Jesus was tough in this reading. He told Peter to basically, “Shut Up!” He talked about being rejected…suffering…a cross…and death. He will be ashamed of those ashamed of him and his teaching in what Jesus called this “adulterous and sinful generation.” Jesus warned of losing our life – our essence of who we are – in this generation. The warning about losing our life is that once it is lost, how will we get it back? Imagine the cost? Is it even possible? Jesus’ words were hard to hear.
The reading began with Jesus asking the disciples a very simple question about his identity. They gave the various answers that people were wondering about him. Then, Peter blurted out that Jesus was the Messiah. Peter was correct but Jesus wanted his identity to be kept secret – at least for now. When Jesus started to talk about suffering and death, Peter tried to shut him down. There was a strong belief in a coming Messiah. The Messiah would judge the world “adulterous and sinful.” Then, the Messiah would raise up Israel to a place of glory and power. Nobody imagined a Messiah suffering and dying a horrible death on a cross. This was the belief that Peter grew up learning and to which he gave over his life. So when Peter challenged Jesus’ teaching, Jesus shut him down and called Peter’s actions satanic.
A big challenge to being Christian is how the world tries to put us into a category. Are we liberal, conservative, Democrat or Republican Christians? Each category has its own set of priorities and demands placed upon us. Each category seeks to exert its power and reach over others. Each category calls us to hand over our life to further its goals. Peter held to the beliefs of his Jewish upbringing and when he tried to force them upon Jesus, the response was being called satanic. If we traded places with Peter and tried to exert our views upon Jesus, I think he’d respond the same to us. Why? Regardless of political opinions the goal is the same: power. Power as defined by this “adulterous and sinful generation.”
Jesus came with a different understanding. He gave his life over not to the vying powers of that day. He gave his life over for a dying world to live. He gave his life over not to prop up one of the world’s powers but to establish the reign of God.
Jesus words of taking up a cross and following him, call out to us today. The cross isn’t a piece of jewelry. The cross is a dramatic challenge placed upon where we are giving over our lives. The cross for us is telling the world to “Shut Up!” So that we may give our life over to the Lord who alone brings life even through a horrible cross.
Jesus warned about handing over our life to the power of the world. If we do, how will we get our life back? Imagine the cost. Jesus showed the cost by living it out for us.