Having God’s Things in Mind
Today is the second Sunday in the Lent season. As we contemplate Christ’s act of salvation on the cross of Calvary, we are called to do a reality check on our Christian lives. We are challenged to look at our lives through the lens of God’s values. We are invited to pause and reflect on God’s will for our lives.
Our scripture text from Mark 8:31-38 tells us that Jesus was teaching his disciples about a Messiah who had to suffer. Understandably, the disciples thought that Jesus had lost his mind. Peter’s protest expressed the sentiments and hopes not only of the disciples, but of the entire nation of Israel. “Come on, Jesus, You’ve got all the power in the world. What do you mean… suffer!? We won’t let that happen to you. We’ve got to fight those Romans.”
When Jesus spoke of the suffering and death of the Messiah his disciples could not believe what they were hearing. All their lives they had connected the Messiah with a power-figure who would save God’s people from their oppressors. Therefore the idea of a suffering Messiah just did not make any sense.
Did you notice how Jesus became rather abrupt when Peter tried to talk “some sense” into him? Jesus recognized the voice of the tempter, who had come to him in the dessert. Jesus did not want to suffer and die. He knew that he possessed the strength and power from God to bring down the angelic hosts and destroy Israel’s enemies once for all. In the concerned words of his friend Peter, Jesus recognized the temptation of the devil. The devil was tempting him again to fall down and worship him, to take the road of least resistance rather than God’s way.
Isn’t it interesting how the devil tries to persuade us through the words of a well-meaning friend to play it safe in our lives? Sometimes, an opportunity for Christian service, or an opportunity to stand up for justice and peace comes our way. In our hearts we are absolutely convinced that this is from God, and that he is calling us to obey His will. We know that it will cost us a lot in terms of “losing” some of the comforts that we have grown used to. However, we are at peace with our decision, knowing that it is God’s will. As we share our decision with family and friends, they raise one red flag after another… Has this ever happened to you?
You see, the Devil is very clever. Without our knowledge he uses the people who are closest to us to break our spirits and our obedience to God. Peter was that special friend, who just a little while earlier had received a revelation from God when he confessed, “You are Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter’s good intentions and his dedication to his Master kept him from seeing God’s divine plan of salvation for humankind.