21From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you." 23But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."
24Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
Today's reading from Matthewhas always been a tough one for me to swallow. Jesus tells his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, suffer many things, be put to death, and rise again. It seems a natural human reaction that Peter would exclaim, "No Lord, this can never happen to you!!" I know that would be my reaction if my beloved mentor and friend said something similar to me. I would immediately dispute this horrible idea without even thinking about it. But instead of feeling supported by his disciple's desire to see him avoid this horrible suffering, Jesus calls Peter "Satan" and a "stumbling block".
What I always have to understand when I read this passage is that Jesus sees the bigger picture. Jesus knows that Peter can only see things from his limited human perspective, whereas Jesus can see things from "God's" perspective. He knows what sacrifices are needed, and what needs to be done, even though it is difficult. Being a disciple of Jesus takes a lot of hard work. It may require sacrifice when we don't feel like sacrificing. The thought of "losing one's life to find it" is a hard concept. But if we give all of ourselves to God, and commit to following Him with our whole heart, we will actually find the true direction for our lives. We will be able to fulfill the true purpose that God intends for us, and be more in tune with the "God" perspective, rather than the human one.
Lord, tune my heart to your will and not my own, even when doing so requires sacrifice. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Contemporary Worship Director