Mark 8: 31 – 33 Jesus predicts his death
He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
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.’
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“He spoke plainly about this”
Jesus’ teaching up until this point had been in the form of parables. Now, with just his disciples present, he tells them exactly what is to happen to him.
They must have been shattered.
They had watched Jesus heal people. They had seen how crowds had flocked around him They had seen him calm a storm and feed a multitude. They’d heard him speak, over and over again, about the kingdom of heaven. Above all, they had lived with him day and night. They thought they knew him, and they had given him their allegiance.
And now this.
“He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.”
The Jewish leaders weren’t going to accept him as Messiah. Quite the reverse. They were going to reject him and kill him.
All the preconceived ideas of the disciples were challenged. They couldn’t believe that the authorities would kill Jesus; but if they did…what would they do to the disciples?
Peter acted on impulse. He couldn’t bear what Jesus was saying. From Jesus’ response, I imagine that Peter was telling Jesus that he mustn’t say things about dying, and being rejected. He would put people off. “How can you save the world if you’re dead?” he might have asked.
I wonder if Jesus felt sadness at Peter’s intervention? Peter had just had the insight to see that Jesus was the Messiah, and here he was, subverting Jesus’ mission. Jesus rebuked Peter sternly. “…he rebuked Peter. ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ he said. ‘You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’ ”
Peter and the other disciples weren’t used to listening to God, whereas for Jesus listening to God was second nature. He often withdrew to pray in solitude. Jesus knew that it was vital that he did exactly what the Father required of him. He wasn’t on earth to work out a clever plan to restore Israel. He wasn’t on earth to display God’s power in spectacular miracles. He was here to do the will of God.
That wasn’t the most important thing; it was the only important thing.
How does that apply to us? Should we be similarly focused on doing God’s will? How much do we listen to God? Have we practised listening to the way the Holy Spirit guides us?
I find this a deeply challenging passage. It calls for a level of commitment that creates real problems for my hypocrisy and selfishness. All I can do is trust in Jesus.
You are God, Creator and Sustainer. I confess that I am weak, selfish and a hypocrite. I’m sorry for failing to do your will. I put my trust in Jesus, to help me do better.
Thank you, Jesus, in your name I pray.