From Here It Gets Rough
The text this week is Matthew 16: 21-28. This text sees Jesus explaining to the disciples what He must endure when they get to Jerusalem. Jesus makes it clear that the road ahead is a rough one. He will suffer and be killed, yet rise on the third day. That last part seems lost upon the disciples at this point. They are likely horrified that their teacher and beloved friend will suffer this way.
Peter is so distraught that he rebukes Jesus! I mean the nerve! He tells Jesus “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” (Verse 22). Peter’s reaction is all too human. No one wants to see a friend suffer and die, especially one they have come to see as Messiah.
Jesus of course, will have none of Peter’s protestations. He tells Peter that he is a stumbling block, and that he is setting his mind on human things not divine things. Peter simply does not understand. It is a simple, yet powerful point, that there is much about God’s plan that we do not understand. We are simply to trust our Lord. It is also a reminder that whatever awful things we may experience in life, it is all known and experienced by God through His Son Jesus.
What About Our Cross
Then Jesus drops the hammer. It seems that it is not just about Jesus’s suffering and the bearing of a cross. It is also about ours. Rut Ro! Jesus lays out what He is asking of His followers. If they are His followers then they will deny themselves, take up their own cross and follow Jesus. If they want to save their own lives, they will lose it for Jesus’s sake. He points out that you gain nothing if you have everything in this world but lose your eternal relationship with God.
Frightfully, I think we all know what it means to follow Jesus. This means walking the path of radical love, forgiveness and sacrificial service. That is indeed a cross to bear in this fallen world. It may cost us relationships, it may cost us money, power and fame-so be it. None of these matter compared to a relationship with God through His Son Jesus.
Jesus finishes this passage with the promise that the Son of Man will return and make the final judgment over the world and all in it. This should not be a fearful thing for the faithful, but rather a wonderful promise that we can trust.
Since we trust in the word of our Lord, we can be confident that when that day comes when we stand before Jesus, He will have forgiven us all our sins and know that we accepted the gift of faith that He gave us. He will know also that in response to that faith, we bore our cross as best we could and did the best for others that we were able. That is in the end Jesus will know that we believed, then we obeyed.
Praise Be to God