You won’t never think it, but in this week’s Gospel (Mark 8.31-38) Jesus told someone to “shut up”. Remember when we were kids? Remember the treat that our mothers would be told that if we spoke like that we would get into so much trouble and then our dads would find out!?! The remark is made during Jesus teaching the Twelve about where they were going and what was going to happen to him when they got to Jerusalem. Specifically, that there was going to be a confrontation and that he would lose that confrontation, be killed and three days after, rise from the dead. And what’s more he didn’t hide it, Jesus spoke plainly about it.
So, upon hearing this, Simon Peter takes Jesus aside and then takes him to task and says to him, “No! God take this away from you! This should never happen to you! No! You shut up!” This draws the reaction described above, “Shut up! Get behind me and get back in line! You are thinking about yourself and what you want for yourselves not about what God wants to accomplish.”
So this begs a question, “Will you suffer Christ and his will for your sake and that of others?”
There are so many people and organizations that want to have it their way, plan control and do things that make them look better but are never ready to honour God with who they are or what they want to do, including the Church. People have their agendas and they want their agendas honoured and if God is involved, that’s good too. The problem with that kind of thinking is that it is a trap. When we think and believe that we know it all, there is something that happens that proves that we do not.
In Peter we can see and hear what human belongs are like. One needs to keep in mind hat he took the risk and declared on behalf of the Twelve that Jesus is the Anointed One from God (Messiah). In acknowledging the insight, Jesus applauded the Twelve but then told them to ‘shut up’ about it. The reason for the imposition of silence? They had the right guy, but the wrong idea about the kingdom. Case and point, Peter did not want to hear anymore about this suffering and dying stuff – that’s not what God faith and religion are about – is it?
If you stop and consider what our culture says about heroes and saviours, they are a lot that can suffer so long as it has no effect in the lives of the people around them. This is not what Jesus calls the people together with his disciples to talk about. He calls on them do the most difficult thing a human can do: forfeit their lives in favour of the life of the kingdom. In the eyes of the world, heroes are the ones to undergo suffering, pain and death. The rest of the world is to be left intact, undisturbed. The hero bears the brunt of the evil while the rest of the world is left intact, free to continue its way without being changed or shaped by the sacrifice and life that was offered for them. Nothing in the world change - it just keeps going forward and stays the same.
Therefore, Jesus and his life and his death on the cross along with his resurrection make all the difference in this world. Through Christ, The Father is working to make the fallen rise and to make the old new. The Spirit is working to bring everything to its perfection in Christ.
And in the meantime, the discipline of the kingdom is that everyone follows. Everyone takes up their cross and leaves what has been, behind. It is more than a time of self denial. It is an act of total surrender. It is a relinquish all that we are and all that we have in favour of what is coming in the new kingdom. It is not our life anymore. As Saint Paul would have it, “It is not I who l lives, but Christ who lives in me.”
So the question comes to you and to me, “Will you suffer Christ, concede your agenda, plans and intentions, pick up and walk with your death and follow Christ?” Those who will come with us, will find life like they have never known it before.
Isn’t that worth a walk towards?