Jesus Predicts His Death
31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Ah, these disciples. When we read these gospel accounts, the disciples don’t come off very well, do they? Here, we find the hothead Peter rebuking God, the one who rebuked the very waves! Our immediate response is one of disgust, thinking to ourselves, “What is Peter thinking? He can’t rebuke Jesus for saying this – Jesus’ death was God’s plan for salvation! I would NEVER do that!” It seems so crystal clear to us…
But we have to understand the motivations behind Peter’s rebuke. Peter was so upset by this because Jesus wasn’t fulfiling his expectations. You see, Peter believed that Jesus was the Messiah who would spiritually and politically lead the Jews to freedom from the Romans, the one would re-establish the earthly kingdom. So if Jesus dies, then Peter’s hopes and expectations would be dashed. In essence, he is saying, “No, you can’t do that! You can’t die, because you have to do all the things I hoped you would do!” But Jesus rebukes him right back, sharply reminding Peter that he has come to do the Father’s will, which is not just the political restoration of one nation, but the restoration of all creation!
When we look at the passage in this light, we are not very different, are we? We get frustrated and upset with God when he doesn’t fulfill our expectations. We question God when we don’t get what we want. We even get angry when his plan for our lives is so different from the plan that we had for ourselves. And we think exactly as Peter thought: “No, you can’t do that! I have to go to this internship this summer! I have to get married! I have so many plans, and your plans don’t fit with mine!” If Jesus were in our midst, there is a good chance that we would be rebuking him, just as Peter did.
And there is a good chance that Jesus would be rebuking us right back: “Whose plans are more important, mine, or yours?”
But there is an important final note to this passage, and that is the realization that we don’t submit plans under God’s out of simple obedience, but because his plans are so much better and bigger than our own! Peter’s plan was for political freedom – God’s plan was for universal redemption! Our plan is for a stable job – God’s plan is for you to live with purpose and passion! When we take this into account, we realize that submission is actually the more logical and blessed path.
1. Have you ever had God frustrate a plan of yours, only to realize that he had something better in mind?
2. Do you feel like God is currently frustrating a plan or hope of yours – what might be the larger goal that God wants to achieve through this?
3. What is one area of your life that, if God’s plan conflicted with your own, you know you would be very upset and disappointed? Why do you think it is so difficult to trust God in that one area?