8

Jesus began to show his disciples
that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly
from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.
Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him,
“God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”
He turned and said to Peter,
“Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”

Peter again!  Rebuking Jesus with Jesus turning it around and rebuking Peter, “Get lost you devil, have you learned nothing!”.

But in all fairness, Peter’s response is a normal one of shock and perhaps, the beginning of a gnawing disappointment with being one of Jesus’ disciples.   After all, Peter gave up everything to follow him.  Peter is  ready for him to manifest as the conquering Messiah.   He wants to snuff out the Romans and teach the elders and chief priests and the scribes a lesson they’ll never forget.  He’s hoping to prove to his wife that he really does have something better and more meaningful to do than to fish and earn a living.  Suffer and die?  Doesn’t sound like victory, doesn’t sound like Peter backed a winner.

But again, in all fairness, we make the same mistake.  Two thousand years later and we still think of Jesus as the all powerful savior.  Walk through the doors of our national basilica in Washington and you are accosted by the image of Christ painted in the apse of the church.  Bigger than life, an angry Jesus glares at us as we enter.  Looking more like a Greek God, he seems ready to hurl down and strike the viewer with lightning bolts.  Where is the gentle and meek Lamb of God willing to give his life for his sheep?

But consider that to people of other faiths, putting a crucifix behind the alter is an equally disturbing image of Jesus.  Both morbid and grotesque, it causes more feelings of unease than any scary glaring image of Jesus could ever invoke.  But, the crucifix, not the all powerful images should take center stage in our lives.  We may be a resurrection people and Christ may be victorious, but, the cross is what gets us there.  The cross of Christ is our cross as well.  His way is one of sacrifice. (so is ours) His way asks us to accept pain and suffering if it helps the weak underdog. (so too it is our way)  His way asks us to love so much that we love our foes and give up our life for our friends. (we are also called to love above all else – EVEN OUR ENEMIES).   His way is never aggressive, is never self seeking, never boasts. (we too are called to be meek and humble servants for each other)

Today, Peter is faced with the stark reality of discipleship and it is clearly not what he expects.  Jesus says to him, “take up your cross and follow me.” Today, Jesus says to each one of us, “take up your cross and follow me.”