In our scripture reading this morning we hear Jesus
- Interacting with Peter
- Teaching the Disciples what it means to truly be a follower of Jesus…someone who is growing as a disciple and offering themselves to help build the Kingdom of God.
Remember that this is the same Peter who just a few verses earlier, when Jesus asks, “who do you say that I am?” confesses with a boldness that comes from his Journey with Jesus…
“You are the Christ, the Anointed One, the Son of the Living God.”
Jesus has praised Peter for his discernment…he has talked about the building of the Kingdom of God and has shared how nothing, not even the gates of Hell will get in the way of the growth and advancement of God’s Kingdom.
It is this same Peter who is now listening and talking with Jesus…
Jesus begins to reveal the truth of how the Kingdom of God will be ushered into this world.
It is not what Peter or the other disciples had expected…not what they were looking forward to.
Jesus talked of suffering, struggle and even death. He spoke of sacrifice, offering Himself so that others may know “life to the full”.
This does not compute with Peter…it does not make sense…it was not what he was expecting…so he pulls Jesus aside, and quietly begins to rebuke Jesus…
“Never Lord, This Shall never happen to You!”
“You are the Christ, the anointed one, the Son of the Living God!”
Jesus turns to Peter…the person he has just praised for truly and honestly recognizing who he was…and says,
“Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
In short Jesus says to Peter…”My Father’s kingdom is not like the kingdoms of this world!”
I love Peter…he so desperately and passionately wants to follow and serve Jesus…
yet he is blinded by the ways of this world…
held hostage by the ideas of this world….
Does this sound like anyone you know?
This truth of the Kingdom of God is in conflict with our American way of doing things…this idea of sacrifice, willing giving of ourselves…to the point of death flies in the face of the grab and hoard all you can life philosophy that we have been taught and teach our children from the day they very young.
If Jesus was here today he would not change the message…in fact he would speak it even stronger and louder…
My sheep…the ones I came to seek and save…you put your hope in things that cannot save you…you spend a lifetime chasing…accumulating wealth in the hopes that it will provide you the life you so desperately want…and yet you find yourself slowly dying on the inside.
To find your life you must be willing to lose it…To be my disciple you must be willing to sacrifice yourself (your will, your dreams, your desires, your agenda) on behalf of the Kingdom of God.
For way too long we have tried to put Jesus into the box of 21St century American culture…it is time to let Jesus speak…hear what he has to say about the Kingdom of God and decide…are we willing to be the kind of disciples who will “pick up our cross and follow Him”