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 spoke 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 8:31-33

Dear Lord Jesus, one of the many things I cherish about the Bible is the way it robs me of my illusions and penchant for hero worship. My culture has wired me to look for efficient and successful people—individuals whose example I can follow to make my life easier and “better. I bring this bent with me into my spiritual life as well.

But when I read the Scriptures, I don’t find a ton text-book heroes. I find a bunch of needy, broken people, who like me, are in constant need of the mercy and grace of God. The Apostle Peter is a perfect example. After you spoke of your impending death and resurrection, he took you aside and rebuked you, really? He really did that? He tried to keep you from the cross?

This weak-disciple phenomenon makes the Bible all the more attractive and trustworthy to me. Who but God would write a book documenting the foibles and failures of so many of his sons and daughters? Who but God would chronicle the ways his chosen leaders limp along and prove themselves to be in constant need of his redemption?

Even as this gives me great encouragement and hope. It also gives me freedom to acknowledge that I need the gospel today just as much as the first day I believed it. This will be just as true tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. Keep me convinced, Jesus, because I’m much like Peter. It’s one thing for me to rant about the ways this generation is distancing itself from a theology of the cross. But it’s quite another to see the subtle ways I, myself, deny the cross. Deal with me as you dealt with Peter.

When I mute my heart to the insult of grace, I deny your cross. When I think, even for one moment, that my obedience merits anything, I deny your cross. When I put others under the microscope and measure of performance-based living, I deny your cross. When I wallow in self-contempt and shame, I deny your cross. When I’d rather do penance than repent, I deny your cross.

By the power of the gospel and the work of the Spirit, help me to “mind the things of God” much more than the things of men. May your cross get bigger and bigger in my gaze during Lent, and may my boast in it grow louder and louder in life. Jesus, you’re the only hero in the Bible. You’re my substitute to embrace before you’re my example to follow. I don’t need a second chance, I just need you, the second Adam. So very Amen I pray, in your patient and persistent name.


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Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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