One more reflection on yesterday’s text:
Being a disciple of Jesus is hard. It means taking on behaviors that go against our own natural proclivities and desires, so we have to work at it and fight against ourselves. Stressful. It also means taking on behaviors that go against society’s norms and expectations, so we find no support there. If this isn’t your situation and you’re finding your walk with God simple or at least not too difficult, God bless you. If you’re like me and find yourself struggling as you push against the hatred and mistrust, lies and defensiveness, and all the -isms our world offers in place of discipleship, then you understand that discipleship is hard.
Jesus knew this and knew this wasn’t going to change. And so He began warning His disciples about it. Now what happens when a loosely bound group of dissimilar individuals, some with polar opposite politics and even faith systems, find out that they might be killed if they don’t walk away? They walk away. Almost always. And Peter knew it.
I’ve always read Peter’s rebuke of Jesus as his own issue with Jesus’ death. Jesus shares the bad news that He’s going to be arrested and killed (and the good news of His resurrection, but apparently none of them could get past the bad news), and I’ve always assumed Peter didn’t want to hear it and so rebuked Jesus for not being the Messiah he expected. “You’re not going to die! You can’t! I put everything behind you!” But reading in Mark today, did you see what Peter was mad about? He was mad about the fact that Jesus shared it openly with the rest. “If you share that, there goes the party! They all leave and then you have no followers and sure enough, its a self-fulfilling prophecy!” And so Jesus rebukes him, not for his desire to ignore Jesus’ death, but for not trusting Jesus to know when to tell the truth out loud and when to keep a secret.
The rest that follows is a teaching about the fact we began with: Being a disciple of Jesus is hard. So once again today, you have to decide if you’re up for the challenge or if you’ll just walk away and back to the old life of acquiring wealth, living in comfort, gaining power, controlling the world around you as much as you can… in other words, a life without Jesus. Because none of these are discipleship.