At one point, not too long before the crucifixion, Jesus started explaining to his disciples that things weren’t going to go the way they expected. Peter had already identified Jesus as the Messiah—someone who would bring triumph. But Jesus then told the disciples that triumph would come only after he was rejected by organized religion and executed by the government (Mark 8:31).
When Jesus explained his impending rejection and death, “Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him” (Mark 8:32).
The Apostle Peter sharply criticized Jesus.
Peter stood face to face, shoulder to shoulder, toe to toe, with The One he knew was The Messiah, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:13-17), and sharply criticized what he said.
It sounds a little silly, maybe. The foolishness of any human to think they can boss God around. And yet, maybe I’m just as guilty as Peter?
It can be hard to let God be God. I am ready for some triumph! I want to see God’s love and goodness triumph over systemic racism, mass murder, and COVID-19. I’d like to tell God to go ahead and wrap all that up with a bow … today … please?
Peter had an idea of how Jesus should handle things as The Messiah and when Jesus revealed a plan that didn’t match with Peter’s, Peter rebuked Jesus.
Jesus let Peter know that he was off in how he was thinking.
“Jesus rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things… If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me'” (Mark 8:33-34).
In trying to direct how the Messiah would be the Messiah, Peter was acting as if he were opposed to God; Peter was acting like Satan.
Jesus tells Peter and us to be focused on God’s purposes, not our own limited human purposes. Jesus also tells us to pick up our crosses and follow him.
Sometimes we get the wrong idea about what it means to have “a cross to bear.”
The cross is an important symbol of all that Jesus accomplished in his death, but the cross is not a symbol of death, it is a symbol of life. It is a symbol of resurrection! It is a symbol of redemption!
Taking up a cross means actively joining in the redemptive work of God in this world.
God’s love and goodness will triumph over systemic racism, mass murder, and COVID-19 when we take up our crosses and join in the redemptive work of God in this world.
If I am impatient with the seemingly slow pace of God’s redemption, perhaps that is because I have laid down my cross and failed to actively join in God’s redemptive work already in progress.
What about you? What do you think it means to have a cross to bear? How are you joining in the redemptive work God already has underway? Tell me about it in the comments, in an e-mail, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
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