We were on a little trip with my brother and his family. My nephew was just about 2 and a half years old at the time. He was acting out and being defiant to his dad, so he warned him that if he continued, they were going in the other room for a spanking and a serious talk.
My Cookie (that’s what they call me) heart just couldn’t take the thought of my little baby being punished. I wanted to grab him up, wrap my arms around him, and protect him.
When you love them, it’s a natural reaction to want to shield them. But the truth of the matter was, the punishment that was coming, wasn’t to harm him, but to correct him. It was to teach him how to behave better. It was the right thing to do. But for this tender-hearted aunt, it was hard to take.
Peter and I share in this sentiment.
“And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.” (Mark 8:31-33)
Jesus was giving the disciples more details about what was to happen in the future and how it pointed even further to who He truly was. But as Peter heard the words, he reacted with his heart. He wanted to jump in and grab Jesus, wrap his arms around Him and protect Him. The rebuke wasn’t out of anger at Jesus, but out of a deep love for Him and a desire to see that nothing should happen to Him. Peter had been a protector of Jesus for a few years. He loved Jesus. He didn’t want anything to happen.
But Peter didn’t understand what he was saying or trying to prevent. The punishment that Jesus would receive was for the salvation of men. There was no other way. To try to stop what was about to happen would be a victory for Satan. And this is why Jesus rebuked Peter as He did.
Jesus had shown the disciples many miracles that proved He held the power of God. But this miracle, His death, burial and resurrection would be for all the world to know that He truly is the Messiah, the One who would take away our sins. His death would mean victory. But for Peter, it was hard to take.
As Jesus continues, He shares with His disciples and the other people around them, just what it means to truly follow Him. So far, they have experienced great miracles, but if He was hated and persecuted, how could His followers expect anything less?
“And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38)
Are we really ready to follow Jesus? Have we truly considered what that means and counted the costs? Are we willing to deny the things we want, the plans we have, the life we dreamed of, and go where God calls us? What if that means getting out of our comfort zone? What if that means I’ll be ridiculed or even hurt? What if that means death?
These are the costs of following Jesus. Are we willing?
“O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conqu’rors we are!”
Turn your eyes upon Jesus. You’ll find He is worthy of honor, praise, glory, suffering, and even death.
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