A Cross-Free Way? Think Again!

Read: Mark 8

Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (Mark 8:33)

What a dramatic moment this must have been for the disciples—especially Peter. Jesus had just asked the disciples this question, “Who do people say that I am?” And Peter’s simple yet profound prophetic response was a declaration for the ages: “You are the Christ!” (Mark 8:27-30)

But when Jesus began to speak of his impending sacrificial death, Peter didn’t like it one bit, so he began to rebuke Jesus. How could one who was to be “Christ” suffer and die? This certainly wasn’t in line with God’s will, Peter thought. Peter had an entirely different definition for what it meant to be “Christ”, and a far better agenda than the one Jesus was suggesting.

That’s when Jesus turned on Peter and gave him the spiritual smack-down of all smack-downs. Anyone who reads these dramatic words — “Get away from me, Satan” — certainly must think, “Wow! Glad that wasn’t me!” It was then that Jesus went on to talk about the cost of discipleship. True discipleship requires one to jettison his own agenda — “let him deny himself”; commit to God’s agenda — “take up his cross”; and make daily, continual obedience his highest priority — “and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)

As dramatic as this rebuke seems in print, however, may I suggest that perhaps it wasn’t as focused on Peter as we might think. When you look at the context, what you see is that Jesus wasn’t so much upset with Peter, the person, as with Peter’s misguided agenda. You see, Peter’s plan would have taken Jesus off the Father’s mission. It was the easier, smarter, less painful path, but as Jesus said, it was “not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Mark 8:33).

In a sense, we really were there when Jesus uttered that rebuke. We were not only there — we were Peter! How so? Haven’t we, too, been the tool of Satan in desiring the things of men rather than the things of God. How often have we preferred our way — the easier, cheaper, quicker, pain-free way — to discipleship rather than the way of the cross? How often has the essence of our prayers, if not our desires, been, “not your will but mine be done”?

Peter took the brunt of Christ’s rebuke that day—but he did so as the representative head of a class of spiritual dunderheads of which you and I are members.  However, Peter ultimately got his spiritual act together, and so can we. What it requires, though, is that we get the things of God rather than the things of men in our view finder, and keep our sights there.

“No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.” ~William Penn

What If God Took Over?

If you are attracted to a cross-free path to discipleship, then you may want to pray this prayer every day this week:  “Lord, deliver me from the Evil One, who would lure me onto the easier, quicker, pain-free path of the things of men.  May your will be done—not mine.  May your kingdom come today in my life, just as it is done in heaven.”

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