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Friday, February 9, 2018

“Jesus’ Touch”

Matt. 16:21-28

Jesus in this passage is foretelling two critical events.  The first is his death on the cross followed by his resurrection.  Peter however misunderstands all this.  He only hears Jesus talking about death.  Of course he is opposed to the whole idea.  However, what is really remarkable is that Peter seeks to take an authoritative position over against Jesus.  We read that Peter takes him aside and begins to rebuke him.  Peter is acting like a parent disciplining a wayward child.  The fact that Peter does this takes us aback.  Why would Peter presume to lecture Jesus?  Yet we can do the same thing in effect when we are not prepared to follow Jesus and obey him.  Jesus calls each of us to take up our cross and follow him.  Jesus calls us out of our comfort zone.  Many times we, like Peter, can think we know better than Jesus.  We want to direct our own lives.  Jesus rebukes Peter in very strong terms and he will rebuke us when we want an alternative to following him.

The second critical event that Jesus refers to is his second coming.  This of course hasn’t happened yet.  However, we can be certain it will happen (even if we don’t know when, Matt. 24:36)  Jesus discusses his second coming in the same context of talking about his crucifixion and resurrection, both of which we know have taken place.  Jesus challenges the values of this world.  Those who want to save their lives will lose them.  We can gain the whole world and end up forfeiting our life. Jesus has a different standard, a standard of justice and mercy that confronts and indeed convicts the world.

Jesus actually addresses Peter as Satan.  That is how far Peter has gotten off the track.  The same thing can happen to us as well.  Peter however is not really being diabolical.  He has however set his mind on human things rather than divine things, the things that Jesus reveals in his teaching. The same warning applies to us as well.

Loving and merciful God and Father, keep me focused on the example of Jesus.  May I be prepared to take up my cross and follow him.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.