Theme of the Week: Peter’s Spiritual Growth… and Ours
Bible Verse: 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.” Mark 8:33
Scripture Reading: Mark 8:31-33
Of course, the problem with mountains is that they always have valleys. Yesterday we looked at the mountain of Peter’s declaration that Jesus was the Messiah. Peter stood tall, perhaps even alone, and declared that the rabbi he and the 11 others had left everything to follow was the one for whom all of Israel had waited for hundreds of years.
Jesus’s affirmation of Peter’s declaration must have swelled Peter’s chest and hope. Jesus was indeed the promised one. All the things they had all been waiting for, their ancestors had been waiting for, were about to come to pass.
While we don’t have time to get into the parts of the expectations that were right and those that were wrong, all they really needed to know was that Jesus was Messiah. It is important to understand that Jesus’s acceptance of the revelation given to Peter would have had breathtaking meaning for the disciples. All that they understood Messiah to be and do was about to come true. They wouldn’t just have front-row seats for the events to come, they were on the inside circle. The disciples would be key players in the glory to come (as far as they understood it).
So, when Jesus began to talk of dying, and not just dying, but of rejection, suffering, and dying, it did not align with what Messiah was supposed to do. Perhaps there was even some disbelief that his own people would reject the Messiah, perhaps it was just his own incredulousness, but it was more than Peter could handle. He took the man he had just proclaimed Messiah to task. Peter rebuked Jesus for saying such things.
In response, Jesus called out Peter’s motivations. The man who had received special revelation about the identity of Jesus was now thinking of his own selfish ends. Jesus’s words must have cut deeply. Peter, who had heard from God, and had the courage to declare what he had heard, now only had the things of man on his mind and in his mouth.
It’s easy to judge Peter but let’s hold the mirror up for just a moment. How quickly can we descend our mountains? How easy is it for us to praise God in one moment and curse men in the next? How often do we give in to our selfish desires and understandings?
Yet this is not the end of Peter’s story, and it is not the end of ours. Praise God that the mountain top is not restricted, that we can again ascend to the heights.
Prayer: God, I’m grateful that Peter was one of your followers. For both good and bad I can relate to him. Thank you that you called him to follow you and you call me to follow you. Forgive me for the times that I have misunderstood you and been selfish in my following of you. Help me to be open to where you are leading and how I can follow.
Reflection: What parts following Jesus are you tempted to make fit your desires rather than Jesus’s way?
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