Our gospel lesson is Mark 8:31-38, taken today from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).
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 was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
Jesus didn’t mince words when it came to what we want over what God wants for us. He tells Peter that he is acting as Satan’s agent when he opposes God’s plan for the Messiah. He has a hard lesson for us that teaches God’s way won’t always be easy, but it will always be right.
He tells us that our vision and understanding are limited, that if we see only earthly things we can never accept the call God places on our lives. He asks us to consider “what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (v. 37). Jesus says we must choose between temporary material things and the eternal gift of salvation God offers.
We sometimes lose our focus as Peter did. It is a sad part of our human condition, but while Jesus rebukes Peter, He doesn’t reject him. We are all subject to selfish wants. Jesus understands and comforts us with the truth that these desires don’t have to define us, that God is waiting to welcome us when we choose Him.
Loving Lord, we are often weak to the ways of the world and taken in by its false promises. Make us strong in Your word and Your love that we may share the Good News everywhere. Amen.