You know that feeling, when you are watching a situation from a certain distance. You can see events unfolding – and you just know there is going to be trouble. You can see personalities beginning to clash, that one is asking more of the other than they are willing to give, that aspirations are not the same. When reality kicks in, there may indeed be trouble ahead.
Jesus warns his disciples
There’s big trouble in store for the son of man (Mark 8:31 – Tom Wright)
Jesus Speaks about His Suffering and Death
31Jesus began telling his disciples what would happen to him. He said, “The nation’s leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses will make the Son of Man suffer terribly. He will be rejected and killed, but three days later he will rise to life.” 32Then Jesus explained clearly what he meant.
Peter took Jesus aside and told him to stop talking like that. 33But when Jesus turned and saw the disciples, he corrected Peter. He said to him, “Satan, get away from me! You are thinking like everyone else and not like God.”
34Jesus then told the crowd and the disciples to come closer, and he said:
If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. 35If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me and for the good news, you will save it. 36What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? 37What could you give to get back your soul?
38Don’t be ashamed of me and my message among these unfaithful and sinful people! If you are, the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
The reality of the situation, of the new way that Jesus is bringing to the world, is that there will be those who won’t like it. And when people don’t like something they try to ruin it. When people see that things will change for them, and they don’t want it to; when they can see that they will be losing something by it; when they see it is going to cost them…
So when the reality of what Jesus is bringing kicks in, it will attract animosity, fear and rejection. Jesus wants the disciples to be clear about what they are getting in to. Peter doesn’t like the sound of this, he doesn’t want to hear it. He tries to stop Jesus talking that way.
How are we when we hear the truths of what Jesus has to say? When he tells us of the costs involved? When we realise it is not all just plain sailing? Do we want to stop him saying these things? To out our fingers in our ears and la, la, la to ourselves? Do we want Jesus’ ways to be our ways, rather than our ways his?
Jesus offers the best way to live. But that does involve sacrifice. Jesus has to die to rescue a world gone wrong. There is a cross to carry (Tom Wright p 35). Are we willing to believe him and go with him? Are we willing to relinquish things that we think are good, for his ways that are better? Are we ashamed of him and want to stop his words, or willing to give up what we have and take on board the new way?
There may be struggles ahead, we may not be popular – but whoever said life was going to be easy? What Jesus does promise is that he has been there before, and he is with us where we go – for the journey we follow is his.
This is Tom Wright’s prayer for today (p 36);
Forgive us, gracious Lord,
where we have preferred human common sense
to the strange wisdom and power of your cross.
Give us strength
and clarity of understanding
to hear your call afresh
and to follow wherever you lead