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. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 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.” Mark 8:31-33
Dear Jesus, one of the many things I cherish about the Bible is the way it robs me of my penchant for hero worship. 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 mercy and grace?
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 true tomorrow, and next month and next year. I know this to be true, because I am so much like the Apostle Peter.
Jesus, it’s one thing for me to stress and stew about the ways this generation is distancing itself from the theology of the cross. But it’s quite another to see the subtle ways, like Peter, I try to keep you from the cross. I’m so thankful you confront me in the gospel just as firmly as you did your beloved disciple. There’s no hope for any of us when we deny the cross.
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 repentant faith, I deny your cross. When I believe the condemning lies of Satan, I deny your cross. When I think of me more highly than others, I deny your cross.
Jesus, by the gospel, help me to mind the things of God more than the things of men. May your cross get bigger and may my boast in it grow louder and louder. Jesus, you’re the only hero in the Bible, and I’m fine with that. So very Amen, I pray, in your patient and persistent name.