By guest writer, Julia Phillips
“And he asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Christ.’... 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 said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’” - Mark 8:29, 31-33
Does your understanding of discipleship align with what Jesus says, or is it more of a reflection of your culture? Peter was part of a Hebrew culture that was looking for a Messiah, “the Anointed One.” They expected him to be a king, descended from David, who would establish an earthly kingdom and deliver them from their oppressors, the Roman government.
Peter understands that Jesus is the one they’ve been waiting for. But he is still trying to fit Jesus into his own expectations of who the Messiah should be. That’s why Peter rebuked Jesus and could not accept Jesus’ new teaching. If Jesus was going to suffer and be rejected by the religious establishment and be killed, then Peter’s plan for an earthly kingdom could not be accomplished. Jesus has revealed himself to his disciples, and Peter doesn’t like it.
In America, our culture impresses upon us that we can follow our dreams and be whatever we want to be. We often take that paradigm and blend it into our own version of Christianity. Yet Jesus says very clearly to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). Jesus suffered, and if we are following him, suffering will also be a part of our Christian experience. We can’t count on him to simply bless plans we create without him. That version of discipleship is much like Peter’s expectations for Jesus that revolved around human things, not heavenly things.
Peter didn’t know the end of the story when he had this difficult conversation with Jesus, but we do. Through his suffering, Jesus gave life and brought his kingdom to earth. Let us live with minds focused on the things of God, believing that whatever we suffer as we deny ourselves and follow him is worth it.
Is Jesus calling you to step out and follow him in a specific way that may be uncomfortable or counter cultural? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Could you use some hope right now? Join Peter’s first audience—“elect exiles” undergoing persecution—and experience the apostle’s powerful call to follow Jesus in the midst of life’s challenges, knowing your Living Hope is not a distant one, but a daily, glorious, life-giving reality! This unique six-week small group Bible study, A Living Hope: A Study of 1 Peter, helps you uncover the priceless promises written specifically to the struggling and the hurting, with pastoral gentleness and bold confidence for the future. This study of 1 Peter will help you become utterly convinced that Jesus is the only sure, true, incorruptible, and permanent hope for you.
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