The Fifth Sunday in Lent, March 17, 2013
Morning Psalm: 118 | Evening Psalm: 145
Jeremiah 23:16-32 | 1 Corinthians 9:19-27 | Mark 8:31-9:1
Why does Peter rebuke Jesus for predicting His suffering (Mark 8:31)? For many years I read this as Peter expressing great love for Jesus (cf. John 13:37). Yet, now it seems to me, along with many commentators, that Peter rebukes Jesus (literally, “tells him off”) because he doesn’t want to follow a suffering Messiah. Two verses earlier Peter has rightly identified Jesus as the Messiah (8:29), but the glory departs quickly for Peter at these words about suffering.
Am I so different from Peter? If I accept the reality that my Lord is one who suffers, what does that mean for me, as His follower (cf. Matthew 10:24-25)? If I am honest, far too often I want my Lord to be one who will readily call down fire from heaven (Luke 9:54) on those who trouble me. I resist following a Messiah on a cross because I don’t want to take up my own cross. Where He goes, I don’t want to follow.
Thanks be to God for Jesus’ stinging counter-rebuke to Peter (and to me). “Get behind me, Satan!” (8:33). Incredibly, these seemingly harsh words are, in fact, a gracious invitation. For these words are very similar to the very first words Jesus ever spoke to Peter, “Come follow me” (1:17). The phrases in Greek read so similarly: Deute opiso mou (literally, “Come after me”), and Hypage opiso mou (literally, “Get back after me”). In his fear, Peter has stopped following and has become an adversary (thus, “Satan”), and so Jesus, the Master Rabbi, firmly invites this wayward disciple to return to his proper position: following.
In three days from now (March 20), it will be exactly 19 years since I first accepted Jesus’ invitation, “Come follow me.” Oh, I have wandered at times during those years, but Jesus shows his grace again and again as He says, “Get back behind me.”
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
The Rev. Paul Donison (DMin Student)
Rector, St. Peter & St. Paul’s
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