From Blessing to Rebuke
"And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, 'Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." Mark 8:31-33
Soon we will mark the anniversary of the events Jesus was revealing in this portion of scripture. The trial, torment, crucifixion, separation and Resurrection Victory of the work Jesus came to this earth to do. What we call "Holy Week," beginning with Palm Sunday, the day the lambs were brought into Jerusalem in preparation for the Passover Sacrifice later in the week.
Imagine yourself in Peter's sandals. You have been walking with perfect love for approximately three years. You've given up your livelihood to follow Jesus. In fact, you've staked all your hopes and dreams on Him because you believe He is the Son of God, the Messiah. Peter has just expressed that act of faith in the preceding verses.
"But who do you say that I am?' Peter answered and said to Him, 'You are the Christ.'
Historians and commentators alike, believe Mark's gospel is Peter's account of Jesus' life. So, we are reading scripture from Peter's point of view here. He leaves out the rest of Jesus' comments, as told by Matthew:
Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it." Matthew 16:17
Peter goes from blessed to rebuked in a couple of verses. In one verse he is blessed because he stated a 'Holy-Spirit-inspired, faith-proving fact.' But, when Jesus began to tell him and the disciples that the outcome of His presence with them was not what they were expecting, Peter had the audacity to rebuke Him. Just like that his spiritual vision transferred from the heavenly perspective to his own thoughts and dreams.
How many times do we do that? We are human. We have hopes for ourselves and for our families. We have an idea of what our lives should be like. We hope God concurs with our goals.
Then He shows us He has something else in store for us. A trial shows up. Where is our focus riveted? On His power? Peter had been witnessing the miraculous power of God almost daily. He'd even experienced it in His life.
God has a plan. When the mob, led by Judas Iscariot, confronted Jesus in Gethsemane they fell backward when he said the powerful name of God, "I AM." Matthew's gospel records Jesus' telling Peter He could "appeal to His Father who would at once put at His disposal more than twelve legions of angels."
Jesus suffered persecution from a place of power. He allowed Himself to endure the shame of the Cross because He is The Way. We can't come to the Father except through His perfect sacrifice. His love for us (the world) caused Him to give His life for us.
When we face trials, loss of our dreams, persecution - where is our focus? Is it on God's interests - what He plans to accomplish in us and through our testimony? Or is it on what is happening to us - our disappointment in our expectations of what God is doing?
Take heart, my Sister. At your weakest you have power. God did not leave Jesus' body to decay in the grave. He did not leave Peter to beat himself up over his denial of Christ to save his own skin. Jesus made special effort to restore him.
GOD IS FAITHFUL. His aim is to bring forth the pure nature of Jesus in us. Our trials are God-allowed or God-designed, meant for our flesh, our sin nature, to die...little by little. He won't give you or me more than we can bear so that we may come through victorious.
"No temptation (trial, testing) has overtaken you but such as is common to man' and GOD IS FAITHFUL, who will not allow you to be tempted (tested) beyond what you are able, but with the temptation (test) will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it."
1 Corinthians 10:13
There are so many reasons for us to be grateful and they are all summed up in one Name. Thank you for Jesus, through whom we have all blessing. Thank you that there is purpose in the testing of Your children, that You give us the power to endure the test and the power to come through in victory. You are our strength and confident hope that we will hear, in this life and in the life to come, Well done, My good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your LORD.
by Marilyn Allison