathering crowd as he returned to the implications of his earlier words with his disciples concerning what lay ahead for him, namely suffering, death, and resurrection. He made clear to all of his disciples that they were to lay aside self and selfish ambition, and like Simon of Cyrene, pick up the cross of the Savior and carry it to their personal Golgotha.
A soul, your soul is worth more than this world or anything in it. Stand firm, friend, as his disciple, for he’s coming back and establishing his kingdom of God here on earth. In the words of the martyr Jim Elliot, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Music: “I’d Rather Have Jesus” Alison Krauss
Lord, bless to me this season of Lent. Let me fast most truly and profitably, by feeding in prayer on thy Spirit: reveal me to myself in light of thy holiness. Suffer me never to think that I have knowledge enough to need no teaching, wisdom enough to need no correction, talents enough to need no grace, goodness enough to need no progress, humility enough to need no repentance, devotion enough to need no quickening, strength sufficient without thy Spirit; lest, standing still, I fall back for evermore. Show me the desires that should be disciplined, and sloths to be slain. Show me the omissions to be made up and the habits to be mended. And behind these, weaken, humble and annihilate in me self-will, self-righteousness, self-satisfaction, self-sufficiency, self-assertion, vainglory. May my whole effort be to return to thee; O make it serious and sincere persevering and fruitful in result, by the help of thy Holy Spirit and to thy glory, my Lord and my God. Amen. ―from Prayers for the Christian Year, p.80