Mark 8:31-38 For the Sake of the Call

Take up your cross and follow me

Take up your cross and follow me

We join Jesus today as He tells His disciples what awaits Him in the future. This is the first time He will do so. We are not sure how much time has passed since Peter’s confession of Who Jesus is, but today he learns he is listing to another source.

Jesus has been teaching the crowds in parables all this time and privately interpreting for His disciples. He is now ready to teach His disciples something unique to them. He begins telling them how He is going to be treated, including how He is going to be killed. He is pulling no punches here. He plainly tells them that the chief priests and scribes are going to reject Him and kill Him. He doesn’t leave it at that though because He also tells them that he will rise again after three days.

I don’t know what the rest of His disciples thought about His announcement, but Peter was very disturbed by it. Peter was a good disciple, but he couldn’t stand by while Jesus made such a huge mistake. Not wanting to publicly embarrass Jesus over His mistake, Peter takes Jesus off to the side and speaks to Him privately.

I applaud Peter for his discretion and trying to help Jesus “save face”, but he was SO misguided. Peter also didn’t approach Jesus correctly. “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him” (verse 32). Things might have been smoother for Peter if he “questioned” Jesus instead of “rebuked” Him.

Peter might have said something like this: “Jesus You are wrong. You are worrying the troops for nothing. This is not the way to win more followers. You need to stop talking like this if You have any hope of mounting a successful campaign. We actually need the Pharisees on our side so You should stop accusing them of plotting against You and start making peace with them instead.”

Before Jesus responded to Peter’s behavior He looked over at His other disciples. Was He looking to see if they were paying attention to what was going on between him and Peter? Did He want the other disciples to be paying attention? Did He want them all to be listening so He would only have to go through this once, or was He wanting them otherwise engaged so as to save Peter from embarrassment when He rebuked him? What were the other disciples doing and thinking during Peter and Jesus’ sidebar conversation?

Jesus didn’t need Peter’s protection or correction. Jesus knew the truth and boldly spoke it. The very next truth He spoke to Peter shows us where Peter was getting his inspiration. “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (verse 33). Peter was receiving his motivation from the wrong source. Satan was planting these seeds in Peter’s mind and heart.

Did you notice that Jesus addresses the spirit behind Peter’s words first instead of Peter himself? After the spirit is quiet then Jesus can speak to Peter’s heart. “Peter, you are not listening to the plans of God but are thinking about what you want instead. God doesn’t always do things the way man thinks is best, but you can rest assured that He KNOWS what He is doing and His plans are ALWAYS best.”

I imagine this shut Peter up REAL fast. If any of the rest of His disciples were listening in I bet they were reluctant to broach this topic with Him themselves. “Peter is one of His favorites. If he got shot down you KNOW we would receive the same and maybe more.”

Now Jesus wants everyone to pay attention. I’m wondering where the crowd came from. Were they privy to His teachings about His death? Were they the 70 that Luke reports as having been sent out? Whoever they were, Jesus called them and His disciples over to talk to them. It was time to draw a line in the sand. It was time to disclose the cost of following Him.

So far, anyone who wanted could follow Jesus. They weren’t all welcomed into the inner circle, but they weren’t driven away. I’m assuming they all heard what Jesus said was awaiting Him and saw Peter take Him off to the side. After Jesus’ statement there would probably be fewer in this crowd than there was before.

Jesus started out simple by saying that those who would follow Him would have to “deny himself and take up his cross.” What did that mean? Deny what? Hunger? Less sleep? More time away from their family? What!?

Then Jesus hits harder. Whoever would save his own life, to protect and preserve it from those seeking to hurt Jesus, would lose it in the long run. The world had, and still has, nothing to offer that is worth denying Jesus. Peter would personally find that out later too. Fortunately for Peter, he recognized his sin and repented. We have that opportunity too.

Judas made that mistake too and didn’t repent of it. That decision had eternal consequences. Jesus will be denying knowledge of him as His friend in heaven.

Father God, thank You for Your forgiveness. Thank You Jesus that You set Peter straight without crushing him. You clearly identified who Peter was listening to. You shut Satan up before dealing with Peter’s sin. Then You gave everyone present the direction they needed in the face of the information You shared.

“Yes, the Pharisees are out to get Me. Yes, they are going to kill me. But I will rise again in three days. Yes, it is dangerous standing with me. But not standing with me will have LONG TERM consequences. If you deny knowing me to those around you, I will deny knowing you to My Father. That has ETERNAL consequences.”

Thank You that I do know You. Thank You for letting me share that here in this forum. Please forgive me for not standing up every time You gave me the opportunity. Help me set my mind on You and what You would have me do instead of thinking about my comfort. I want to be fully Yours.

I also acknowledge or deny You through my actions. Since I claim to be a Christian, I better live by what You called me to. Help me live a life that is pleasing to You so that You will be seen in a good and correct light at all times. Make me an instrument of Your peace. In my heart, in my home, in my family, and in my community.

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