Jesus and the Cross
After dialoguing with His disciples about who people were saying He was, Jesus warned them to keep that information to themselves.
Verse 21 tells us from that time forward Jesus continued to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law. He even shared with them that He must be put to death, but on the third day He would be raised back to life.
And it was Peter again who took Jesus aside and protested. In fact, the scripture says Peter began to rebuke Jesus saying NEVER, LORD! This shall never happen to you!
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
What happened? Where did Peter go wrong? How did he go from confessing Jesus as Messiah and Lord to becoming a stumbling block used by Satan to try and deter Jesus and His work?
Simply put, Peter had limited insight and thus limited wisdom. He had taken his eyes off Jesus because he didn’t like the blueprint that was laid out before him.
Peter didn’t want to think that Jesus was going to suffer, and surely Peter didn’t want Him to die. And because Peter thought he had a better plan, he went to Jesus and told Him so.
Ever do just that? Ever receive news that you didn’t want to hear? News about your health or the health of a loved one? News about your children, your job? And you go to God, grumbling and complaining. You basically shake your fist in His face, telling Him how this can either go away or work out from your vantage point.
It would do us all some good to remember it is God who sits on the throne and not us. From His viewpoint He sees it all and though we all want the fairy tale ending, that is not what this life is all about. This life is full of suffering because it is full of sin.
Just because we have been saved out of our sin, that does not eliminate suffering.
In fact, Jesus taught quite the opposite in verse 24. He said if anyone would come after Him, she must deny herself and take up her cross and follow Him.
Jesus didn’t promise us that life after salvation was going to be a bouquet of roses. Though, a life lived for Christ and Christ alone is beautiful. But like a rose, there are many thorns that prick us and hurt. Yet God promises that even in those times, even in those places, He is still in control. He still has a plan and He still loves us!
In fact, those are the very places and times that His life is able to shine so brightly through us if we will let Him. The more we learn to let go of this world and the more we learn to embrace what God has for us, the more we become like Him! And the more He is glorified!
For whoever wants to save her life will lose it; but whoever loses her life for Christ will find it!
What good is it if you gain the whole world and all that it has to offer but forfeit your soul? And what is it that you can give God in exchange for it?
Life in Christ is based on what we find in Ephesians 2:8:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.
And in finding Him, or really Him finding us, we give up our lives to Him. We trust Him to do as He pleases to work out His perfection in us. Even if that means suffering.
I must admit my greatest times of growth and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ have not always been in the times of abundance and joy. For the most part it has been through suffering, pain, and loss. Through the loss of friends, family dreams, and such, He has manifested Himself and caused me to lean in and learn to love Him more as I have watched and waited for Him to provide!
And though we don’t say, “Lord, bring on the suffering,” we must learn from it and from Him when He sees fit to allow it to enter our lives.
All believers will face suffering but we will not face it alone.
So what is it that you are willing to give up for the sake of Christ? What is it that He is asking you to let go of that He might enter in and take control?
Share your concerns, give Him your questions, but then trust Him and move forward! And then watch and see what He does in and through your life and the situation!
There comes a point in every person’s life when they must make a decision and ask themselves the question: Do I want to remain stuck in my religion, man’s way to God, or will I choose a personal relationship with Him, God’s way to man?