Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!
Readings for Aug 30, 2020; Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Jeremiah 15:15-21; Psalm 26; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 16: 21-28
Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “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.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Matthew 16:21-26a
Could you imagine being Peter? After your plea to protect and keep safe your mentor and Saviour, you are called Satan; that your desire for his wellbeing is considered ungodly? How sad. How dare Jesus reprimand Peter for wanting good for his dearest friend? How dare Jesus acknowledge his earthly path towards death be full of pain and rejection? How dare he not put his earthly wellbeing and the pleasure he gives to his fellowman above the Father’s own purpose and calling of Jesus, the God man. How dare he!
I hope you are scathing at the above passage and considering me a heretic. I hope you are saying, “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about! Jesus had to walk that path of pain and rejection. He had to get to the cross and be forsaken by the Father. He had to go there… for me!” Well, you are correct! Yes, Jesus had to fulfill his earthly plan of redeeming humankind. It was for his love for Peter and his disciples, for you, and for me that Jesus had to walk that path that seemed so unjust to Peter. Even if Peter prayed to God the Father for Jesus’ care and safekeeping, no matter how well intended, Jesus was going to walk that path. It had nothing to do with God turning his back on Peter, or even Peter’s faith or lack of, that kept Jesus from being saved, although isn’t that how we conclude such circumstances in our own lives- my faith wasn’t strong enough, or “How can God be loving if he lets such things happen?”, as if this world is the ultimate goal of humankind. No, Jesus’ path of pain had nothing to do with either of those human reasonings.
However, it had everything to do with God’s purpose for Jesus’ life, no matter how young or old Jesus was. In fact, any attempt to alter God’s plan is an attack from Satan to avoid keeping our eyes on our God and trust in his purpose for each of our lives and the lives of our loved ones. Jesus cursed Satan as Satan whispered in Peter’s ears to try to protect Jesus from such peril; the peril that would destroy the power of Satan over humankind. What a brilliant plan on Satan’s part! But Jesus saw through it. May we see through it as well, as we live out our days. Don’t let Satan allow you to turn your eyes from Jesus and trusting in God’s plan for your life.
Therefore, as we come together as brothers and sisters in Christ, and share Christ’s love, sacrifice, and salvation with our loved ones and those around us, may we pray that God’s will be done – whether that be a path of health and healing, or of pain, suffering and earthly loss- and life eternal. May we trust that God’s will is done and his ultimate desire to call each of us home to be in his presence for eternity be fulfilled; that Christ’s sacrifice and journey to the cross was not made in vain. May we find peace in knowing that despite our limited understanding and our grief of the death of loved ones, that they are as much a part of God’s plan as Jesus’. May we not say, “How dare He?! How dare God take this loved one from me?! How dare He allow such pain and sorrow to overcome my dear one; overcome me?!” But may we hold fast knowing that He has a plan, and even in the midst of turmoil, may he be proclaimed.
For no one would say, “How dare you, Jesus, die for me? How dare you take upon yourself my sins and pay the penalty my sins deserve?! How dare you redeem me and reunite me with my Creator, and lover of my soul?! How dare you!” But, thanks be to God that Jesus did not listen to Peter’s plea but held fast to the course that was planned in advance. In the same way, when faced with a future unknown or discomfort and grief, may we shine your light and hold fast to you and your love for us, being confident in the salvation that is awaiting us. Let our faith be unshaken, and may we each proclaim as Jesus did, “Get behind me Satan!” with our eyes be fix on him – our Saviour!
Prayer: Dear Lord, There is so much pain and destruction in people’s lives this side of heaven. Dear Lord, walk with your children, according to your will. Let your light shine in our hearts no matter what we are going through. Let us know your peace and comfort even in the midst of grief and pain. Let your healing had be upon us whether it be temporal healing now or eternal healing in your presence. In all cases let thy will be done. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen!