“Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” … the Son of Man must suffer … Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him … “Get behind me, Satan! … If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (Mark 8).
Peter is the first disciple to confess Jesus as the Christ. Jesus affirms His confession, even says Peter didn’t come up with it on his own, but it was revealed to him by the Father in heaven.
As true as Peter’s confession was, it was incomplete. Peter’s Christ was a warrior king like David who would conquer Israel’s enemies and return the nation to glory. Perhaps Peter would be vice-president in the new kingdom.
When Jesus explains that the Christ will be rejected, will suffer, and be killed, Peter’s head explodes. This is not the Christ according to Peter. So Peter pulls Jesus aside to correct his foolishness. In return Peter gets the rebuke of the Bible: “Get behind me Satan!”
Just as Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness to grab the glory now and skip the cross, so Peter calls on Jesus to man up, be the warrior king, and conquer our enemies apart from the cross.
We know better. We know the cross must come before the crown. The Christ must suffer before the Christ will rise victorious.
But we don’t know better. We live as if the cross were an event in history a long time ago. We’re resurrection people now. We live the victorious Christian life. Those times we stumble and fail only serve to remind us of the need to train harder, have more faith, and claim the victory that Christ has won for us.
We have no patience with suffering. Suffering is merely a test of faith. Or God’s discipline for some sin. It’s surely not a part of the normal Christian life.
We know better. We would never rebuke Jesus. We know He is God and He has a wonderful plan for our life.
But we don’t know better. We’re not as direct as Peter. We deliver our rebukes with a little more sophistication. Our pouting when life punches us in the nose reveals a not so subtle demand for heaven now. Our impatience over the sin that we can’t shake leaves us wondering why God doesn’t come through. The difficult person that God seems uninterested in fixing … where is God we quietly ask?
We want to be beyond the cross. Jesus invites us to take up the cross, to die to the demand for heaven now, and to follow Him. We won’t find freedom from suffering, but we will find a Savior who suffers for us. We won’t obtain a complete understanding of the Christ, but we will find rest in the Christ who completed His work for us.