A suffering Messiah!  What sense does that make?  But Peter learned
the hard way not to contradict what Jesus said.


Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer
many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and
scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke
this word openly.

Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him
[{Matthew 16:22} saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall
not happen to You!"] But when Jesus had turned around and
looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, "Get behind
Me, Satan? For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the
things of men."
                                              Mark 8:31-33 NKJV, condensed

                              Shooting From the Heart

Those who go first and speak up, can get caught out on a limb all
alone. Like Peter, in this instance. Peter had a knack for being a step
ahead of the others and busting off at the mouth. So without too much
hesitation, he told Jesus exactly what was on his mind. No, Lord! God
forbid, this must not happen to you!

Jesus had told them that he would be rejected by his own people,
would suffer and die, and three days later rise again. If the minds of
the disciples worked like ours, they got stuck on the first part and
never heard the resurrection words.

Peter probably wasn't the only one of the Twelve who wanted Jesus
to stop talking about suffering and death. The others just weren't brave
enough to protest. Jesus turned around and looked at all his disciples
before rebuking Peter. As though informing them--This is for every
one of you who thinks I am misguided.

The faithful who were waiting for the Lord's Messiah thought that when
God's Anointed One comes, all suffering would be over; tears and
sorrow washed away. They believed they would sing and dance their
way along the heavenly road to Zion, following the glorious train of their
Savior. Jesus' words had come as a shock. A Messiah that would
suffer and die was inconceivable to them. Their minds could not
fathom it, were closed to the thought.

I wish we had a better understanding of why these twelve men were
following Jesus and how they perceived their future. It's surprising
really that they held together for three years before one of them, Judas,
broke the bond and turned against them. But that's a future story. For
now, Peter is out on a limb about to be cut down.

Peter's life as a disciple was a roller coaster ride. Jesus had just
promised him the keys to his kingdom, and now Peter is heading for
a crash landing. Peter's intentions were good, yet he erred. Without
knowing it or intending to, he had switched from Jesus' side to Satan's
side. Reminiscent of Jesus' wilderness experience at the beginning
of his ministry, the words of Peter were the Devil himself tempting
Jesus to lay aside the purposes of God and become the popular
Messiah people wanted him to be.

Once more Jesus faced that old, recurring temptation of wanting
the end without enduring the means. Would he faithfully do the works
of God, or misuse his miraculous powers? Take the treacherous path
of the suffering Servant or travel the crowd-pleasing boulevard where
the masses wanted King Jesus to free them from all their troubles.
Man's point of view and God's perspective were at odds.

Jesus' response to Peter was swift and unexpectedly fierce. Get
behind me, Satan.
Peter was at this moment an obstacle to Jesus.
Sin and oppression would not be dealt with through a show of force,
but by a forceful showing of God's passion for all mankind.

The mighty power of God's Anointed would manifest itself, not in
dominating others, but in his willingness to become the servant of all.
His sacrificial love was a two-sided coin. On one side is death, on the
other resurrection. One side is suffering, on the other side triumph.
Rejection stares you in the face on this side; God's welcoming smile
greets you on the other. Jesus never spoke of death without a
resurrection. Without his resurrection there would be no final victory.

How did Peter feel about Jesus' rebuke? Surely it hurt and caused
humiliation. But Peter would learn from Jesus how to bounce back
after a confrontation. Seven verses later, Jesus took Peter to witness
the glories of heaven on the Mount of Transfiguration. The rebuke was
over and done. A future of terrible depths and breath-taking heights
lay ahead. Simon Peter, the rock, would learn to ride them all. Not
because of who he was, but because he was fastened to the Rock.

Jesus is always ready to leave the past behind and move forward
with us. If anyone would follow me, come . . . .


Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further
study or reflection.


Icebreaker: Who are the people with whom you disagree most vehemently?
                   Are they strangers or loved ones?   Political or personal?


The Christian concept of the cross is old and familiar to us, but try to
imagine what it was like for the disciples to hear about it for the first time.
            Think of something that came to you as bad news (such as an
            illness, death or the national tragedy of 9/11).
                        How did you go about processing that information?
                        How long did it take? What dominated your thinking?
            How might the reaction of the disciples to the cross been similar?


Neither Peter nor Jesus minced their words. They meant what they said
and disagreed very honestly.
            But would you say they understood each other?
Peter rebuked Jesus; then Jesus rebuked Peter.
            Why were their words so impassioned?
            What was the issue for Peter?
            What was the issue for Jesus?


Has Jesus ever said words you felt like rebuking him for?
            Anything you thought you had to change, revise, and improve upon?
What did Peter learn from his attempt to correct Jesus?


Discuss the dilemma of trying to please God while at the same time trying
to please your peers or the people who are important to you.
            Who wins and who loses in those conflicts?
            What gives you peace and what leaves you fragmented?


Many people believe that at some future date God will intervene in human
affairs, put an end to the powers of Satan, and gather in the righteous
while separating out the unjust.
            How do your ideas about this kind of future event parallel the
                        Jewish concept of their promised Messiah?


Some things cannot be explained. They can only be demonstrated.
            How does Jesus' sorrow, death and resurrection show the love of God?
            Does love have to make sense?


What do you think was the greatest temptation in Jesus' life?
            Name a recurring temptation which nags at you?
            Who are the people through whom these temptations come?

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