From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.
Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.”
But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “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 will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” ~Matthew 16:22-26, NASB
Get behind me, Satan? Wow. That’s a rough rebuke. Why was Jesus so passionately firm against Peter’s censure?
Because He knew His Father’s will, and was surrendered to it. Nothing, not even one of his closest friends, was going to distract him from obedience. The line was drawn, and it was clear to Jesus.
Not so much to Peter. ‘Lord, certainly you’re mistaken. Don’t scare us by saying these things. What’s this business about suffering, dying? You’re the Christ, man! You’re here to establish your kingdom! Don’t be such a doomsayer.”
How crazy is it to say “Lord,” and then proceed with a plan of your own devising?
Yet, I do it all the time.
“Lord, I don’t want to love that person. They make me crazy.”
“Lord, I don’t want to go there, it’s out of my comfort zone.”
“Lord, I don’t want to let you take my kid to that place. It will break my heart.”
Here’s the thing of it: “Lord” is a term of surrender. I could easily say “Master” and have it mean the same thing. But verbiage is impotent without a heart that is prostrate before Him.
Jesus called us to deny ourselves. What exactly does that mean? In the Greek, it meant to ‘forget one’s self, to lose sight of one’s own interests.’
Why would Jesus say that? Doesn’t He care about me, about my life?
He said it because he has a greater purpose for my life than my comfort.
Those are hard words to write, because personally, I’d like quite a bit of comfort. I’d like to live where I want to live and socialize with whom I’d like to relate. I’d like to spend what I want to buy what I want. I’d like my kids to have every educational advantage and social opportunity. I’d like God to give me all these things, because I think they’d make me happy.
But it’s not all about me. It’s all about God, and it always has been. He gave me my life not to spend on my pleasure but to invest for His glory. Jesus rebuked Peter because Peter was suggesting Jesus do what was best for Jesus, what was best in the 70-something-year, natural lifetime that Jesus might have spent on earth. But Jesus had a far, far greater purpose for his life: to die quite young, bringing salvation to generations upon generations of humans, including myself.
He calls me, too, to sacrifice for a greater purpose
I was 22 years old, sitting in the Baptist Student Union at University of Florida. A speaker took the stage, dragging a chalk board.
“I’m going to make a timeline of your life,” he told us. And he drew this:
“The first dot represents your birth, the second your death. The line after your death is your eternal life. It goes on and on into infinity.”
He paused before he asked his question.
“Does it make more sense to live your life for rewards to be found between the first two dots, or for rewards to be found on the line after the second?
So back to Jen’s question. Doesn’t Jesus care about me, about my life? Certainly. But he has his eyes on the whole of my life. He calls me to give up the tiny little segment at the beginning in order to find rich blessings on the never-ending line that extends into … infinity.